Waiting three months for drone authorization from the FAA may soon become a nightmare of the past. Get ready for instant approval to fly in controlled U.S. airspace thanks to AirMap and the LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) program.
The launch of the LAANC pilot program is the culmination of a year of collaborative development with the FAA and other LAANC project partners, working together since 2016, when the FAA opened its competitive FAA Request for Information process to industry providers. Of the applicants, 12 LAANC partners, including AirMap, were chosen to participate.
“We’ve worked together to define the parameters of LAANC and build technology solutions that connect drone operators and the FAA in ways that are digital, automated, efficient, and easy for everyone,” said Ben Marcus, AirMap CEO. “We’re very proud of our LAANC integration and excited to bring digital authorization to more airports in the coming weeks and months. We also hope we can share LAANC authorization with our entire developer community very soon.”
Providers like AirMap are streamlining the authorization process for the FAA; they’re not privatizing the airspace in a pay-to-play fashion as some operators have expressed unease about on closed Facebook forums.
“To be clear, this is still the FAA,” Marcus explained. “LAANC providers like AirMap are helping the FAA make the airspace authorization process much easier and more accessible for commercial drone operators. In contrast to the waiver process, which can take up to 90 days, you can now get automated authorization to fly in controlled airspace in seconds, up to predetermined altitudes. Even for more complex flights that might need coordination with air traffic control, including flights at higher altitudes or closer to airports, you can request manual authorization, and receive confirmation in 30 days or less. In reality, it can be much quicker than that: some of our users have reported that manual authorizations are being approved in as little as a minute.”
Drone operators should not worry about additional costs since LAANC authorization is free on the AirMap platform. Anyone can download the AirMap iOS or Android app to get started with LAANC authorization.
“Public-private collaboration is a necessity for the drone industry. Because the FAA is working with providers like AirMap to bring LAANC authorization to the drone community, we can move much more quickly to open airspace for more complex drone operations,” Marcus said. “The FAA’s approach should be applauded: LAANC is harnessing the power of competition and collaboration to spur innovation and make more airspace more accessible for drone entrepreneurs.
“LAANC will be a game-changer for the U.S. drone ecosystem,” he continued. “One of our partners, for example, today rejects two-thirds of customer flight requests because they occur in controlled airspace. When fully deployed, LAANC could triple their business. We’ll see this impact multiply across the drone industry as LAANC takes off. That's great news for drone operators and for our economy.”
More FAA facilities are expected to offer LAANC authorization in the next few months, with a larger nationwide initiative expected in 2018.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll see many, if not most, of the country’s airports participating next year,” Marcus said.