FAA touches 1-million milestone for airspace authorisation for drone pilots
The automated system – LAANC – has provided authorisations for drone pilots requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued its millionth airspace authorisation for drone pilots to safely use busy airspace.
On the achievement, Teri L. Bristol, chief operating officer of the FAA's Air Traffic Organisation, said, "We are grateful to everyone who helped us reach this milestone safely."
A collaboration between FAA and the industry, Low Altitude Authorisation and Notification Capability (LAANC), directly supports Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) integration into the airspace. Under the FAA-UAS Data Exchange umbrella, the agency will support multiple partnerships, the first of which is the LAANC.
LAANC automates the process for drone pilots to quickly gain authorisation and provides air traffic professionals with an awareness of where drones may be operating.
Bristol said the system allowed drone pilots to gain timely access to busy airspace without sacrificing safety.
Under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, drone operators need to secure approval from the FAA to operate in any airspace controlled by an air traffic facility.
Prior to LAANC, airspace authorisations were done manually, which could take drone pilots weeks to get approved. In 2017, the FAA recognised that the manual system delayed the agency's goal to support routine drone operations and launched LAANC as a prototype for automatic airspace approvals.
Since becoming an official programme in 2018, LAANC has provided an automated system for drone pilots – both commercial pilots and recreational pilots – requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace.
Drone pilots are able to request airspace authorisations through any of the FAA-Approved LAANC Service Suppliers up to 90 days before they plan to fly. The system now covers 542 air traffic facilities serving approximately 735 airports. LAANC also allows the agency to provide drone pilots with information and guidance on where they can and cannot fly a drone.
In 2021, the LAANC capability expanded to provide night authorisations to Part 107 Remote Pilots.
Drone pilots can also request airspace authorisations using the FAA DroneZone, including for areas not covered by LAANC or when the operator holds a Part 107 waiver.
What 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.