FAA to conduct beta test of drones using LAANC in April

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March 7, 2018: Based on the success of the prototype of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification (LAANC), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be conducting a beta test across US, beginning April 30. 

According to Dan Elwell, Acting Administrator of Maryland, FAA will be expanding tests of an automated system that will provide near real-time processing of airspace authorisation requests for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators across US. It will also deploy LAANC at nearly 300 air traffic facilities, covering approximately 500 airports. The final deployment will begin on September 13.

Under the FAA’s Part 107 small drone rule, operators need to secure approvals from the agency to operate in any airspace controlled by an air traffic facility. 

To facilitate these approvals, the agency deployed the prototype of LAANC at several air traffic facilities last November to evaluate the feasibility of a fully automated solution enabled by data sharing. 

Drone operators using LAANC can receive near real-time airspace authorisation. It will dramatically decrease the wait experienced using the manual authorisation process and allows operators to quickly plan their flights. Air traffic controllers also can see where planned drone operations will take place.

Beginning April 16, the FAA also will consider agreements with additional entities to provide LAANC services. Currently, there are four providers, including AirMap, Project Wing, Rockwell Collins and Skyward. 

LAANC uses airspace data provided through UAS facility maps. The maps show the maximum altitude around airports where the FAA may authorise operations under Part 107. LAANC gives drone operators the ability to interact with the maps and provide automatic notification and authorization requests to the FAA. It is an important step in developing the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System (UTM).

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