Ishveena Singh DRONEDJ
Mississippi passes new law to quash undue restrictions on drones  
March 9, 2023
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  • Mississippi governor Tate Reeves has signed the Uncrewed Aircraft Systems’ Rights and Authorities Act into law, which codifies that the ultimate authority over the state airspace lies with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This law is crucial because it prevents additional burdensome regulations for drone operators. At the same time, it clarifies that violations of property-based legal regimes, such as trespass, do not occur when a drone simply flies overhead. 

    The Uncrewed Aircraft Systems’ Rights and Authorities Act (Senate Bill 1246) is designed to foster a regulatory environment that enables commercial drone operations without infringing upon existing airspace authorities. 

    It is modeled after Drone Prepared, an industry-backed legislation framework that ensures that communities can reap the benefits of embracing drones for uses such as infrastructure inspections, package delivery, wireless internet, agricultural surveying, search and rescue, firefighting, etc. 

    The Drone Prepared initiative was conceived late last year by AUVSI, the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of uncrewed systems. 

    AUVSI has been a vocal critic of state-level legislative proposals that seek to restrict and tax drone operations by way of avigation easements or the property right acquired from a landowner for the use of airspace above a specified height. 

    According to AUVSI, inhibiting the use of low-level airspace, which easements do, only increases congestion in higher airspace, increasing the likelihood of collisions between aircraft. Additionally, the establishment of state-by-state airspace laws creates a web of complex and confusing regulations that makes it impossible for companies to engage in the drone industry. 

    As such, the advocacy group has been working with lawmakers to pursue policies that address concerns about drones and promote the advanced aviation industry, while ensuring that the law does not inadvertently intrude on federally occupied fields of aviation safety and air navigation. 

    Commenting on the win in Mississippi, Michael Smitsky, vice president of government affairs at AUVSI, says: 

    With industry-backed legislation now state law, AUVSI is proud to declare Mississippi ‘Drone Prepared’. Mississippi is at the forefront of states leading the way in preparing for the benefits that the future of uncrewed and autonomous flight will bring to communities. 

    Drone Prepared has tracked 143 state measures introduced relating to drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) in 2023 state legislative sessions alone. The initiative is ramping up speed in Montana, Maryland, Virginia, Oregon, and Utah, promoting federal preemption of the airspace and encouraging the legislators to fall back on existing state code instead of imposing new, duplicative, and drone-specific restrictions.