FAA evaluating prototype UAS Airspace Authorization System



The FAA is evaluating a prototype system that is designed to automatically approve most requests to operate UAS in specific areas of airspace below designated altitudes.

The expectation is that this type of system will ultimately provide “near real-time processing of airspace authorization requests” for UAS operations across the United States.

In an evaluation to determine how well the prototype system performs, and to address any issues that come up during testing, the FAA has deployed the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) for UAS operators at several air traffic facilities. Currently, two agency-approved companies, AirMap and Skyward, are providing LAANC services.

During the evaluation, it is possible that the FAA may sign agreements with other providers who responded to the original request for information.

The prototype evaluation will last until next Spring, and shortly after that, the FAA plans to launch a national Beta test. The outcome of the prototype evaluation will determine the exact details of the national Beta test. At a later date, the FAA plans to ask for participation from new industry partners.

Under the FAA’s small UAS rules, UAS operators must secure approval from the FAA to operate in any airspace controlled by an air traffic facility. In response to this operational need, LAANC is the first application developed by industry.

Airspace data provided through the UAS facility maps is utilized by the LAANC, as the maps show the maximum altitude around airports where the FAA can authorize operations under Part 107.

Using LAANC, UAS operators can interact with the maps and provide automatic notification and authorization requests to the FAA.

LAANC is not only the first UAS tool that delivers UAS information to air traffic control, but it is also the first step in developing an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System (UTM).