“[T]he FAA is seeking to implement the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system. Using the LAANC system, the FAA will be able to grant near-real-time authorizations for the vast majority of operations. Implementation of the LAANC system is vital to the safety of the National Airspace System because it would (1) encourage compliance with 14 CFR 107.41 by speeding up the time to process authorization requests (2) reduce distraction of controllers working in the Tower, and (3) increase public access and capacity of the system to grant authorizations. LAANC is expected to dramatically reduce the incidence of noncompliant operations.” From the FAA’s notice in the Federal Register.
Drone pilots with access to controlled airspace at or below 400 feet.
Air Traffic Professionals with visibility into where and when drones are operating.
Through the UAS Data Exchange, the capability facilitates the sharing of airspace data between the FAA and companies approved by the FAA to provide LAANC services. The companies are known as UAS Service Suppliers – and the desktop applications and mobile apps to utilize the LAANC capability are provided by the UAS Service Suppliers (USS).”
Who Benefits from LAANC?
Recreational flyers and non-recreational flyers can greatly benefit from LAANC if they need to fly near B, C, D, or E at the surface associated with an airport airspace. You can basically get real time authorization for these areas.
Recreational flyers who want to fly under the protections of Section 44809 are required to obtain”prior authorization from the Administrator or designee before operating and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions.”
Non-recreational flyers who want an authorization to fly in Class B, C, D, or E at the surface airspace can do so by using the LAANC system. 107.41 requires you to have an authorization. Many have said that a simple phone call is legally good enough. Here is my response to that statement. Regardless of whether it is legal or not, how in the world are you going to prove you have an authorization, assuming you have a verbal one, if the FAA starts asking you if you have one? The FAA order out of D.C. told air traffic controllers to direct people to obtain an authorization from Drone Zone and NOT verbally authorize flights. Do you really think the controller who talked to you on the phone is going to have an accurate memory when asked if he authorized you contrary to the order? Furthermore, not all of the phone numbers are recorded which means FOIA does not do anyone any good. (On top of that, the phone line recordings aren’t kept for a long time and there is a good chance you will get investigated AFTER the phone recordings are destroyed). If you record your conversation on a phone, you might be getting into trouble with state wiretapping laws (see two-party wiretapping laws). In short, if you don’t want to go the authorization portal method, this is a nice alternative.
Plus, having some proof of authorization is nice to get people off your back like law enforcement, some crazy neighbor, a by-the-book client, etc.
So What Cannot be Submitted via LAANC?
Complex operations cannot go through LAANC. Complex operations would be operations near the airport (in the red no-fly zone on the airport facility maps) or where a waiver is involved (e.g. flying in controlled airspace under your night waiver). If you need help obtaining these more complex airspace authorizations or waivers, contact me. :)
In the same Federal Register notice, the FAA said, “These changes include new branding of the Web site portal DroneZone and improvements to the external customer experience. It’s expected that operations that are relatively simple will go through LAANC’s automated approval process while more complex operations that require a more thorough review by FAA subject matter experts (SME) will go through the FAA’s DroneZone electronic portal.”
Am I Forced to File Via LAANC for Non-Complex Operations?
What Companies Are UAS Service Suppliers for LAANC?
A current list of companies that provide access to LAANC is located here.
How Many Airports Will Participate in LAANC?
If you head to the FAA UAS Data Map, airports that participate in LAANC are shown in green.
Problems I See With This Whole Situation:
LAANC does NOT tell us if it fixed the problem it is attempting to alleviate. Is the drone sighting report the FAA released going to identify and take out of the total number the authorized flights? The FAA’s Federal Register post says LAANC is attempting to make things safer while citing the inflated drone sighting numbers. That’s funny. The FAA left in a ton of crummy data in their drone sightings reports so the numbers are inflated and there is no easy way to “clean” the sightings of the 14,334 COAs already issued. The FAA gave us some big numbers without indicating how many of these “sighting” were lawful or not. What is the logical conclusion? The FAA just cited bad data as the justification for the LAANC system. There have been COAs granted to commercial flyers for over a year and I couldn’t find any indications the FAA “cleaned” the sightings.
