Article | May 10, 2021

Drone Innovation Depends on Forward-Looking Policies

Laura Ambrosio

As drone technology evolves and more people own these multipurpose flyers, we need government policies to keep up.

Regulation of drones should encourage safe and responsible operations, while promoting innovation, so that people and businesses across the U.S. can continue to benefit from the new opportunities, jobs and services that drone technology brings.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® is focused on three areas to advance drone policy:

1. National Rules

There has been steady progress of national rules for drone operations from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but more is needed to expand drone use. In December, CTA applauded the FAA announcement of its long-awaited final rules on remote identification of drones and for operating over people and at night. These rules allow authorities to identify drones flying in their jurisdictions, while also expanding the locations and times drones can fly.

CTA is also pushing for a future rule from the FAA for flights “beyond visual line of sight,” so that drones can fly greater distances without having to stay within eyesight of the operator. National rules like these will allow drones to continue to play an important role in improving our lives for the better from helping first responders during emergencies to farmers with crop production.

2. State Laws

CTA is concerned about the increasing number of state-level bills that would restrict drone operations and create a patchwork of conflicting and unsafe state laws.

For example, CTA is tracking legislation introduced in several states that are considering avigation easements — new drone restrictions that would divide airspace; impose leasing; and, in some cases, result in fee collection. This type of legislation would not only increase costs for consumers and drone operators, but it would also harm local drone businesses and all those who benefit from this versatile technology.

By tracking new legislation, CTA aims to educate policymakers about the negative impact that this type of state-level legislation would have on drone innovation and urge government officials to work with industry partners to advance a national approach to drone rules.

3. Drone Safety

Ensuring safe use of drones is essential as drones become more integrated into our everyday lives. To educate the public about how to safely fly a drone and what they need to know before taking to the skies, CTA helps organize the Know Before You Fly campaign along with the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the FAA. The campaign shares resources such as interactive maps showing where people can fly drones, information about how to register a drone and best practices for individuals or businesses.

“CTA members are working to create the future of drone innovation,” said Douglas Johnson, vice president of technology policy, who leads drone policy initiatives at CTA. “The possibilities for drones are endless, but we need the policies to match.” 

Get Involved in Shaping Drone Policy

The Drone and Air Mobility Working Group supports the market for drones, unmanned aircraft systems and advanced air mobility through initiatives related to public policy, industry standards, market research and consumer education. CTA engages with policymakers at the national, state, local and international levels.