June 27, 2022

14 | California

Score: 50/100
  • Brent Skorup

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  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Task Force or Program Office: 0/20 
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10 
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 5/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: California law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state highways. Such a law allows state officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points, because the law is silent as to whether local officials can lease airspace above local roads and local property.
  • Avigation Easement Law: California law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws as long as their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: California law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Jobs Estimate: California is in the top quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving five out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Task Force or Program Office: State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department. 
  • Sandbox: California does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make California the 14th most drone-friendly state in the country.