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  • The State Of Drones: State Authority to Regulate Drones

    The federal government controls the flying skies. Little room in the realm of airspace regulation is available for states to address questions relating to airplane safety, operations, and services. The question of how that state of affairs arose involves a historical narrative of technological development, national assertions of supremacy, political and professional maneuverings, and the strongly asserted analogy of airspace to navigable waterways. In this essay we will outline the various actions that states are likely permitted to take. We will also discuss the legal environment within which these decisions must be made, and especially the legal uncertainties that exist. We will also discuss the reasons why taking certain actions may or may not benefit states and their citizens, taking into account a variety of perspectives relating to economic opportunities, market conditions, safety, privacy, public concerns, and technological opportunities.

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