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Arkansas Ranked #1 for Commercial Drone Readiness in U.S.

 August 18, 2023

Arkansas is the national leader in commercial drone readiness.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranked Arkansas as the top state in the nation in its 2023 State Drone Commerce Scorecard study. Arkansas received 90 out of 100 possible points in the study, which focused on how prepared each state is for commercial drone services.

Arkansas has steadily improved its business climate for drone readiness, and the state’s drone readiness score has increased since 2021. Arkansas had the third-highest drone readiness score in 2021, behind Oklahoma and North Dakota, and the second-highest score in 2022, tying with North Dakota and behind Oklahoma.

The factors considered in the Mercatus Center’s 2023 drone readiness rankings include:

  • Airspace lease law
  • Avigaton easement law
  • Task force or program office
  • Law vesting landowners with air rights
  • Sandbox
  • Jobs estimate

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 into a national leader for commercial drone readiness. The Mercatus Center noted that Arkansas 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 a significant 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. 

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