January 14, 2021

5 | Virginia

Score: 60/100
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  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Drone Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 10/15

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Virginia law allows state and local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. Such a law allows state or local authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways.
  • Drone Task Force or Program Office: Virginia gets full points. The Department of Aviation created and oversees a program office—the Unmanned Systems Center—devoted to drone technologies. Further, a state law passed in March 2020 created a drone policy advisory group to the Department of Aviation.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Virginia has 20.2 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 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.
  • Avigation Easement Law: 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.

These factors make Virginia the 5th most drone-friendly state in the country.