The LAANC program fixes a major problem for drone operators, who have struggled with long delays to receive airspace authorizations. With the LAANC program, operators using some flight management apps can apply for an almost instant airspace authorization to fly under 400 feet through the app. The program will soon be open to all applications, but during beta test is currently limited to a few providers who participated in the pilot program: AirMap, Skyward, Project Wing, and Rockwell Collins.
Over 50 new airports, including major airports in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles were added to the program in this release, which is “Wave 3” of the 6 wave rollout (the FAA schedule can be found here, the lists of participating airports can be found here.) The rollout is scheduled to be completed by September of 2018, at which time the FAA says that the beta test will cover over 300 air traffic control facilities covering about 500 airports.
The LAANC program represents a very significant move forward for the industry, removing a barrier for the operator and significantly opening up the airspace available for commercial missions.
“The FAA’s LAANC program has enabled the entire drone industry and others, like insurance, to have more access to aerial images and data within a matter of seconds, compared to the 90-day wait time before,” said Dan Burton, CEO and Co-Founder, DroneBase. “We’ve already seen LAANC benefit our customers since we’re able to say ‘yes’ 99 percent of the time in Texas and other regions where the program is already available. Before LAANC, we had to say ‘no’ to 30 percent of U.S. addresses due to restricted airspace. When it rolls out to the entire country, no other option will be needed and companies across industries will be able to leverage drone technology to help their clients faster, more reliably, and more affordably.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.