March 19, 2020

Which States Are Prepared for the Drone Industry?

A Fifty-State Report Card
Contact us
To speak with a scholar or learn more on this topic, visit our contact page.

Commercial drone companies have long operated in countries such as China, Japan, Rwanda, and Switzerland—for the delivery of medical and other supplies as well as for agricultural uses. In the United States, however, widespread deployment of commercial drones has been slow. This is owing, in part, to a lack of clarity about federal and state roles regarding drones and airspace management. 

In “Which States Are Prepared for the Drone Industry? A 50-State Report Card,” Brent Skorup and Connor Haa­land argue that states should take the lead. By creating drone highways that mirror the paths of the public roads beneath them, states can bring new services to residents, create jobs, and save lives. In addition, the report card makes the following points:

  • Many states already possess the legal rights to demarcate drone highways and establish rules for their use. 
  • State and local authorities should manage the new drone highways. 
  • Authorities can monetize this currently unused public resource—the public right-of-way between 50 feet and 200 feet above the ground. 

The report card ranks states on their readiness to get the new technology into America’s skies. 

Drone highways

States With These Laws Receive Higher Scores 

  • Airspace lease law. Drone highways must be demarcated by regulators and safely separated from airports, homes, schools, and other sensitive locations. 
  • Law vesting air rights with landowners. These laws clarify that the state is exercising its police powers and defining property rights. They also inform drone operators and residents about the extent of homeown­ers’ property rights, which reduces litigation risk for operators and homeowners alike. 
  • Avigation easement law. These laws allow drone operators to fly so long as they are high enough not to bother landowners and passersby. Even if the state or municipality doesn’t own the aerial corridors above public roads, drones will generally be allowed to access the aerial easements that state officials demarcate above public roads. 

Other Factors Considered in the Report Card

  • Aviation advisory committee. For state and local authorities, widespread commercial drone services will raise issues such as zoning rules, noise limits, time-of-day restrictions, job training and education, and insurance. Most of these issues will require extensive exploration—by regulators, residents, researchers, and operators. States that have a statewide committee, task force, or department of transportation team dedicated to drones merit a higher score in the report. 
  • Drone jobs estimate. The report card ranks states based on the number of drone jobs per 100,000 people. Drone jobs serve as a proxy for soft factors such as whether a state has a community college system with drone programs or has workers in the aerospace industry. These factors can position states for future jobs growth in the industry, much as the auto industry has centered around Detroit and the IT industry around Silicon Valley.

Key Takeaway

The report card helps states gauge how prepared they are for the future of drone services. It also demonstrates which states have model laws and policies that legislators in other states can learn from. 

Alabama 

Rank: 46

Score: 6/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 6/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Alabama has 12 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Alabama law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Alabama law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Alabama law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Alabama the 46th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Alaska 

Rank: 26 (tied)

Score: 35/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20  
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 15/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Alaska has a joint committee on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), consisting of members from the UAS industry, various state agencies, and universities. Furthermore, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is home to the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI), whose mission is to be a world-class research center for UAS, with a special emphasis on the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Alaska scores well on drone jobs, leading the country with 44 per 100,000 people.  

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Alaska law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Alaska law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Alaska law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 

 These factors make Alaska tied for the 26th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Arizona 

Rank: 15 (tied) 

Score: 48/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Arizona law allows local officials to lease airspace, and therefore create drone highways, above local roads. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and state property.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersArizona law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement LawArizona law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Arizona has 5.8 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

 These factors make Arizona tied for the 15th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Arkansas  

Rank: 2 

Score: 69/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Arkansas law allows state and local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state roads and local roads. Such a law allows state and local authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersArkansas law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Arkansas law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Arkansas has 8.5 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

 These factors make Arkansas the 2nd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

California 

Rank: 7 (tied)

Score: 58/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 10/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: California law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state highways. 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.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersCalifornia law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: California law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: California has a state Senate Committee on Technology and the New Economy. While it has sponsored no legislation to date, it would serve as a natural place for the state to examine and promulgate statewide drone policies. 

