June 27, 2022

34 (Tied) | Utah

Score: 32/100
  • Brent Skorup

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  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 2/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Task Force or Program Office: Utah gets full points. The state has a drone program office within the state department of transportation’s Division of Aeronautics. The program office aims to educate the public about drone technology and encourage commercial drone services.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Utah 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: Utah law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. It does allow UDOT, municipalities, counties, and airport authorities to lease, for airport purposes, “any available property that is owned or controlled by the department or by a municipality, county, or airport authority.” However, it is unclear whether the law applies to drones. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Utah 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.
  • Sandbox: Utah 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.
  • Jobs Estimate: Utah is in the fourth quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving two out of five points.

These factors make Utah tied (with Pennsylvania) for the 34th most drone-friendly state in the country.