Santa Monica, CA based Air Map is working with the FAA on Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). The results of that collaboration are significant and should come as great news to commercial sUAS pilots. To fully appreciate LAANC, I’ll share my personal situation, as an example.
I have a commercial sUAS license; as such, I’m allowed to operate in controlled airspace. However, before I can get airborne in controlled airspace, I must obtain an FAA waiver. I’m required to do that regardless of planned operating altitude. In my area, it requires 5 different authorizations that could take as long as 90 days to approve. Efficient management of low-altitude air space is complex but essential to commercial sUAS operation and LAANC when fully implemented allows commercial drone pilots instant digital authorization.
LAANC works in conjunction with FAA facility maps allowing the sUAS Remote Pilot to provided instantaneous notification to the FAA. Recreational drone operators are still required to notify the airport if flight will occur within a 5 mile radius.
Earlier this summer, the FAA kicked off LAANC by releasing UAS facility maps depicting specific areas and altitudes near over 300 airports where drone operators can request airspace authorization faster and more efficiently. This fall, 50 airports are preparing to provide automated airspace authorization.
Providing automated authorization is a subset of a project designated as Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM). UTM will ultimately control low altitude unmanned traffic of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) commercial drone operations worldwide.