Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) - Receive FAA airspace authorization for your sUAS within moments -- saving months of time.
Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability or (LAANC) is one of the new and trending talks of the town, in the UAS industry. It is the first attempt of a partnership under the umbrella of The FAA UAS Data Exchange, which is a new innovative approach between government and the private industry to work together and manage the sharing of airspace data between the two parties.
But what is it and how is it going to affect the industry? I am glad you asked!
Just to give you some context and insight on the industry regulations, drone pilots currently have to apply for special permits to be able to operate within a certain radius and altitude of any airport in the United States. Even if a pilot’s particular project is to take place below an altitude of 400 ft., permission must be given by applying for the necessary permit and acquiring the necessary authorization.
The application process sounds easy enough, however, actually poses an issue and hindrance for drone pilots across the country. Since acquiring said authorization/permit is a 19 step process and there is no real time data, it can take as long as six months or more to obtain.
Very seldom are any drone service companies or clients of UAS, planning projects 6 months in advance. Without the proper permissions, service providers have to turn down projects that are too close in proximity of an airport and fails the clients by not being able to meet their needs. This ultimately makes everyone, drone pilots and clients alike, to lose out on potential business.
That being said, there has to be a way for drone service providers to be granted access to this airspace in a relatively quick manner, while still maintaining safety for everyone. This is where LAANC comes in. It enables drone pilots access to controlled airspace near airports through essentially real-time managing of airspace authorizations below approved altitudes in controlled airspace.
How Does it Work?
It’s all about the DATA! For the airport side, approved airspace authorization data allows Air Traffic Controllers to see where planned drone operations will take place. This lets them diminish risk and hazards by ensuring no other aircraft will be operating near a drone operation. In the event of emergency or unplanned temporary flight restrictions, air traffic control can also reach the pilot and ground the drone if need be.
For the UAS and private side, drone pilots can utilize same data via LAANC through different applications that are developed by approved UAS Service Suppliers. These apps enable the access to controlled airspace near airports by using data provided by the FAA UAS Facility Maps. These maps show the maximum altitudes around airports where the Approved UAS Service Providers may offer near-real time airspace authorizations.
Additionally, they will also utilize data streams containing other airspace information such as temporary flight restrictions, airspace data, and NOTAMs that are relevant and need to be broadcasted to pilots. Put all of this together and it allows UAS Service Suppliers to visualize and have a clear picture of a complex airspace and ensure that each authorization granted adheres to strict safety regulation.
So What’s the Benefit?
The FAA is dedicated to ensuring drones are able to operate safely in the same airspace with manned aircraft, which is why we have the current regulations in place. The new LAANC capability not only adheres to these set regulations, but also offers the UAS industry the opportunity to collaborate with the FAA and effectively develop a UAS traffic management system that will improve the safety for all.
Not only will safety be improved with LAANC capabilities, but it will also create more efficiency and timely execution of projects for service providers. Again, currently under the small UAS rule, pilots or operators intending to work in controlled airspace under 400 ft., must receive an airspace authorization from the FAA which involves a 19-step manual application process and can take up to six months or more to complete and obtain.
Through an approved UAS Service Supplier, pilots and drone companies will now receive near real-time airspace authorizations which will dramatically decrease the wait time experienced with the current manual process. This will allow pilots and operators to quickly plan their operation as well as execute in a safe manner to meet client’s needs. No more having to plan projects half a year in advance or having to turn down business that needs a quick turnaround!
When is this happening?
As of now, LAANC capabilities are only being provided by a handful of companies that have completed the proper steps required and have entered into agreement with the FAA to provide LAANC Services. These companies include AirMap, Project Wing, Rockwell Collins, and Skyward.
On April 30, 2018, the FAA will begin to roll out the capability via the aforementioned companies’ applications regionally, as part of a National Beta Test.
South Central USA — April 30, 2018 Western North USA — May 24, 2018 Western South USA — June 21, 2018 Eastern South USA — July 19, 2018 Eastern North USA — August 16, 2018 Central North USA — September 13, 2018
We here at Angel Hawk UAS are firm believers in staying at the forefront of technology, regulations, and strategy. Therefore, plan on seeing Angel Hawk wings as part of the initial beta and one of the first users of LAANC. We are excited to see how this technology will grow and improve and elated at the opportunity to be able to support initiatives to improve the UAS industry.
If you want to fly in controlled airspace near airports not offering LAANC, you can either use the manual process to apply for an authorization, or wait until the LAANC is available in your region.
Before applying respondents must read and understand the following documents:
How to Apply (PDF)
LAANC Concept of Operations (PDF)
USS Operating Rules (PDF)
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) (PDF)
USS Onboarding Demonstration and Test Plan (PDF)
Note: Reference in this site to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the Federal Aviation Administration.