June 27, 2022

2 (Tied) | North Dakota

Score: 70/100
  • Brent Skorup

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

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: North Dakota 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.
  • Task Force or Program Office: North Dakota gets full points. The state has established a drone program office—the Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority—overseen by state agencies and chaired by the lieutenant governor. The program office develops policies that advance UAS operations, including beyond visual line of sight, flights over people, and night operations.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: North Dakota law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Sandbox: North Dakota’s Vantis program offers airspace access to drone companies, is affiliated with the state transportation department, and has a prominent, open invitation to drone companies to test their hardware and services.
  • Jobs Estimate: North Dakota 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

  • Airspace Lease Law: North Dakota law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.

These factors make North Dakota tied (with Arkansas) for the 2nd most drone-friendly state in the country.