New LAANC Features and Additions Fall 2020

In case you missed it, recent updates to the  FAA’s LAANC program this fall allowed Kittyhawk to add more features and airports to our platform. Many of these new features expand what users can do, and make it easier to fly compliant UAS operations. This blog post will introduce some of these new features and explain how they improve your UAS operations and compliance with regulations.

If you’re unfamiliar with LAANC, you can learn more at https://kittyhawk.io/feature/laanc/, but in short, LAANC is the easiest way for UAS operators to apply for and receive near-instant authorization to operate in controlled airspace, via a web or mobile app.

Larger LAANC Authorization Areas

LAANC authorization areas can now span up to 10 miles. Larger LAANC authorization areas provide a few benefits to users: 

First, in the past, if your desired operations area was too large, these operations may have required multiple authorizations or not been able to use LAANC. Many use cases like agriculture or inspecting utilities or other infrastructure involve inspecting a farm field, mining operation, power transmission lines, or multiple locations within a large area. Now, many of these operations can take place under a single authorization. Ultimately, with authorizations covering up to 10 miles, you may be applying for fewer overall LAANC authorizations, and it is more likely that you can complete your intended operation within the requested area. 

Second, larger areas of authorization could eliminate the need for some Wide Area Authorizations through the FAA’s Drone Zone. Previously, some missions required operating areas that were too large for the LAANC system to authorize, which meant that users were forced to seek out Wide Area Authorizations. Now, with the larger operating areas, even fewer operations will be too large for LAANC to handle. In the coming months, additional features will be coming to make LAANC more capable and even easier to use in more missions. 

Managing LAANC Authorizations For Your Organization

A frequently-requested feature that was included in the recent LAANC update is the ability to apply for a LAANC authorization for someone else in your organization. Individual operators may not see as much value in this, but for an enterprise drone program, this feature makes some workflows much more efficient. 

The FAA recognized in the latest rules that some entities may have an individual who is not the operator responsible for logging into the LAANC system and who is both submitting and managing authorization requests. This is generally allowed as long as the authorization data, including the operator’s name and contact information, is correct and the operator is capable of being contacted during the operation. 

A UAS program manager can apply for a  LAANC authorization on behalf of the UAS operator in the field who will be flying the mission, even if those people are scattered across the country. This saves time for the operator, gives a program manager a lot more flexibility to assign missions, and makes it much easier to track LAANC authorizations across an organization.

Multiple Overlapping LAANC Authorizations

Each user can have up to three overlapping authorizations:

Additionally, the new update to LAANC allows each user to have up to three LAANC authorizations occurring during the same time period. Operations using these overlapping LAANC authorizations must be located within 100 nautical miles of one another. A real-world example of when this may be useful is if, for example, a UAS program manager had multiple RPICs in the field performing multiple operations at the same time. Now, this UAS program manager can apply for up to three LAANC authorizations on behalf of the operators to enable multiple PICs in the field to perform operations simultaneously in different controlled airspace.

Towers with Part-Time Operations

Also new to LAANC are additional airports with part-time operations. When a tower closes, formerly controlled airspace becomes Class G or Class E airspace with no LAANC required. The new update to LAANC effective September 24, 2020, added 133 new airports across the country that support LAANC. That brings the total across the United States to 537 air traffic facilities covering 726 airports. If you’re curious if your local airport is on the list, you can search our online resource for LAANC participating facilities here.

Future Areas of Development

If you have any questions or suggestions for features you would like to see included in future versions of LAANC, we would enjoy hearing from you. Reach out at support@kittyhawk.io.


SHARE THIS CONTENT