US drone associations criticise legislation introduced by several states restricting drone operations

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) have expressed concern regarding legislation introduced in several states, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and West Virginia, that are considering ‘avigation easements’ – new restrictions on drone operations that would divide airspace, impose leasing and, in some cases, fee collection.

“CTA is concerned about the increasing number of state-level bills that would restrict drone operations and essentially create toll roads in the skies,” said Douglas Johnson, vice president of technology policy, CTA. “If enacted, this type of legislation will curtail industry growth and harm local drone businesses and all those who benefit from this versatile technology – from farmers to rural residents or homebound patients.”

“We need a continuation of national rules and approaches from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – not a patchwork of conflicting and unsafe state laws that divide the airspace and increase costs for consumers and drone operators,” said Michael Robbins, executive vice president of government and public affairs, AUVSI. “We need to ensure that drones can continue to advance and bring new opportunities, jobs and services to cities and states across the U.S.”

Drones provide solutions from delivering essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic to helping first responders during emergencies. In the US, 17% of households owned a drone in 2020, with 13.2 million households planning to buy a drone in 2021, according to CTA research.

As more people and businesses use drones, CTA and AUVSI urge state legislators to work with industry to pursue balanced and appropriate policies that do not stifle innovation.

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