The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced two important expansions of the Low Altitude Authorization and Capability (LAANC) programme, which automates the application and approval process for drone operators to obtain airspace authorizations.
Four airports – Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dulles International Airport, William P. Hobby Airport in Houston and Newark Liberty International Airport – have joined the list of approximately 400 air traffic facilities covering about 600 airports where LAANC is available.
Access to the service is provided through one of the FAA-approved UAS Service Suppliers. Seven new companies – Airspacelink, Avision, Botlink, Collins Aerospace, Drone Up, Simulyze and Skygrid – are the latest to enter into partnerships with the agency, bringing the total to 21.
The following companies have completed the technical steps required — and entered into agreement with the FAA to provide LAANC Services.
|Approved service supplier||Part 107 Near-real time authorisation||Part 107 further coordination||Exception for recreational flying/section 44809|
x = Publicly available service
LAANC is a collaboration between the FAA and the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry that directly supports the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace, expedites the time it takes for drone pilots to receive authorizations to fly under 400 feet in controlled airspace. The service is accessible to all pilots who operate under the FAA’s small drone rule (PDF) (Part 107).
According to the FAA:
“LAANC began as a prototype in 2017. To date, there have been more than 170,000 approved authorizations through LAANC. The program was expanded in July to provide near real-time airspace authorizations to recreational flyers. The program’s continued expansion further increases the ability of drone pilots to gain safe and efficient access to controlled airspace nationwide.
LAANC provides: drone pilots with access to controlled airspace at or below 400 feet, awareness of where pilots can and cannot fly, air traffic professionals with visibility into where and when drones are operating. Through the UAS Data Exchange, the capability facilitates the sharing of airspace data between the FAA and companies approved by the FAA to provide LAANC services…LAANC automates the application and approval process for airspace authorizations. Through automated applications developed by an FAA Approved UAS Service Suppliers (USS) pilots apply for an airspace authorization.
“Requests are checked against multiple airspace data sources in the FAA UAS Data Exchange such as UAS Facility Maps, Special Use Airspace data, Airports and Airspace Classes, as well as Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs). If approved, pilots can receive their authorization in near-real time. Unless specifically requested in an authorization, drone pilots do not need to notify the tower before they fly.
“LAANC provides airspace authorizations only. Pilots must still check NOTAMs, weather conditions, and abide by all airspace restrictions.”