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CEI Report: Keep the Skies Open for Drones

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A new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute warns that laws and regulations curtailing use of civilian drones could hold back big economic and public safety gains. In Keeping the Skies Open for Drones, CEI fellow Marc Scribner addresses the misguided, misinformed privacy and operating concerns that threaten drone innovation.

“Drone technology is poised to transform the way we live and work, offering great potential for precision agriculture, aerial surveying and photography, infrastructure inspection, disaster response, parcel delivery, and many other applications,” said Scribner. “The biggest risks with respect to drones are well-meaning but overzealous policy makers eager to legislate or regulate restrictions on future UAS applications.,” said Scribner. “Existing law and the private sector can adapt well to this new technology, without the need for stifling new regulation.”

The civilian unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) market is expected to grow substantially in coming years, with a 2013 industry forecast suggesting total nationwide economic benefits of $82.1 billion by 2025.  

Meanwhile, federal regulators have already bungled the integration of UAS into the airspace, the report explains. The Federal Aviation Administration blew past a September 30 deadline, and a recent Government Accountability Office report found that the FAA is unlikely to finalize its rule until late 2016 or 2017—only a partial step toward complying with Congress’s 2012 FRMA airspace integration mandate and over a year late.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, as of October 8, 45 states have considered 166 bills related to UAS in 2015. Of these, 20 states passed legislation and four adopted resolutions related to UAS operations, bringing the total number of states with UAS statutes on the books to 26.

The CEI report finds that UAS legislation is, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, will excessively burden UAS developers and operators in those states.

View the report