At the 2019 FAA Symposium, a powerpoint slide said that there have been over 37,000 manual authorizations granted and 87,000 automated authorizations granted. This means that there over 124,000 authorizations allowing drones to fly near airports
SUBJ: Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability – LAANC NOTICE 1. Purpose of This Notice. This notice updates FAA Order JO 7210.3, Facility Operation and Administration, and provides information and interim guidance on air traffic policies and prescribes procedures for the implementation, coordination, and operation of Low Altitude Authorization Notification Capability (LAANC), the software used to automate requests and FAA authorizations to airspace by sUAS operators. 2. Audience. This notice applies to the following Air Traffic Organization (ATO) Service Units: Mission Support, Systems Operations, Air Traffic Services and all associated air traffic control facilities. 3. Where Can I Find This Notice? This notice is available on the MyFAA employee website at https://employees.faa.gov/tools_resources/orders_notices/ and on the air traffic publications website at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. 4. Cancellation. This notice amends FAA Order JO 7210.3 and will be incorporated into FAA Order JO 7210.3BB, Change 1, effective January 30, 2020. 5. Explanation of Policy Change. This change modifies language in FAA Order JO 7210.3 to reflect the new FAA Reauthorization Act 2018. It introduces new terminology and requirements for the limited recreational operators created by the passage of the new Act. It renumbers Chapter 12, Section 10, to reflected deleted sections. 6. Procedures/Responsibilities/Action. Amend FAA Order JO 7210.3 Chapter 12, National Programs Section 10, Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), to read as follows:
12-10-1. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION a. LAANC is the term for the software used to automate small Unmanned Aircraft System(s) (sUAS) operator requests for access to controlled airspace at or below 400 feet AGL. LAANC handles authorization requests under 14 CFR § 107.41 (Part 107) and 49 U.S.C. § 44809 (Section 44809). LAANC’s major elements include: FAA data sources (e.g. Unmanned Aircraft System Facility Maps (UASFM), airspace restrictions, and airspace boundaries) for use in determining authorizations; and the ability for FAA-approved LAANC UAS Service Suppliers (USSs) to process authorization information and interface with sUAS pilots.
b. LAANC functions at the operational planning stage, identifying intended sUAS operations and managing the associated authorizations. Part 107 and Section 44809 authorization requests within the UASFM can be approved automatically, in near real time. Part 107 authorization requests that fall above the UASFM and below 400 feet AGL require approval by the Air Traffic Manager (ATM) or designee. Part 107 operators may submit a request for access to airspace up to 90 days in advance. Section 44809, sUAS limited recreational operators’, request for access above the UASFM will not be processed in LAANC.
12-10-2. UAS FACILITY MAPS (UASFM)
UASFMs have been developed by FAA facilities to establish the altitude at and below which sUAS may be granted automatic authorization. USSs will use current FAA approved UASFMs in conjunction with other required data sources and will operate within agreed LAANC USS operating rules.
NOTE For UAS facility map design, see FAA Order JO 7200.23.
12-10-3. SMALL UAS (sUAS) ATC AUTHORIZATIONS
Both Part 107 and Section 44809 require all sUAS operators to obtain airspace authorization from Air Traffic to fly in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport. A request for authorization will contain data from a sUAS operator to a USS providing flight information about the area of the proposed operation. If the area of operation falls within a UASFM, LAANC will provide an automatic authorization and deliver this authorization to the ATM or designee. The facility retains the ability to rescind any specific authorization(s) as needed, whether after automatic approval or approval by the ATM or designee through further coordination (see 12-10-4).
12-10-4. FURTHER COORDINATION a. Further coordination is the term used when an authorization processed via LAANC cannot be automatically approved. For example, if a Part 107 authorization request is sent by an operator to a USS, and the planned operation is above a UASFM altitude, the request cannot be automatically approved. Further coordination is available only to Part 107 operators. A safety justification may be optionally submitted by the Part 107 operator for the ATM’s consideration.
