Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its millionth airspace authorization for drone pilots under its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program. In order to operate in controlled airspace, drone operators must obtain approval from the FAA under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Prior to the introduction of LAANC, these authorizations had to be completed manually, resulting in long waiting periods for approval.
LAANC was launched in 2017, after the FAA recognized that the manual system delayed its ability to support routine drone operations. LAANC automates the process for drone pilots to quickly gain authorization and provides air traffic controllers with information on drone operations and their locations, allowing for automatic airspace approvals.
As of today, the LAANC system includes 542 air traffic facilities serving approximately 735 airports. LAANC also easily allows the FAA to provide drone pilots with information and guidance on where they can and cannot fly. As of last year, the LAANC system started providing authorizations for flying drones at night as well. For airspace authorizations not covered by LAANC, drone pilots can request authorizations through the FAA’s Drone Zone.