Breaking Down LAANC: Your Fastpass to the National Airspace System
Image Credit: AirMap
One of the first things you learn as a drone pilot is that you can’t fly everywhere, and there’s no stricter no-fly zone than airports. To the majority of us, airports and their surrounding area are forbidden territory, but there are a lucky few who have access to this restricted airspace.
That’s probably thanks to the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), one of multiple collaborations initiated by the FAA. But what is it exactly and how does it benefit commercial pilots? Today, we’re going to dive into the FAA website and break down how LAANC helps to bridge the gap between drones and restricted airspace.
Video Credit: Kittyhawk
The FAA website states that LAANC is the first partnership under the FAA UAS Data Exchange, which they describe to be “an innovative, collaborative approach between government and private industry facilitating the sharing of airspace data between the two parties.”
So, LAANC’s primary purpose is to assist in integrating UAS into the National Airspace System specifically by processing requests from commercial pilots. In other words, it bridges the gap between commercial pilots and airports by allowing drone companies to share and receive authorization information.
Video Credit: AirMap
The FAA has streamlined the application process for obtaining authorization into NAS by partnering up with businesses that already offer drone management and incorporating LAANC into their services. After completing the necessary technical steps, well-known drone businesses like AirMap, DJI, Kittyhawk, Project Wing, and Skyward have entered into an agreement with the FAA and have become approved LAANC UAS Service Suppliers.
Thus, a commercial pilot who relies on Kittyhawk to manage their drone fleet can also use their software to access LAANC to apply for permission to do a number of things, flying under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports being one of them. From there, It’s almost like they’re running a UAS background check using information from the FAA UAS Data Exchange to determine whether to give an applicant authorization or not. Image Credit: Kittyhawk
If you're a commercial drone pilot or a business that utilizes drones, you may want to look into a drone management service that's also a LAANC UAS Service Supplier like the ones mentioned above. These services have sped up the authorization process, and in some cases authorization has been given almsot immedialtey. The LAANC page on the FAA website features a table of approved suppliers and also clarifies whether Part 107 Near – Real Time Authorization and Part 107 Further Coordination are publicly available services with these companies. Read more about the LAANC and read the table of approved suppliers here.
I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron