Fast Take: To Unleash Economic Potential of Drones, Timing Is Everything

In 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled a data exchange partnership called Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) that will provide a drone operator a nearly immediate decision on whether an operation in controlled airspace will be approved. LAANC is the first FAA-industry partnership in what it calls the UAS Data Exchange. Under Part 107, a drone may not be flown in controlled airspace without authorization from Air Traffic Control. That manual process might take months. To expedite this process, the FAA developed Facility Maps – essentially grids of airspace around commercial service airports that would determine the maximum safe altitude (which could be no altitude) for a drone operation near an airport. LAANC is an industry--developed automated process. The FAA launched a prototype in 2017 and plans this year to conduct beta testing. The FAA provides airspace data to service suppliers that have developed an app to receive the request and grant or deny the request. Although there are now four service suppliers, other companies may apply to perform this role.

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