Home Ports of Entry Aerospace Calling All Drones: FAA LAANC Drone Program (Learn More, Multi-Video)

Calling All Drones: FAA LAANC Drone Program (Learn More, Multi-Video)

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress in Sept that terrorist groups are looking to use drones to wage terror attacks in the U.S.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is looking for a few good suppliers – for the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC).

In October 2017, the FAA deployed LAANC (pronounced “LANCE”) at several air traffic facilities to evaluate how well the prototype system functioned for drone operators who want to fly in controlled airspace and for the facilities themselves.

The FAA is now considering agreements with additional entities to provide LAANC services.

FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell
FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell

The period for new entities to apply will run from April 16 to May 16, 2018. Interested parties can find information on the application process here – or  below.

This is not a standard government acquisition; there is no Screening Information Request (SIR) or Request for Proposal (RFP) related to this effort.

“We want to enable technology and remove barriers so that’s why we’re simplifying the authorization process,” said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell.

“If you’re in the drone business, this is a great opportunity for you.”

(FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell tells companies about why they should consider applying to be a UAS Service Supplier. Courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration and YouTube. Posted on Mar 29, 2018)

The agency is also planning a nationwide beta test that will roll out from April to September of this year, which will incrementally activate LAANC at nearly 300 air traffic facilities covering almost 500 airports.

LAANC uses airspace data including UAS facility maps that show the maximum altitude around airports where the FAA may automatically authorize operations under Part 107.

LAANC gives drone operators the ability to interact with industry developed applications and obtain near real-time authorization from the FAA.

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

The FAA expects LAANC will ultimately provide near real-time processing of airspace authorization and notification requests for Part 107 drone operators nationwide.

The system is designed to automatically approve most requests to operate in specific areas of airspace below designated altitudes.

(Learn More. AirMap is an approved UAS Service Supplier (U.S.S.) of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (L.A.A.N.C.). That means that commercial drone operators can request digital airspace authorization in controlled airspace through the very same AirMap mobile app that they use to plan their missions, review airspace advisories, and receive live traffic alerts. Courtesy of AirMap and YouTube. Posted on Nov 6, 2017)

FAA UAS Data Exchange

The FAA UAS Data Exchange is an innovative, collaborative approach between government and private industry facilitating the sharing of airspace data between the two parties.

Under the FAA UAS Data Exchange umbrella, the agency will support multiple partnerships, the first of which is the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability.

What is LAANC?

  • LAANC is the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability.
  • It enables drone pilots access to controlled airspace near airports through near real-time processing of airspace authorizations below approved altitudes in controlled airspace.
  • Drone pilots can use applications developed by approved UAS Service Suppliers to access the LAANC capability.

When is LAANC coming to me?

  • On April 30, 2018, FAA will begin to roll out the capability regionally as part of a National Beta Test.
    • South Central USA — April 30, 2018
    • Western North USA — May 24, 2018
    • Western South USA — June 21, 2018
    • Eastern South USA — July 19, 2018
    • Eastern North USA — August 16, 2018Central North USA — September 13, 2018
  • If you want to fly in controlled airspace near airports not offering LAANC, you can either use the manual process to apply for an authorization, or wait until the LAANC is available.

How does LAANC benefit Industry?

  • The FAA is dedicated to ensuring drones are able to operate safely in the same airspace with manned aircraft.
  • The LAANC capability offers industry the opportunity to work with the agency as we develop a UAS traffic management system.
  • Companies approved to provide LAANC Services are known as Approved UAS Service Suppliers (USS).

How to participate?

  • The FAA plans to host two USS application periods a year, each consisting of four steps. The entire process takes approximately five months to complete.
  • Applicants should have a mature product at the time of application or have the capability to develop it before Formal Onboarding.

Before applying respondents must read and understand the following documents:

Upon successful completion of all onboarding activities, the FAA will sign the MOA and the USS will receive notification that it may begin providing LAANC services.

The next application period starts on April 16, 2018.

Potential UAS Service Suppliers must send in an application via email between the dates of April 16 – May 16, 2018.

