June 27, 2022

29 | Tennessee

Score: 36/100
  • Brent Skorup

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  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • 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: 1/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Tennessee 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: Tennessee law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Tennessee 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.
  • 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: Tennessee does not have a drone sandbox. There are a major drone test site and airspace access at the Memphis–Shelby County Airport and Memphis International Airport, but there does not appear to be an invitation to commercial operators. 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.
  • Jobs Estimate: Tennessee is in the bottom quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving one out of five points.

These factors make Tennessee the 29th most drone-friendly state in the country.