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Drone Jobs Estimate: California has 6.6 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make California tied for the 7th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Colorado  

Rank: 7 (tied)

Score: 58/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersColorado law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Colorado law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: The Colorado legislature passed a law in 2017 creating a center within the Division of Fire Prevention and Control that studies the integration of UAS as they relate to public safety functions.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Colorado law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Colorado has 6.6 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Colorado tied for the 7th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Connecticut 

Rank: 23 (tied)  

Score: 38/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 8/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Connecticut 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 local roadways.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Connecticut has 16.8 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 LandownersConnecticut law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Connecticut law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Connecticut tied for the 23rd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Delaware  

Rank: 17

Score: 44/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10  
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 9/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersDelaware law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Delaware law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Delaware has 18 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Delaware law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Delaware the 17th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Florida  

Rank: 41

Score: 13/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Florida law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state highways. Such a law allows state or local authorities 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.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersFlorida law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Florida law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Florida has 5.6 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Florida the 41st most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Georgia 

Rank: 13 (tied) 

Score: 49/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Esitmate: 4/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Georgia law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above limited-access highways. Such a law allows state authorities to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether officials can lease airspace above local roadways and state highways that are not limited access.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersGeorgia law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Georgia law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Georgia has 7.4 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Georgia tied for the 13th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Hawaii 

Rank: 26 (tied) 

Score: 35/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10  
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 0/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersHawaii law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Hawaii law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Hawaii law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Hawaii has 0 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Hawaii tied for the 26th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Idaho 

Rank: 18 (tied) 

Score: 40/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersIdaho law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Idaho law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Idaho has 9.3 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Idaho law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Idaho tied for the 18th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Illinois  

Rank: 33 (tied)   

Score: 23/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 10/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Illinois law allows Chicago authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above city streets, enabling them to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and whether local officials outside Chicago can lease airspace above local roads.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: The state created a drone task force under a bill passed in 2016 called the Illinois Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force Act. This was a task force that met monthly from January of 2016 until June of 2016 on issues related to UAS. Upon conclusion, the task force submitted its proposals to the governor.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersIllinois law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Illinois law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Illinois has 6.0 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Illinois tied for the 33rd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Indiana 

Rank: 25  

Score: 37/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25  
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 2/15  

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersIdaho law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Indiana law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Indiana law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Indiana has 4.7 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Indiana the 25th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Iowa  

Rank: 47 (tied) 

Score: 4/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15 

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Iowa law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersIowa law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Iowa law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Iowa has 8.5 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Iowa tied for the 47th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Kansas 

Rank: 32

Score: 26/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25  
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 6/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: The state created a task force in their Department of Transportation consisting of members from the university system, various state governmental agencies, and the Kansas Farm Bureau. The Kansas UAS program has a specific focus on long-line linear infrastructure such as highways, railroads, and energy distribution lines.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Kansas has 11.5 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Kansas law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersKansas law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Kansas law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 

These factors make Kansas the 32nd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Kentucky 

Rank: 49 

Score: 3/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10  
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15 

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Kentucky law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersKentucky law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Kentucky law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Kentucky has 5.5 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Kentucky the 49th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Louisiana  

Rank: 37 (tied)

Score: 15/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Louisiana law allows local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state highways. Such a law allows local authorities to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and state property.

Factors Hindering the State Score: 

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with LandownersLouisiana law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Louisiana law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Louisiana has 9.2 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

 These factors make Louisiana tied for the 37th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Maine 

Rank: 35 

Score: 17/100 

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 7/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Maine law allows local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state highways. Such a law allows local authorities to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and state property.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Maine has 13.2 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 LandownersMaine law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Maine law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

 These factors make Maine the 35th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Maryland

Rank: 22 

Score: 39/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 10/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Avigation Easement Law: Maryland law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: The legislature instructed the Department of Commerce to draft a state drone report, which was released in 2015. State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Maryland law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Maryland law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Maryland has 8.2 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Maryland the 22nd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Massachusetts

Rank: 18 (tied) 

Score: 40/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Massachusetts law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace over Boston’s metropolitan highways and above state highways. Such a law allows state authorities 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 outside of Boston can lease airspace above local roads.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Massachusetts law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Massachusetts has 9.7 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: Massachusetts law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Massachusetts tied for the 18th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Michigan

Rank: 33 (tied)

Score: 23/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: The Michigan Department of Transportation created a robust task force, called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Task Force. This 27-member coalition develops statewide policy recommendations on the operation, use, and regulation of UAS in Michigan.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Michigan law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Michigan law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Michigan law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Michigan has 5.8 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Michigan tied for the 33rd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Minnesota

