North Carolina Takes Flight: State Repeals Drone Operator Permit Requirement

has made a significant move to boost its by passing House Bill 198, which eliminates the state's uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) operator knowledge test and permit requirement. This legislative change, set to take effect on December 1, 2024, marks a new era for drone operations in the Tar Heel State.

Clearing the Airspace for Innovation

The decision to repeal the state-specific drone operator requirements comes after years of advocacy by industry groups like AeroX. Basil Yap, President of AeroX, highlighted the redundancy of the state permit, stating, “Drone operators often saw the state permit as redundant after the FAA began issuing Remote Pilot Certificates in 2016.”

Introduced in 2014, the UAS knowledge test and operator permit required commercial and government drone operators to pass the NCDOT UAS Operator Knowledge Test and obtain a permit renewed every two years. This requirement predated the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) introduction of drone pilot licenses.

Legislative Journey and Industry Support

House Bill 198 faced initial opposition from Governor Roy Cooper, who vetoed the bill for reasons unrelated to UAS regulations. However, on June 27, 2024, both the House and Senate overrode the veto, enacting the bill into law.

AeroX has been instrumental in this legislative change, engaging with the state legislature since 2021. Their efforts included hosting a UAS Legislative Day in 2023 and the UAS Caucus in 2024, demonstrating the industry's commitment to fostering a supportive environment for drone operations in North Carolina.

Impact on the Drone Industry

The repeal of the state knowledge test and permit requirements is expected to reduce regulatory burdens on drone operators in North Carolina. This move aligns with the state's goal of promoting UAS innovation and supporting the growth of drone technologies.

AeroX continues to champion North Carolina as a leader in UAS innovation, working to create an environment conducive to the advancement of drone technologies and operations.

DroneXL's Take

The repeal of North Carolina's drone operator permit requirement represents a positive step towards harmonizing state and federal drone regulations. This move not only reduces bureaucratic hurdles for drone operators but also positions North Carolina as a drone-friendly state, potentially attracting more UAS businesses and innovations.

As we've seen with recent developments in drone delivery services, streamlined regulations can significantly boost the growth of the drone industry. North Carolina's decision could serve as a model for other states looking to balance safety concerns with industry growth.

Moreover, this regulatory change aligns with the broader trend of improving and security. As drone technology continues to advance, it's crucial for regulations to evolve in tandem, ensuring safety while fostering innovation. The state's proactive approach in supporting the drone industry, as evidenced by AeroX's initiatives to support drone-in-a-box solutions, further underscores North Carolina's commitment to becoming a hub for drone technology and operations.

This legislative change, coupled with ongoing industry support, positions North Carolina at the forefront of the drone revolution, potentially paving the way for increased investment, innovation, and job creation in the UAS sector.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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