Drone Highways Could be the Next Big Move in Ohio’s Renowned Aviation History

April 27, 2022

Officially declared as the “birthplace of aviation” and famously home to legendary aviators and astronauts, Ohio has long been recognized for its contributions to flight.  With new and innovative developments in aviation technology, the state could soon be pioneers yet again in that exciting field.

Ohio Explores New Aviation Possibilities

This month, Ohio Statehouse Representative Adam Holmes, chair of the House’s Aerospace and Technology Committee, announced his intention to introduce three bills to create a regulatory framework that would permit widespread aerial drone highways throughout the state. The regulations will focus on allowing drones to fly above existing highways and roads and regulating trespass and other offenses by drones.

The news has already excited local drone operators. “This is brilliant,” said Tom Wasinski, President of the Cleveland based drone company Aerial Agents,

“Ohio is very wise to explore all of these new aviation possibilities… Imagine what the skies will look like in five to ten years. We need to stay on top of this well into the future so when the time comes to adapt to change, we will be more than prepared.”

Companies such as Amazon, UPS, and Domino’s Pizza have been high-profile names in the race to create drone delivery networks, but a widespread lack of regulation has limited these efforts. Like a car without a road to drive on, drones—especially carrying people and packages (or pizzas)—can pose a hazard to others and their cargo without clear direction on where they can operate. These proposals by Rep. Holmes would work to solidify Ohio’s position as a pioneering state in the field of aviation and as a desirable location for companies and startups to develop a new frontier of autonomous delivery and transportation.

Like Rep. Holmes, Wasinski’s vision for the future of drone operations in Ohio is expansive and extends beyond mere package and food delivery.

“This could mark the beginning of the end of commercial airliners… imagine what this could look like. No more baggage check or baggage claim, no more getting to the airport an hour early, no more going through TSA, no more delays…”

Wasinski continued:

“If you fly like the crow by way of an autonomous function, you will never miss your exit again. The route to your destination will always be the most efficient.”

The Next Steps

The Ohio House is already debating two other bills intended to regulate and permit commercial drones. These latest proposals could see Ohio creating a new agency similar to the FAA to regulate drones more efficiently in partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation. The new bills will be formally introduced in the coming weeks after industry groups and others weigh in.

Aptly summarizing the importance of these groundbreaking proposals, Wasinski notes,

“Ohio is the birthplace of Aviation pioneers! Ohio should be the first one. Similar to the way Ohio had the first traffic light, Ohio will be the first to have their own air traffic system overhead.”

As this new field of aerospace, commerce, and travel rapidly evolves, KJK will continue to monitor the status of these bills. If you’re interested in taking part in this innovative development or have further questions or clarifications, please contact Jon W. Groza (JWG@kjk.com; 216.736.7255) for more information.