Rank: 12 

Score: 50/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Minnesota law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace over “trunk highways.” Such a law allows state authorities 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 whether airspace above non-trunk highways can be leased.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Minnesota law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Minnesota law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Minnesota has 10.0 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Minnesota the 12th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Mississippi

Rank: 47 (tied)

Score: 4/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Mississippi law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Mississippi law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Mississippi law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Mississippi has 7.2 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Mississippi tied for the 47th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Missouri

Rank: 23 (tied) 

Score: 38/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Missouri law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Missouri law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Missouri law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Missouri has 6.7 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Missouri tied for the 23rd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Montana

Rank: 11 

Score: 52/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 10/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 7/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Montana law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Montana law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Montana created an unmanned aerial vehicle forum, which is a listserv for distributing drone-related information to residents of Montana.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Montana has 13.5 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Montana law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.

These factors make Montana the 11th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Nebraska

Rank: 44 (tied) 

Score: 9/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 9/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Nebraska has 18.1 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Nebraska law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Nebraska law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Nebraska law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Nebraska tied for the 44th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Nevada

Rank: 5  

Score: 63/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 8/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Nevada law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Nevada law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the state created the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, which leads the drone industry through business relations and collaboration with research institutions and develops state drone policy. 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Nevada has 15.6 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Nevada law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.

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

Back to top.

New Hampshire

Rank: 26 (tied)

Score: 35/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: New Hampshire law allows state and local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. Such a law allows state and local authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: New Hampshire has 10.8 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: New Hampshire law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: New Hampshire law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make New Hampshire tied for the 26th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

New Jersey

Rank: 9 

Score: 55/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 0/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: New Jersey law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: New Jersey law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: New Jersey created a drone program within the Bureau of Aeronautics in the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The state has hired professionals to lead the program and intends to use UAS technology for initiatives related to traffic management, structural inspections, and aerial corridor 3D mapping.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: New Jersey law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: New Jersey has 0.1 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make New Jersey the 9th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

New Mexico

Rank: 42

Score: 11/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 11/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Drone Jobs Estimate: New Mexico has 21.4 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: New Mexico law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: New Mexico law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: New Mexico law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make New Mexico the 42nd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

New York

Rank: 36

Score: 16/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 6/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: New York law allows local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above local roads. Such a law allows state and local authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and property.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: New York has 12.9 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: New York law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: New York law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make New York the 36th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

North Carolina

Rank: 6 

Score: 59/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: North Carolina law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: North Carolina law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: North Carolina created a UAS program office in its division of aviation with the goal of “promoting the economic wellbeing of North Carolina through air transportation system development and improved aviation safety and education.”

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: North Carolina law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: North Carolina has 9.0 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make North Carolina the 6th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

North Dakota

Rank: 1

Score: 70/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 15/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: North Dakota law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: North Dakota law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: North Dakota is a part of the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, an initiative aimed at shaping the future of drones in America. As a result, the North Dakota Department of Transportation and other agencies work on policies that advance UAS operations, including beyond visual line of sight, flights over people, and night operations. 
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: North Dakota has 40.0 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it second among all states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: North Dakota law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.

These factors make North Dakota the most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Ohio

Rank: 30 (tied)

Score: 32/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 2/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Ohio law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state roads. Such a law allows state authorities to create drone highways above state roadways. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether state or local officials can lease airspace above local roads.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Ohio has a UAS Center, which serves as a one-stop shop for unmanned aircraft and advanced aviation technologies. This center was created by the Ohio Department of Transportation in recognition that UAS technologies are “advancing rapidly and disrupting their respective industries by developing remote and automated operation for transportation applications.”

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Ohio law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Ohio law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Ohio has 4.2 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Ohio tied for the 30th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Oklahoma

Rank: 4

Score: 64/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Oklahoma law allows airspace leasing above local roads, state roads, and state property. This law allows state authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Oklahoma law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Oklahoma commissioned a report to the governor in 2015 on UASs, a positive signal. This report devised a strategic plan for the development of UAS in the state, but the state has not created any agencies specifically focused on UAS. The state also created the Aerospace Commerce Economic Services committee, which has a subsection dedicated to UAS technology. Furthermore, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma are leaders in the UAS field—the first universities to offer graduate degrees related to UAS and unmanned aerial vehicle technology.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Avigation Easement Law: Oklahoma law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Oklahoma has 7.3 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Oklahoma the 4th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Oregon

