Arkansas Ranks #1 for Commercial Drone Readiness in the US
Arkansas is the leader in commercial drone readiness in the United States, according to a new study.
In its 2023 State Drone Commerce Scorecard study, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked Arkansas as the top state in the nation. Arkansas received 90 out of 100 possible points in the study, which focused on how prepared each state is for commercial drone services.
By steadily improving its business climate for drone readiness, the state’s drone readiness score has increased since 2021. Arkansas had the third-highest drone readiness score in 2021, just behind Oklahoma and North Dakota; it had the second-highest score in 2022, still behind Oklahoma but tying with North Dakota.
The factors considered in the Mercatus Center’s 2023 drone readiness rankings include:
- Airspace lease law
- Avigation easement law
- Taskforce or program office
- Law vesting landowners with air rights
- Jobs estimate
This year, Arkansas received the maximum number of points for five of the ranking factors: airspace lease law, avigation easement law, task force or program office, law vesting landowners with air rights and jobs estimate.
Several state laws have helped make Arkansas a national leader in commercial drone readiness. The Mercatus Center noted the Natural State’s public authorities are empowered to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roadways, which enables the creation of “drone highways.” State law also provides for avigation easement, which provides drone operators protection from nuisance and trespass laws, providing that the drones do not disturb people on the ground. Arkansas landowners also are vested with air rights, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators, according to the Mercatus Center.
Drone-related jobs also played an important role in the state’s drone readiness ranking. Arkansas’ drone-related jobs numbers are among the highest in the United States. Arkansas is in the top quintile for drone-related jobs per 100,000 people.