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  • Charl Jooste

No More Waiting Months For FAA Airspace Authorization

Waiting 60 to 90 days for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for commercial drone flights has been a cause of much frustration for some time now. All parties wanted that approval window to come down. How does a few seconds sound? That is exactly what Skyward have achieved. Operators are now able to get instant approval through a simple process that literally takes only seconds.

Skyward, part of the Verizon fold, specialize in integrated solutions for commercial drone use. They recently got FAA approval to provide operators of commercial drones immediate approval in controlled airspace. They are now one of 12 in the FAA's working group that can offer this.

The authority was granted by the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) services of the FAA. The service will be operational shortly and will initially be available at Cincinnati International Airport (CVG), Reno (RNO), San Jose (SJC), and Lincoln (LNK) and a few more to be confirmed. By year end there should be 49 on board with even more to follow in the new year.

Matt Fanelli, strategy director at Skyward, had the following to say: “This is a stepping stone for UAS traffic management, and the FAA has been visionary in deploying LAANC as a meaningful step forward,” said Skyward.

This intelligent system will replace the current manual authorization requests that take months to get through the system. With a few clicks, approval has just gone form months to seconds. With commercial drone use currently experiencing a meteoric growth already, such developments will only serve to fuel this growth and lead to greater investment and more development. While many still see unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones as something used mostly by the military or hobbyists, commercial applications account for the majority of recent growth in the market. The construction and building industry, in particular, is one of the largest adopters of this technology and look set to continue driving growth for the foreseeable future.

There is little doubt that this a big step in the right direction and is certain to drive the already booming commercial and enterprise drone market and will dramatically increase uptake of the technology. No military drone applications have been in wide use for some time in a range of industries and situations. A recent example of drone applications was their widely publicized use in disaster relief are the widespread devastation by the recent spate of hurricanes. Over 200 emergency-drone applications were authorized by the FAA who said that they were "invaluable in supporting response and recovery efforts" after the devastation.

While drones will continue to be popular on the hobby market and for military use, there is little doubt that the commercial sector will see phenomenal growth over the coming years. The instant approval makes the use of drones more accessible and valuable to a range of industries, construction in particular. Drones can do critical inspections and evaluations in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods. Not having to wait months for approval that can now be accessed immediately will make the use of drones a standard practice across the construction industry. Many new applications will continue to evolve and develop for a wide range of industries as these hurdles are removed.

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