After the success of an initial prototyping phase, the Federal Aviation Administration is planning on expanding their LAANC system. Standing for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, the LAANC system is an answer to the airspace restrictions that are inherent within Part 107 of the FAA’s regulations. These regulations are designed to ensure the safety and security of personnel and sensitive locations. They govern the times, locations and conditions under which a drone pilot can operate their craft. Part 107 was, in part, a response to overly burdensome previous laws that required a full pilot certificate to operate a drone commercially.
While most of the restrictions under Part 107 can be suspended with an appropriate waiver, the process for approval was extremely slow. LAANC is a digitally integrated, near real-time system that allows drone pilots to apply for, and receive, approval for waivers. Where previously a drone operator could expect weeks to months of wait time between application and approval, LAANC allows for near instantaneous response. It also provides air traffic controllers with immediate knowledge of location and parameters for the approved drone flights.
The program began late last year and included an initial test of only 200 airports. Using associated applications, pilots could mark their intended flight location and the associated waivers – after which they would be approved by the system, unless flagged for further review. The prototype program has succeeded, and a full nationwide roll-out is expected by the end of 2018. This beta phase will include an additional 300 airports, for a total of 500.
The FAA has already laid out the roadmap for the full release, intending to include a new region each month. Starting on April 30th, the roll-out will proceed as follows;
• April 30th: South Central USA
• May 24th: Western North USA
• June 21st: Western South USA
• July 19th: Eastern South USA
• August 16th: Eastern North USA
• September 13th: Central North USA
Based on this outline, Nevada drone pilots can expect LAANC to be available at their local airports sometime before July 19th. The easiest way to learn the particulars of waiver application and integration with the LAANC system, along with specific Nevada drone regulations, is through commercial drone training courses. A FAA issued remote airman certification is required to apply for these waivers.