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A new FAA ruling just made it possible for drone pilots to fly near airports again

You will still need to be a professional drone pilot to reap the benefits.

a drone flying around an airport faa
Image: The National

Nine companies now have permission to fly drones in controlled airspaces, such as airports, as part of the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) initiative. The list includes some familiar names, including Airbus and DJI.

As part of the initiative, companies aren’t given 24/7 permission to fly drones over airports. Instead, it lets professional drone pilots seek authorization to do so in near real-time. Beforehand, a pilot had to wait months for approval.

Drone operators are likely to seek permission to enter controlled airspace when conducting inspections or moving livestock away from airports.

What drones are approved?

The nine LAANC partners are Aeronyde, Airbus, AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Converge, DJI, KittyHawk, UASidekick, and Unifly. They join five other companies that were previously approved, including AirMap, Harris Corp., Project Wing, Skyward, and Thales Group.

To Engadget, DJI Program Manager Brandon Montellato explains:

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 prioritized.

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.

According to the FAA, the LAANC program gives drone operators the ability to interact with industry developed applications and obtain near real-time authorization from the FAA. LAANC, a foundation for developing the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System (UTM), is now available at nearly 300 FAA air traffic facilities across the country, covering around 500 airports.

Increasingly, it seems drones are being welcomed everywhere, no? Let’s hope none of these drones cause any problems at our nation’s busiest airports.

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