The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) nationwide deployment of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) has exceeded all of the program’s original objectives, the agency has announced.
Since LAANC began with a prototype system last November, the program has processed more than 50,000 applications from drone operators for authorization to fly in controlled airspace, according to the FAA. The agency kicked off its nationwide beta test of LAANC in April.
The system now covers almost 300 air traffic facilities serving approximately 500 airports, providing near-instantaneous approvals and allowing operators to quickly plan their flights, the FAA explains.
The agency points out that LAANC helps support the safe integration of drones into the nation’s airspace. The system uses airspace data provided through temporary flight restrictions; notices to airmen; and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) facility maps, which show the maximum altitude ceiling around airports where the FAA may authorize operations under Part 107, the small drone rule for commercial and public agency operators.
Back in March 2017, Earl Lawrence – director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office – speaking before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, called LAANC the “first step toward implementing UTM,” a UAS traffic management system. One of the first elements of LAANC was the release of the UAS facility maps. Then, a 12-member FAA/industry working group – created following an FAA request for information – helped develop LAANC and bring it to fruition.
The FAA has now approved 14 LAANC service suppliers: Aeronyde, Airbus, AirMap, AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Converge, DJI, Harris Corp., Kittyhawk, Project Wing, Skyward, Thales Group, UASidekick and Unifly.
“The LAANC system is a testament to the FAA’s global leadership in integrating drones into the airspace safely and efficiently, including in areas that are close to airports, using a technology solution that reflects the fast-paced development of the drone industry,” Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs, recently said.