Automated ATC Authorization For Drone Flights Will Occur At These 50 Airports This Fall
Drone operators in Cincinnati, Miami, and Phoenix rejoice: you will be among the first to receive automated authorization to fly in controlled airspace, rather than enduring months-long wait times. (Full disclosure, I am the co-founder of AirMap which is among the companies working with the FAA to open up the airspace for drones, this information is based on those experiences).
Today, flights in controlled airspace, at certain times of day, or near sensitive locations require authorization from the FAA. Typically, these permissions are subject to lengthy waiting periods and manual approvals – creating delays and preventing commercial operations from taking off at high scale.
Real estate photography, building inspections, and agricultural monitoring are all jobs that drone entrepreneurs are ready to safely take on, and in Class G airspace, these operations are becoming commonplace. But if a commercial drone flight would take place in controlled airspace near an airport, drone pilots must wait up to 90 days to receive permission to fly from the FAA.
The 90-day waiver process is a major barrier to drone innovation, grounding drone entrepreneurs before they can take off. And it requires that the FAA manually approve or deny each flight request, an administrative burden that will only grow as millions more drones take flight.
Fortunately, the FAA is meeting this challenge head on. Earlier this year, the FAA published an RFI and selected a small group of 12 companies (including AirMap) to determine how third party vendors could help the FAA provide automated authorization for drone flights.
Called the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, or LAANC, the initiative will allow drone operators to apply for digital authorization using the applications they already use for flight planning and in-flight situational awareness. With automated authorization, drone operators will receive instant, digital approval to fly in much of our nation’s controlled airspace.