The Federal Aviation Administration has announced an expansion of their Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) testing program, which allows non-recreational drone pilots into certain controlled airspace.
Aimed at specifically designated sites, the new development increases access to 600 airports, although that number is subject to change at any time.
According to the FAA, LAANC, still in beta testing, “directly supports UAS integration into the airspace.”
“It provides access to controlled airspace near airports through near real-time processing of airspace authorizations below approved altitudes in controlled airspace.”
The first public-private partnership under FAA’s Unmanned Aerial System Data Exchange, LAANC directly supports the safe integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into controlled airspace.
The program has granted controlled access to airspace for more than 100,000 flights since its initiation in 2017, according to director of strategy at Skyward Matt Fanelli: “People have been asking the FAA to add more airports and today, 109 contract towers have now been added to LAANC.”
Contract towers are simply air traffic control towers that are run by private companies rather than by the FAA.
LAANC gives air traffic professionals the visibility to see where and when authorized drones are flying near airports, helping make sure that everyone in the airspace can operate safely.