The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted permission for nine new companies to provide Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) services for professional drone pilots.

LAANC, an innovative partnership between the FAA and the drone industry, delivers near real-time processing of airspace authorisations for Part 107 drone operators across the US who fly in controlled airspace.

The nine companies are Aeronyde, Airbus, AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Converge, DJI, KittyHawk, UASidekick and Unifly. They were selected following completion of a five-month onboarding process that started in April.

The nine LAANC service providers join five companies including AirMap, Harris Corp, Project Wing, Skyward and Thales Group that have already met the technical and legal requirements to provide the services.

Leveraging airspace data, including UAS facility maps, the LAANC offers drone operators the ability to interact with industry developed applications and get near real-time permission from the FAA.

“LAANC allows easy drone use in more than 2,000 square miles near airports, including many populated areas that can benefit tremendously from drone operations.”

DJI Enterprise Solutions programme manager Brandon Montellato said: “Before LAANC, using drones for productive work near many airports required detailed applications and up to months of waiting, even when the benefits were clear and safety was prioritised.

“Now, LAANC allows easy drone use in more than 2,000 square miles near airports, including many populated areas that can benefit tremendously from drone operations.

“More than 100,000 Part 107-certified drone pilots will now be able to perform valuable work – from inspections and surveys to filming and photography – with near-instant approval.”

LAANC operates as a foundation for developing the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System (UTM).

Currently, it is available at approximately 300 FAA air traffic facilities across the US, covering about 500 airports.

Additionally, LAANC enables professional drone pilots to operate within controlled airspace where commercial drone flights are generally banned unless they have prior permission.

The service assigns locations within airspace that can be used safely up to approved altitudes, monitoring temporary flight restrictions and other limits that can affect flights there.

Using LAANC pilots review those limits, plan flights and file applications.