At present, the UAV market in the US is facing a commercial boom. Since the FAA eased restrictions on commercial drone use, 500 drone companies have been awarded special waivers. Although the companies originated from a total of 48 states, they were not evenly distributed and there was a large disparity in the numbers of
At present, the UAV market in the US is facing a commercial boom. Since the FAA eased restrictions on commercial drone use, 500 drone companies have been awarded special waivers. Although the companies originated from a total of 48 states, they were not evenly distributed and there was a large disparity in the numbers of commercial UAV usage waivers between the individual states.
So, which states are rolling out the welcome mat to drone businesses, making it possible for them to thrive?
The Top 5 States for UAV Businesses
- California, 70 waivers
- Texas, 46 waivers
- Florida, 40 waivers
- Illinois, 18 waivers
- Arizona, 17 waivers
Of the 70,000 UAV jobs that are expected to be created as a direct result of allowing commercial UAV usage, the majority of them will lie in the states mentioned above. There are several reasons why the UAV market in these states is so huge and it is anticipated they will help build the backbone of the industry, which is expected to add $13.6 billion to the economy.
Firstly, California is the star of the show with 70 exemptions being granted to the UAV companies operating inside this state. Of these, the largest chunk (23 exemptions) were for film and TV usage. None of the other states come remotely close to granting this number of waivers for this category. Clients can pay $10,000-15,000/day to rent UAVs for commercial filming of videos such as advertisements.
Besides film and TV usage, which is predominantly confined to California, the next most dominant category for drone use in these top states is the real estate and aerial photography sectors. DJI’s easy to use Phantom and Inspire drones are the drone of choice for this type of work, providing a great opportunity for enthusiasts to launch their UAV piloting careers.
The Bottom 5 States for UAV Businesses
- Utah, 2 waivers
- Arkansas, 1 waiver
- Vermont, 1 waiver
- New Hampshire, 0 waivers
- Delaware, 0 waivers
As can be clearly seen by the figures, these states are not positioning themselves to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by commercial UAV operations. The main impediment seems to be the extremely slow rate at which they’re updating legislation to legalize commercial drones. Most of these states have not updated their legislature for the past couple of years, which is a clear indicator of their slow progress in a highly developing field.
However, slow uptake is not the only reason for the low rate of UAV waivers. States such as Utah have taken a highly defensive stance against commercial drones and have passed bills that severely limit their usage, even going as far as banning them for police investigations.
A few incidents, such as the FAA’s decision to impose $10,000 fines on drone users who recorded aerial footage of damage caused by tornados in Arkansas, have also led to skepticism from the industry. This has led to far fewer UAV companies being willing to commence operations or seek waivers in these states.
Effect on the Commercial Drone Industry
Frankly, even with the opposition of legislators in some states, drone usage as a whole is not going to slow down any time soon. These states are directly missing out on the billions of dollars of revenue that is potentially available to them.
So, what should you do if you are stuck with your UAV business in one of these states? Move! Go to another state that is much more hospitable to UAV usage in order to make the most of this industry. It simply doesn’t make sense to sit out of the UAV market while the boom takes over.
Are you in an anti-drone state? Or a thriving one? Tell us about your experience here!
Image via Flickr: Calsidyrose