How drone delivery companies are coming for your airspace

One of the largest government-assisted property grabs in U.S. history is quietly unfolding above America’s cities and towns. Walmart and other giant corporations eager to launch drone delivery services are using FAA authorizations to snatch up private airspace rights and paying us nothing in return.

It’s only a matter of time until these companies seek federal authority to route low-flying drones directly over your home—even if you object.

Commercial delivery drones fly within a few hundred feet of the ground through space that landowners have historically controlled. 

Most commercial drones are designed to fly within 500 feet of the ground, below the typical navigable airspace line.

Recognizing that landowners’ airspace exclusion rights could interfere with drone deliveries, powerful companies have spent the past decade lobbying aggressively for policies that would ignore those rights.

Unable to convince Congress to broadly preempt state property laws, industry groups next tried to push a drone-friendly uniform law through state legislatures.

In response to these policy setbacks, drone delivery companies have more recently adopted a less conspicuous strategy for acquiring private airspace rights that is flying under the radar of most property owners.

There is still time to embrace an alternative approach that would respect, rather than undermine, landowners’ long-held airspace rights.

State governments could play vital roles in promoting property-based approaches to drone routing.

However, state governments–with their long history of enforcing property laws–are better suited to regulate most other aspects of commercial drone operations.

Commercial drone deliveries are coming soon to communities across the United States. 

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