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FAA Issues Millionth Airspace Authorization to Drone Pilots Under LAANC Program

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The Federal Aviation Administration has issued its millionth airspace authorization for unmanned aerial vehicle pilots less than four years after it launched an automated system for providing drone operators permission to fly in restricted airspaces.

The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability system automates the process for commercial and recreational drone pilots to request and secure approval from the FAA to operate in any controlled airspace as required by Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, the agency said Friday.

In 2017, FAA launched LAANC as a prototype for automating the authorization process after it acknowledged that the manual system delayed the agency’s goal to support routine UAV operations.

The system became an official program in 2018 to enable drone pilots to request airspace authorizations through any of the FAA-approved LAANC service suppliers up to 90 days before they plan to fly in restricted airspace at or below 400 ft.

“This system has allowed drone pilots to gain timely access to busy airspace without sacrificing safety,” said Teri Bristol, the chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization.

The FAA expanded the program in 2021 to authorize night flying in controlled zones.