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  • Charl Jooste

LAANC to Begin Massive Expansion to an Additional 500 Airports

Photo: Skyward

That’s right, as soon as next month, the LAANC nationwide expansion will start. This is a massive boost for the commercial drone industry and will mean improved safety and much faster access - a move that will lead to incredible growth opportunities.

The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) was rolled out at a few air traffic facilities in November of 2017. This was a prototype project to facilitate and speed up the approval required by the FAA for drones or unmanned aircraft (UAS) to operate in any air traffic controlled airspace.

In six months LAANC has proved to be a major success. Based on the very positive prototype results, LAANC will be rolled out to almost 300 air traffic control facilities throughout the United States. These facilities account for roughly 500 airports and cover around 78,000 miles of airspace.

The rollout will begin in April 2018 and will be a great benefit to the commercial drone industry. The current manual waiver application process takes three months or more, whereas the new digital LAANC system is almost immediate when using an approved LAANC provider known as an Approved UAS Service Suppliers (USS). It requires little more than a tap on the USS app and approval is given within seconds.

The planned rollout is as follows:

  • April 30: South Central USA

  • May 24: Western North USA

  • June 21: Western South USA

  • July 19: Eastern South USA

  • August 16: Eastern North USA

  • September 13: Central North USA

This is really great news for drone pilots in the first locations but the latest some of the other states will have to wait is until early fall.

There are a few USS companies offering LAANC digital authorization but AirMap is one of the leading providers. The AirMap app or website (we prefer the classic site) allows you to plan your flight and request digital authorization.

This exciting development was announced on 06 March 2018 by Dan Elwell, Acting Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The announcement was made at the 3rd Annual UAS Symposium on its opening day in Baltimore, Maryland.

There is no doubt this fantastic development will have a meaningful impact on the commercial drone sector and lead to further growth and development as LAANC is rolled out.


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