FAA, Industry Work To Automate Drone Airspace Authorizations
The Federal Aviation Administration is taking steps to automate the approvals that drone operators need to fly in controlled airspace and to track small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that are already in flight.
Under an initiative called the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), the FAA has developed maps with pre-approved flight zones and maximum altitudes for operating drones near airports. The agency expects to activate a prototype LAANC system by the end of the year, executives said March 27, during the FAA UAS Symposium in Reston, Virginia.
Once operational, the system will automate the FAA’s process of granting waivers and authorizations to commercial drone operators seeking to fly in controlled airspace, a process that can now take up to 90 days. LAANC will also provide a means for drone hobbyists to notify air traffic control when they plan to fly within five miles of an airport, a requirement expressed by Congress in 2012 FAA reauthorization legislation.
The LAANC system is considered a precursor to the comprehensive UTM (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Traffic Management) system a NASA-led team is developing for transfer to the FAA by 2019. “The current process for meeting authorization and notification requirements of existing rules is manually intensive and therefore costly,” the FAA states in a draft LAANC concept of operations document released in February. “The FAA is seeking to close the gap of manual versus automated data transfer and authorizations by defining and establishing a technological solution that will allow for data exchange between operators and ATC.”
While the FAA is providing map information and a communications connection, it will rely on third-party providers (TPP) to serve as the interface, or a type of middleman, with drone operators. Continue reading about the latest FAA and industry project.