Aerospace and unmanned sectors are rapidly growing industries and economic drivers for the state of Arizona. Our state is ranked second in the nation for aerospace and defense systems manufacturing jobs, employing more than 11,700 people. In 2016, our state was ranked first in the nation by Price Waterhouse Cooper for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness.

In recent years, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or as they’re more commonly referred to, drones are being used in industries beyond the defense sector. One example is the real estate industry.

Drones provide added value in marketing residential and commercial properties including aerial views and videos showing large properties and confirming the condition of a structure. Processes for surveying and assessing properties are safer and quicker when drones are used to gather information. According to Phoenix Drone Pros, drone photography has also been shown to reduce the days on the market and increase the sale price.

This increased usage of drones in commercial industries is largely due to the most recent FAA regulations. Starting in the spring of 2016, a much-awaited ruling by the FAA provided regulations to small unmanned vehicles. This ruling is commonly known as the Part 107 waiver (14 C.F.R Part 107) and gives certified drone pilots access to fly over people and inhabited areas without needing to first obtain a Section 333 exemption; meaning, drone pilots are no longer required to have pilot’s licenses. These waivers have opened the doors for many types of commercial drone pilots. In Arizona, small businesses make up 90 percent of the companies that have obtained these waivers. According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), most waivers issued by the FAA are issued to the real estate industry.

In addition to the FAA regulating drone pilots, states and cities are also able to legislate the use of UAVs. In many states, this has created a patchwork of laws and a fair amount of confusion for the person operating a business; however, this is not the case for Arizona. In an effort help grow businesses, Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation in May of 2016, barring cities and towns from making their own rules legislating drones.

Aerospace Arizona, founded and operated in 2015 by Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, supports the aerospace industry throughout the State of Arizona. The association actively promotes the economic strength of the aerospace industry and tracks state legislation to ensure that new laws do not impede growth.

This November, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation along with its partners is hosting the second annual UAS Summit and Expo in the metro area. The three-day conference will be held in Mesa at the Sheraton Mesa Hotel at Wrigleyville West. The UAS Summit seeks to create awareness and visibility around the UAS and aerospace industry and to provide new opportunities for industry networking and education.

A diverse lineup of speakers and panel discussions planned for this year’s summit will showcase the talent and the depth of Arizona’s UAS industry from academia, to military, to commercial and real estate UAV applications. Brian Wynne, president of AUVSI will deliver a keynote address. For more information, visit