Proposed Avigation Easement Laws Could Create Toll Roads in the Sky for Drone Operations

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Several states are currently considering laws that could make commercial drone operations much more complicated—and expensive.

These proposed laws are generally grouped under the term “avigation easement” laws.

The word avigation is a combination of navigation and aviation, and the word easement refers to the need for crossing or using someone’s land for a specific purpose (like a photo shoot or a delivery).


The proposed legislation varies from state to state. But the idea that connects them is to extend property rights for landowners into the airspace above their land, so that people who own land would also own the airspace over it.

With this new airspace ownership, property owners could then charge drone pilots to fly over their land.

So if you wanted to do an aerial photo shoot and had to enter the airspace above someone’s property, you’d have to pay the airspace owner. And if a drone delivery company wanted to fly through that person’s airspace to deliver a package, they would also have to pay.

Further, large landowners, including state governments, could potentially institute aerial “tollroads,” charging a fee for each drone that enters the airspace in order to conduct business.

Read today's post to learn more about avigation easements, the proposed laws around them, and a recent statement from AUVSI that strongly denounces them.

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You are correct, airspace can only be regulated by the FAA.  In addition, it’s not the right of the FAA to “give up” or transfer those rights without going through the public Notice for Proposed Rule Making.  

The airspace is public, as tax payers we own it.  The FAA is responsible for the safe operation of the airspace. They can restrict access based on your qualifications but if you meet the requirements they can’t stop you from flying. 

I don’t think the concept of Avigation is a real thing. I am a pilot and have lived next to an airport and as a homeowner I had no rights that could restrict the operations of the airport in any way. 

When AirWare started its purpose was to provide a platform where businesses and home owners could log in, pay a fee to restrict overflight of their establishment and pilots would have to login and pay for permission.  This is called user fees, and since tax payers pay for the NAS that’s not allowed. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that the current administration isn’t going to try.  

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