FAA Expands LAANC to Recreational Drone Operators

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Starting today, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will expand its Low Altitude Authorization and Capability (LAANC) system to include recreational drone flyers.

According to the FAA, this move is designed to increase the ability of drone pilots to gain access to controlled airspace nationwide. Previously, recreational (i.e., hobbyist) flyers who wanted to operate in controlled airspace could do so only at certain “fixed sites.”

LAANC, a collaboration between the FAA and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry, expedites the time it takes for a drone pilot to receive authorization to fly under 400 feet in controlled airspace. It provides air traffic professionals with visibility into where and when authorized UAS are flying near airports and helps ensure that everyone can safely operate within the airspace, the FAA explains.

LAANC is available at approximately 400 air traffic facilities covering about 600 airports. It provides airspace authorizations only.

According to DJI, a LAANC UAS service supplier, the FAA’s latest move opens an estimated 2,000 square miles of airspace to recreational drone pilots.

“Drones have earned an admirable safety record around the world, and the FAA has recognized that they may be operated safely in certain areas near airports by both professional and recreational operators,” comments Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs. “Opening the LAANC system to recreational drone pilots is an important step in the FAA’s efforts to safely integrate drones into American skies by providing innovative solutions to regulatory requirements.”

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