AUVSI, the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of uncrewed systems, autonomy, and robotics, says it’s willing to take the fight to state legislative sessions to stop all proposals that infringe on the FAA’s authority of the airspace, promote the creation of drone toll lanes, and seek to impose undue taxes on drone operations.
The drone advocacy group, which focuses on educating lawmakers and promoting smart policy that supports industry growth and innovation, says it has seen a dangerous trend emerge lately. Several state legislative bodies – including those in Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Mississippi – have introduced bills that seek to restrict and tax drone operations.
Focusing primarily on “avigation easements” or the property right acquired from a land owner for the use of airspace above a specified height, these measures promote the creation of toll lanes in the sky for drones.
AUVSI points out that such laws at the state or local government level not only dismantle the federal authority of the airspace, but they also create a dangerous and virtually impossible-to-navigate patchwork of regulations for drone operators.
The group explains in a statement:
Touted by its proponents as a way to establish state ownership of airspace and create pathways for the growth and development of the UAS industry, avigation easements will do just the opposite. Not only would the development of drone toll roads take a long time and place an undue financial burden on emerging technology, but fragmented access to low-level airspace will lead to negative consequences for safety in the national airspace.
Inhibiting the use of low-level airspace, which easements would do, would only increase congestion in higher airspace, increasing the likelihood of collisions between aircraft. Additionally, the establishment of state-by-state airspace laws would only create a web of complex and confusing regulations that would make it impossible for companies to engage in a revolutionary industry.
AUVSI stresses that safe airspace for all can be ensured only through national regulation. The group also points to FAA’s BEYOND and Integration Partnership Agreement (IPA) programs that are successfully engaging with state, local, and tribal governments, as well as industry players. AVUSI says:
We will continue to support drone policy that allows for the growth of the industry and FAA control of aviation safety – and will continue to fight measures that place undue burdens on drone use.
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