Corvallis, Ore.-based VDOS Global uses aerial robotics and remote sensing to provide oil and gas inspections, environmental research, aerial surveying and other services using for its clients around the world. (VDOS image)

FAA Expanding Drone Airspace Authorization

LAANC helps support the safe integration of drones into the nation's airspace. Drone operators using the system can receive near real-time airspace authorizations, cutting the wait experienced using the manual authorization process and letting operators quickly plan their flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration on April 30 began expanding an automated system that will ultimately provide near real-time processing of airspace authorization requests for drone operators nationwide. The agency said it began that day phasing in a nationwide beta test of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) that will deploy the system incrementally at nearly 300 air traffic facilities covering approximately 500 airports.

The beta expansion follows successful evaluation of a prototype LAANC system last November. The final deployment will begin on Sept. 13, according to FAA's announcement.

LAANC helps support the safe integration of drones into the nation's airspace. Drone operators using the system can receive near real-time airspace authorizations, cutting the wait experienced using the manual authorization process and letting operators quickly plan their flights. LAANC uses airspace data provided through temporary flight restrictions, NOTAMS, and UAS facility maps that show the maximum altitude ceiling around airports where the FAA may authorize operations under Part 107.

Starting April 16, FAA also began considering agreements with additional entities to provide LAANC services. Supplier applications must be made by May 16. Interested parties can find information on the application process here. FAA and industry are working together to develop and deploy LAANC applications, which FAA says will help set the global standard for a safe and efficient unmanned traffic management system.

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