FAA expands program to get drones in the air faster

The FAA has expanded its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program, which automates the application and approval process for drone operators to obtain airspace authorizations.

Four airports — Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dulles International Airport, William P. Hobby Airport in Houston and Newark Liberty International Airport — recently joined the list of approximately 400 air traffic facilities covering about 600 airports where LAANC is available.

DJI’s Spreading Wings S-1000 drone

Access to the service is provided through one of the FAA-approved unmanned aerial systems (UAS) service suppliers. Another seven companies recently partnered with the FAA, bringing the total to 21.

The new companies are:

  • Airspacelink
  • Avision
  • Botlink
  • Collins Aerospace
  • Drone Up
  • Simulyze
  • Skygrid

LAANC, a collaboration between the FAA and the UAS industry, expedites the time it takes for drone pilots to receive authorizations to fly under 400′ in controlled airspace. The service is accessible to all pilots who operate under the FAA’s small drone rule (Part 107).

LAANC began as a prototype in 2017. To date, there have been more than 170,000 approved authorizations through LAANC. The program was expanded in July to provide near real-time airspace authorizations to recreational flyers, according to FAA officials.

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