LAANC 5 Month Onboarding Process

LAANC 5 Month Onboarding Process

April 16, 2018 – May 16, 2018 Application Period

USS onboarding application submission must include:

  • Completed USS Application package
  • Signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)

May 17, 2018 – June 18, 2018 FAA Submission Review

  • FAA has 30 days to respond whether the applicant meets requirements to continue in the process.
  • During review, the FAA may ask applicants for additional information based on submitted materials

June 19, 2018 – July 19, 2018 Technical Interviews

  • FAA invites applicants that pass the review to demo & discuss their product.
  • If product meets the USS operating rules proceed to the formal onboarding phase

July 20, 2018 – September 18, 2018 Formal Onboarding

  • Applicants proceed to system integration with the LAANC Automation Platform in a staging environment
  • Applicants must demonstrate successful execution of validation scenarios to show compliance with the LAANC USSOperating rules
  • Applicants have two attempts to pass the compliance demonstrations/tests
  • MOA countersigned by FAA upon successful completion of all onboarding activities

The LAANC capability is in a test phase, prospective applicants should expect changes to the application process, and requirements.

Sign up for LAANC related updates.

Interested parties should note:

  • Any information pertaining to the application period is hosted on this website, and through the FAA‘s digital channels.
  • This is not a regular government acquisition; there is no Screening Information Request (SIR) or Request for Proposals (RFP) related to this effort.
  • The FAA is not seeking or accepting unsolicited proposals outside of this application process.
  • The FAA will not pay for any information received or costs incurred at any point in the onboarding process
  • Vendor participation in any informational session during the application process is not a promise for future collaboration with the FAA
  • Application requirements are available in the USS onboarding document (PDF).

How does LAANC benefit me – The drone pilot?

  • Under the small UAS rule, pilots or operators planning to fly in controlled airspace under 400 ft. must receive an airspace authorization from the FAA.
    • Until recently, this involved a 19-step manual application process.
  • Through an approved UAS Service Supplier, pilots and drone companies can receive near real-time airspace authorizations.
    • This dramatically decreases the wait time experienced with the manual authorization process and allows operators to quickly plan their operation.
    • In the near future, pilots will also be able to provide automatic notification of intended flights to nearby airports.

How does LAANC safely integrate drones into the airspace?

  • Approved airspace authorization data allows Air Traffic Controllers to see where planned drone operations will take place.
    • This allows them to mitigate risk by ensuring no other aircraft are operating near the drone.
    • In the event of emergency or unplanned temporary flight restrictions, air traffic control can reach the pilot and ground the drone.

How does LAANC work?

  • LAANC enables access to controlled airspace near airports through airspace data provided by the FAA UAS Facility Maps.
    • UAS Facility Maps show the maximum altitudes around airports where the Approved UAS Service Providers may offer near-real time airspace authorizations.
    • The maps underpin industry developed LAANC applications.
  • Additionally the LAANC applications utilize data streams containing other airspace information such as temporary flight restrictions, airspace data, and NOTAMs.
  • This information, along with the UAS facility maps allow the UAS Service Suppliers to visualize a complex airspace and ensure that each authorization granted adheres to strict safety regulation.

It is a 5 step data sharing process between the FAA UAS Data Exchange, UAS Service Suppliers and the operator.

  1. FAA provides airspace data to UAS Service Suppliers through FAA UAS Data Exchange
  2. Using the data, UAS Service Suppliers create interactive maps of controlled airspace under 400 feet.
  3. Drone pilots request digital airspace authorizations through the UAS Service Supplier application
  4. UAS Service Suppliers send approved authorization information back to the FAA through the FAA UAS Data Exchange.
  5. Air Traffic Control Facilities use approved authorization data provided by the UAS Service Suppliers to view where and when a scheduled UAS operation will take place up to approved altitudes within controlled airspace. Based on this data Air Traffic Control Facilities can approve or deny operations.

The FAA will announce a National Beta test of the capability at this year’s FAA UAS Symposium.

(Learn More about the FAA UAS Symposium. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao welcomed attendees to the 2017 UAS Symposium and recaps the importance of working together during these meetings. Courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration and YouTube. Posted on May 9, 2017)

There will be two ways to apply for an airspace authorization.

Neither process requires the operator to contact an Air Traffic Control Tower:

  • using the current process; or
  • applying through a FAA approved UAS Service Supplier.

Approved LAANC UAS Service Suppliers

The following companies have completed the technical steps required and have entered into agreement with the FAA to provide LAANC Services:


This list will be updated as additional prototype evaluation partners are approved.

Note: Reference in this site to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the Federal Aviation Administration.