Beta Test Set for FAA Drone Authorizing System

For drone operators, using LAANC can get them near real-time airspace authorizations, far less time that the manual authorization process requires. Also, air traffic controllers can see where planned drone operations will take place.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced it is expanding tests of an automated system that will provide almost real-time processing of airspace authorization requests for drone operators nationwide. The agency will conduct a nationwide beta test beginning April 30 that will deploy the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) incrementally at nearly 300 air traffic facilities covering approximately 500 airports. Final deployment will begin on Sept. 13.

Under FAA's Part 107 small drone rule, operators must secure approval from the agency to operate in any airspace controlled by an air traffic facility. To facilitate those approvals, the agency deployed the prototype LAANC at several air traffic facilities last November to evaluate the feasibility of a fully automated solution enabled by data sharing. The prototype's success has paved the way for the nationwide beta test.

For drone operators, using LAANC can get them near real-time airspace authorizations, far less time that the manual authorization process requires. Also, air traffic controllers 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, beyond the four current providers — AirMap, Project Wing, Rockwell Collins, and Skyward. Applications must be submitted by May 16.

LAANC uses airspace data provided through UAS facility maps. The maps show the maximum altitude around airports where the FAA may authorize operations under Part 107. LAANC gives drone operators the ability to interact with the maps and provide automatic notification and authorization requests to FAA.

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