June 27, 2022

22 (Tied) | Massachusetts

Score: 39/100
  • 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: 0/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 4/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Massachusetts law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above Boston’s metropolitan highways and 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 outside of Boston can lease airspace above local roads and local property.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Massachusetts 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.
  • Jobs Estimate: Massachusetts is in the second quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving four out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Task Force or Program Office: The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has a drone program, but it serves only intragovernmental customers. State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Massachusetts law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners do not know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Sandbox: Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts tied (with Missouri) for the 22nd most drone-friendly state in the country.