The nation’s leading consumer electronics and top unmanned aviation orgs are not huge fans of avigation easements. Note: That’s not a typo, but we’ll explain.
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) today issued a statement of “concern” about avigation legislation in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and West Virginia that would stymie drone operations by dividing airspace, imposing leasing regulations and 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 and homebound patients.”
“We need a continuation of national rules and approaches from the 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.”
Wait, what is avigation?
According to USLegal.com, an avigation easement is an “easement or right of overflight in the airspace above or in the vicinity of a particular property. It also includes the right to create such noise or other effects as may result from the lawful operation of aircraft in such airspace and the right to remove any obstructions to such overflight.” In short, avigation is a cross between aviation and navigation.
CTA and AUVSI believe avigation (or “toll roads in the sky”) will hamper drone innovation. According to CTA research, “drones [for example] provide vital solutions, from delivering essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic to helping first responders during emergencies. In the U.S., 17 percent of households owned a drone in 2020, with 13.2 million households planning to buy a drone in 2021.
So, what these groups are saying is simple—if states try to levy unnecessary tolls, lives could be lost if drones have to navigate a flood of regulations or tolls.
“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,” the joint statement noted.