June 27, 2022

9 (Tied) | Montana

Score: 57/100
  • 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: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 2/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Montana 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: Montana gets full points. The state has a drone task force—the Montana Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Council—overseen by the Montana Department of Transportation. The task force was created by Governor Steve Bullock’s executive order in 2019 and develops statewide policy recommendations regarding residents’ property rights and privacy expectations.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Montana 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: Montana 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.
  • Sandbox: Montana 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: Montana 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 Montana tied (with Nevada) for the 9th most drone-friendly state in the country.