FAA expands LAANC for recreational or hobbyist drone pilots as of today

As of today, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expands LAANC to include recreational or hobbyist drone pilots. DroneDJ first reported on this in March 2019 and again on July 1, so for avid readers of our website, today’s announcement should come as no surprise. The FAA has selected three different technology providers that you can work with to request access to controlled airspace for your recreational drone flights. They are KittyHawk, UASideKick, and Airmap, and they all provide apps for your smartphone.

LAANC for recreational or hobbyist drone pilots

Earlier today, the FAA tweeted the following video from Tim Arel, Deputy COO FAA Air Traffic Organization. In the short clip, he announces that the expansion of LAANC will now include recreational drone flights.

What is LAANC and how does it work?

LAANC stands for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability and provides drone pilots with near real-time access to controlled airspace. Commercial drone pilots have been using this system for some time now, and as of today, recreational or hobbyist drone pilots are required to use LAANC as well to gain access to controlled airspace. LAANC was developed by the FAA in partnership with the drone industry.

All drone pilots who are looking to fly their unmanned aircraft “under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports must receive an airspace authorization from the FAA before they fly,” according to the FAA website.

LAANC is available to both hobbyist drone pilots flying under the exception for Recreational Flyers, or to pilots operating under the Small UAS Rule Part 107.

You can use LAANC around roughly 400 air traffic facilities covering about 600 airports. If LAANC is not available in your area, you will need to use the manual process to apply for authorization.

Through the LAANC system, drone pilots submit their request to fly a drone at a certain time, date, and location. These requests are checked against multiple airspace data sources in the FAA UAS Data Exchange such as UAS Facility Maps, Special Use Airspace data, Airports, and Airspace Classes, as well as Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs). When approved, drone fliers will receive their authorization in near real-time.

Using the LAANC system will not allow you to fly at night, over people, or beyond-line-of-sight (BVLOS). For those sorts of drone flights, you will need to request a waiver.

What do you think about using LAANC? Let us know in the comments below.

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