Illinois | 2023 State Drone Commerce Scorecard

Illinois ranks 41st in its readiness for commercial drone services

Rank: 41

Illinois placed 41st in the 2023 State Drone Commerce Scorecard rankings. The state scored 23 out of 100 possible points in how prepared it is for commercial drone services.

The Six Factors Contributing to the Overall Score

A Score in Gray Indicates a Score Below the Median of All States

10 / 30

Airspace Lease Law
lllinois law allows Chicago authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above city streets, which allows local officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, outside of Chicago the law is unclear. Municipalities are prohibited from airspace sale and lease for “purely private uses.” It is uncertain whether drone operations would qualify as a private or public benefit, and there are other minor state limits on airspace leasing.

0 / 25

Avigation Easement Law
Illinois 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.

10 / 20

Task Force or Program Office
The state had a temporary drone task force in 2016.

0 / 10

Illinois does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing.

0 / 10

Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights
Illinois law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators.

3 / 5

Jobs Estimate
Illinois is in the middle quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people.

How Illinois Scored Relative to Its Peers

Commercial drone-readiness scores vary across the nation. To give state leaders and residents insight into how their state compares, we have provided the scores of four state peers. In this case, these peers are selected because of their geographic and political similarities.

Chart showing how Illinois scored relative to its peers

Illinois scored 23 of out 100 possible points. The top ranked state in 2023 was Arkansas, which scored 90 points.

Chart showing how Illinois scored relative to its peers

Get in Touch With the Author

Brent Skorup regularly briefs policymakers on his research and has appeared as a guest for news outlets like C-SPAN, NPR, CBS News, ABC News, and CNBC Asia.

Dive Deeper

Access the full 2023 report to learn more about the methodology, download the data, and see how the scorecard has changed since last year.