The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is evaluating a prototype low-altitude authorisation and notification capability (LAANC) system for near real-time processing of requests for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators.

LAANC is the one of the first UAS tools to provide drone related information to the air traffic control (ATC).

The system has been specifically designed to automatically approve most requests to operate in specific areas of airspace below designated altitudes. In addition, it is the first step required in developing a UAS traffic management system (UTM).

AirMap and Skyward are currently providing LAANC services having implemented LAANC for drone operators at several air traffic facilities.

"The FAA intends to launch a national Beta test and solicit participation from new industry partners."

This will help evaluate the functional capability of the prototype system and will address any issues that arise during testing.

During the assessment, the agency may sign agreements with additional providers who responded to the original request for information. The evaluation of the prototype system will continue until spring next year.

Following the study, the FAA intends to launch a national Beta test and solicit participation from new industry partners.

Under the FAA’s small drone rules, operators need to secure approval from the agency to operate in any airspace controlled by an air traffic facility.

LAANC is the first application developed by the industry to address this operational requirement.

The tool uses airspace data provided through the UAS facility maps, which highlight the maximum altitude around airports where the agency may authorise operations under Part 107.

It also enables the drone operators to interact with the maps and provide automatic notification and authorisation requests to the FAA.