The FAA has announced nine partner additions to its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) initiative. The collaborative program between the FAA and drone industry stakeholders provides near real-time processing of airspace authorizations for Part 107 drone operators seeking to fly in controlled airspace.
The five-month onboarding process started in April. Then nine new LAANC partners are Aeronyde, Airbus, AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Converge, DJI, KittyHawk, UASidekick and Unifly.
They join five companies that have already met the technical and legal requirements to provide LAANC services: AirMap, Harris Corp., Project Wing, Skyward and Thales Group.
What’s LAANC all about?
The LAANC program is all about providing access to controlled airspace to Part 107 pilots in a timely manner. Instead of waiting around for hours, days or weeks to get approval to fly, LAANC provides near real-time authorization.
Pilots can use LAANC to review altitude and operational limits in the area, plan flights and file applications. LAANC systems will process their application instantly and provides information about drone flights to FAA Air Traffic.
The result? More situational awareness and improved aviation safety.
The system uses airspace data, including UAS facility maps, which shows the maximum altitude around airports where the FAA may authorize operations under Part 107 in controlled airspace. Drone operators can then apply through industry-developed applications to obtain authorization from the FAA.
LAANC is seen as a cornerstone for developing the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System (UTM). It’s now available at nearly 300 FAA air traffic facilities across the country, covering approximately 500 airports.
The FAA is still accepting applications from industry parties interested in becoming LAANC service providers. Interested parties can find information on the application process here.
Read more: FAA Explains the LAANC Program
DJI well positioned to offer LAANC services
Given that the majority of commercial drone flights are made using DJI aircraft, it makes sense that the industry’s leading manufacturer should provide LAANC services through its own application.
The green light from the FAA to actively participate in the program suggests that U.S. authorities have backed off from any trepidation when it comes to working with the Chinese company. A range of data security-related stories had tarnished DJI’s reputation in the past year or so.
“Offering LAANC capability to our customers is another example of our dedication to meeting their needs,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI VP of Policy & Legal Affairs.
“The LAANC system is a testament to the FAA’s global leadership in integrating drones into the airspace safely and efficiently, including in areas that are close to airports, using a technology solution that reflects the fast-paced development of the drone industry.”
Brandon Montellato, DJI Program Manager for Enterprise Solutions argues that opening up controlled airspace for real-time authorizations will make drone pilots’ lives easier.
“Before LAANC, using drones for productive work near many airports required detailed applications and up to months of waiting, even when the benefits were clear and safety was prioritized,” he said.
Now, LAANC allows easy drone use in more than 2,000 square miles near airports, including many populated areas that can benefit tremendously from drone operations. More than 100,000 Part 107-certified drone pilots will now be able to perform valuable work – from inspections and surveys to filming and photography – with near-instant approval.”