EXPERTS COMMUNITY

How technology makes airspace more available

LAANC will be a quick and understandable way to request the flight permission in controlled airspace.
AUGUST, 30 / 2019 / 5 MINUTES
Aviation terminology uses many abbreviations, and there is probably no better example than LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability). LAANC system was developed over the past year * by joint efforts of the state and private companies in order to open national airspace (of USA) for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).
When authorizing manually, it used to take about 90 days to get permission to fly in controlled airspace. Now with the new API it takes few seconds. This is a very important step in the airspace and automation process development, which can be accomplished without sacrificing the manned and unmanned flights safety. LAANC will be a quick and understandable way to request controlled airspace flight permission for commercial UAS operators.
The FAA actually replaced the «black box» method, which took months, with the one that is no less accurate, but works instantly. The airspace will now look very different for commercial pilots — instead of huge lanes of non-flying zones, they will have quick access to the existing airspace.
From the very beginning, the project creators actively supported the promotion of the entire industry, emphasizing the intention to make LAANC available on the open market. This day is not far off — the FAA will begin the deployment of LAANC from April 30 in the South Central region and is expected to complete the process in the Central North region in September. Potential customers suggest that, as a result, LAANC will help them to double the number of commercial flights. If we proceed from the figures below, it is clear that even such optimistic forecasts significantly underestimate the true potential of the system.
The fact is that LAANC will not only affect the speed of access to airspace for UAV. Thanks to this system, large heavily loaded areas will be available in the national airspace.
The fact that waiting for authorization will take seconds instead of months after the introduction of LAANC in the main regions will bring significant changes to the commercial UAV industry. However, as soon as the experts began to analyze the figures, it became clear that the system will have the greatest impact not on speed, but on the coverage area, and this is even more amazing.
The latest data from the UAS Facility Map (UASFM) suggests that with the new feature that was recently integrated into the applications, only 16.95% of the airspace cannot be instantly accessible using LAANC. The remaining 83.05% is "potentially available." The wide five-mile restricted areas are reduced to less than 1 mile per airport.
By extrapolating this to ~ 500 airports with LAANC across the country, we get more than 2000 square miles of new airspace available to UAV. Assuming that FAA Part 107 pilots meet other LAANC requirements for immediate authorization, the vast majority of controlled airspace instantly becomes open ... The question is — at what altitude? Of course, it is not more than 100 feet or thereabout, is it?
More than half of the UASFM areas have a maximum ceiling of 400 feet. This is understandable only intuitively, however, it is confirmed by the data that airport operators provided to the FAA when creating maps. That is why many experts are in favor of more detailed airspace organization rules.
The combination of these two indicators means that part of the most valuable airspace for sUAS operations is significantly expanding - in terms of both area and height.
The conclusion is: yes, all of the above is a very significant reason to be delighted with LAANC.
Some clarification on the LAANC
LAANC allows us to automate the flight permission and authorization process. Using special handling forms developed by the FAA Approved UAS Service Suppliers (USS), the pilots can independently obtain the flight permission.
Requests are checked at once from several sources in the UAS FAA data exchange system, for example, such as temporary flight restrictions, NOTAM and UAS Facility Maps. If approved, the pilots get the near real-time authorization.
* at the time of publication, April 14, 2018.
According to the article: Breaking down the potential of LAANC / Unmanned Airspace / www.unmannedairspace.info
LAANC description on the FAA website: faa.gov/uas/programs_partnerships/data_exchange/
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