June 27, 2022

30 (Tied) | West Virginia

Score: 35/100
  • Brent Skorup

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

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: West Virginia law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state roads. 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.
  • Task Force or Program Office: West Virginia gets full points. In 2022, the state legislature created a drone and advanced aviation mobility task force, overseen by the Department of Economic Development.
  • Jobs Estimate: West Virginia 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

  • Avigation Easement Law: West Virginia law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: West Virginia 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: West Virginia 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 West Virginia tied (with Oregon) for the 30th most drone-friendly state in the country.