Rank: 30 (tied)

Score: 32/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 2/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Oregon law allows airspace leasing above local roads, state roads, and state property. This law allows state authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Oregon law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Oregon law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Oregon has 4.9 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Oregon tied for the 30th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Pennsylvania

Rank: 37 (tied) 

Score: 15/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 10/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Pennsylvania created a joint state government commission to report on UAS in the state in 2017. This commission consisted of 14 members of the Pennsylvania state legislature.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Pennsylvania has 10.3 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: Pennsylvania law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Airspace Lease Law: Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Pennsylvania law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

These factors make Pennsylvania tied for the 37th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Rhode Island

Rank: 44 (tied) 

Score: 9/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 9/15

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Rhode Island has 18.1 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Rhode Island law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Rhode Island law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Rhode Island law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Rhode Island tied for the 44th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

South Carolina

Rank: 50 

Score: 2/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 2/15

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: South Carolina law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways.
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: South Carolina law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: South Carolina law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: South Carolina has 4.9 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make South Carolina the least drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

South Dakota

Rank: 43 

Score: 10/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 10/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Drone Jobs Estimate: South Dakota has 20.0 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: South Dakota law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: South Dakota law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: South Dakota law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make South Dakota the 43rd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Tennessee

Rank: 18 (tied) 

Score: 40/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Tennessee law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Tennessee law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Tennessee has 10.3 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Tennessee law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Tennessee tied for the 18th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Texas

Rank: 10 

Score: 54/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Texas law allows airspace leasing above local roads, state roads, and state property. This law allows state authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways and reduces the risk of litigation.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: In 2019, Governor Abbott created a Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Task Force within the Department of Transportation. The task force has representatives from the drone industry, and part of the task force’s mission is to stimulate drone jobs and services in Texas.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Texas law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Texas law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Texas has 7.2 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Texas the 10th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Utah

Rank: 40

Score: 14/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 10/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Utah commissioned a report on the evaluation and development of unmanned aerial vehicles in 2012 and the Department of Transportation created a policy document in 2017, but current drone policy in Utah seems limited to Utah Department of Transportation uses. While the report and policy document are good steps, the state did not receive full points because the drone advisory committee was limited in scope.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Utah law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Utah law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Utah law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Utah has 7.3 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Utah the 40th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Vermont 

Rank: 3

Score: 67/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 12/15 

Factors Helping the State Score:

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Vermont law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Vermont law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: Vermont created a UAS program within its Agency of Transportation. The program’s main usage in this capacity is aiding that agency in emergency operations, infrastructure inspection, and construction site monitoring.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Vermont has 24.6 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Vermont law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 

These factors make Vermont the 3rd most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Virginia

Rank: 18 (tied) 

Score: 40/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • 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 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 doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Virginia law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Virginia tied for the 18th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Washington

Rank: 26 (tied) 

Score: 35/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Washington law allows state and local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. Such a law allows authorities to create drone highways above state and local roadways.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Washington has 10.5 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: Washington law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Washington law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Washington tied for the 26th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

West Virginia

Rank: 37 (tied)

Score: 15/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 5/15

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 authorities to create drone highways above state 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.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: West Virginia has 10.1 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: West Virginia law doesn’t expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners don’t know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Avigation Easement Law: West Virginia law doesn’t create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make West Virginia tied for the 37th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Wisconsin

Rank: 13 (tied) 

Score: 49/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 4/15 

Factors Helping the State Score: 

  • Airspace Lease Law: Wisconsin law allows local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above local roads. Such a law allows authorities to create drone highways above local roadways. However, the state did not receive full points because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and state property. 
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Wisconsin law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Wisconsin law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Wisconsin has 8.3 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Wisconsin tied for the 13th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.

Wyoming

Rank: 15 (tied)

Score: 48/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 10/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: 0/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 13/15

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: Wyoming law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Wyoming law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws so long as their drones don’t disturb people on the ground.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Wyoming has 25.3 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the top half of states.

Factors Hindering the State Score:

  • Airspace Lease Law: Wyoming law doesn’t allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above public roads and public property. Such a law would allow state or local authorities to create drone highways above roadways. 
  • Aviation Advisory Committee: State leaders should consider convening a statewide task force, committee, or research group to study drone issues and advise lawmakers.

These factors make Wyoming tied for the 15th most drone-friendly state in the country.

Back to top.