While the FAA struggles to get federal drone regulation in place before state and local governments create a “patchwork quilt” of drone rules, Arizona has taken steps to ensure that regulations are consistent across the state.
Arizona Senator John Kavanaugh has introduced Senate Bill 1449, which would regulate drone use across the state, and prevent drone regulations from being enacted by local governments.
The bill proposes moderate drone regulation which would prevent hobby drones from flying over personal property, critical facilities, or interfering with emergency personnel. In addition, however, the bill prevents any more restrictive drone regulation from being passed in the state:
Except as authorized by law, a political subdivision of this state may not enact or adopt any ordinance, policy or rule that relates to the ownership or operation of an unmanned aircraft…or otherwise engage in the regulation of an unmanned aircraft… if the ordinance, policy or rule is more prohibitive than or has a penalty that is greater than any state law penalty…
The bill also recognizes federal authority, calling for the Arizona Dept. of Transportation to review the FAA’s drone regulations annually in order to evaluate the necessity of state regulation.
…The division shall consult with representatives of model aircraft, civil unmanned aircraft and public unmanned aircraft, law enforcement and political subdivisions in this state on whether amendments to section 13-3729, Arizona Revised Statutes, as added by this act, are necessary due to changes in federal regulations made by the federal aviation administration.
In comments to the press after a committee hearing, Senator Kavanaugh said that the bill represents an attempt to support the drone industry. “We’re trying to make sure that we can have commerce with drones, that we don’t have 91 different laws that make it impossible for companies to use drones for deliveries,” Kavanagh said. “That was a major concern as individual cities began either passing or talking about passing drone legislation.”
The proposed bill seems to offer a reasonable alternative for the drone industry in an increasingly confusing regulatory environment. While the FAA has issued a Fact Sheet to states warning that they are the ultimate authority in the air, they have not yet provided clear regulatory guidance at the federal level. As many states feel the need to get some drone rules in place, the FAA’s fears of a patchwork arrangement of regulations is rapidly materializing. The Arizona solution may give drone business in that state at least some level of clarity.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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