NOTE This Safety Justification is a one-way transmittal from the Part 107 operator that is for use with further coordination requests only. The Safety Justification is not pre-coordinated with the ATM or designee, and is optional information that the Part 107 operator may choose to include to assist the ATM or designee in determining whether to approve or deny the further coordination request.
b. Further coordination requests in LAANC are not automatic and require the approval of the ATM or designee. If a response is not provided, further coordination requests will expire 24 hours prior to the proposed operator’s start time. Facilities are not authorized to engage directly with operators to process further coordination requests. NOTE LAANC does not process Certificates of Authorization (COAs). COAs are processed exclusively in DroneZone in collaboration with the governing Regional Service Center. Any attempt by an operator to submit mitigations or COAs through LAANC will not be accepted.
Paragraph 12-10-10, Facility Responsibilities was renumbered to 12-10-5 Facility Responsibilities. No further changes to paragraph.
7. Distribution. This notice is distributed to the following ATO service units: Air Traffic Services, Mission Support Services, and System Operations, and Safety and Technical Training; the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service; the William J. Hughes Technical Center; and the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. 8. Background. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 changed the notification requirement in controlled airspace for “modelers/hobbyist”. The new ruling covered under 49 U.S.C. § 44809 (Section 349) and the “modelers/hobbyist” are now referred to as limited recreational fliers. They must now receive authorization to operate in controlled airspace. Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) has been modified to accommodate automatic authorization of recreational operators, similar to how Part 107 operators receive their authorization. 9. Related Publication. FAA Order JO 7200.23.
Original signed by Natking Estevez Natking Estevez 6/24/19 Director (A), Air Traffic Procedures Air Traffic Organization Date Signed
12−10−5. UAS SERVICE SUPPLIER (USS) LAANC uses industry partner UAS Service Suppliers (USS) to provide services specific to sUAS operations. Such services are provided through an exchange of information between the FAA and the USS, whereby the USS is the primary interface to the operator. The USS accesses UASFMs and USS operating rules provided by the FAA to grant the automatic authorization of sUAS operations that meet the requirement of 14 CFR Part 107 operations and fall within a UASFM altitude.
12−10−6. VOLUNTARY NOTIFICATION
LAANC will inform the sUAS operator when an operation entered into LAANC takes place in areas where ATC authorization/notification is not required (outside controlled airspace/beyond 5 statute miles from an airport). LAANC will provide confirmation to the operator that the flight information has been received and a record will be submitted to the FAA.
12−10−7. REQUIRED NOTIFICATION If ATC notification is required (Part 101E), the operator may submit their proposed flight information to a USS. The USS will check if a notification is required based on whether or not the operation falls within 5 statute miles of an airport. If notification is required, the USS will facilitate the notification via LAANC.
12−10−8. REQUIRED AUTHORIZATION a. If ATC authorization is required (Part 107), the sUAS operator may submit their proposed flight information to a USS. The USS will use the appropriate UASFM to determine if an operation can be automatically authorized. If the flight falls within the UASFM altitude, FAA authorization is provided to the operator. Flight details are provided via the LAANC website to the facility.
b. If the proposed flight operation is above a UASFM altitude, further coordination is required at the facility level. The USS makes LAANC further coordination processes an option available to the operator, with the understanding that further coordination requires the consideration of ATC personnel and a response will not be immediate. Resources permitting, facility personnel may provide authorization or denial electronically back through LAANC, which will be delivered to the operator via the USS.
c. If an operation which requires further coordination has been authorized, the sUAS operator may proceed to operate within the authorized parameters.
12−10−9. FURTHER COORDINATION a. Further coordination is the term used when an authorization processed via LAANC cannot be automatically approved. For example, if a Part 107 authorization request is sent by an operator to a USS, and the planned operation is above a UASFM altitude, the request cannot be automatically approved. Facility personnel must be involved in approving or denying the request. The USS can submit the request for further coordination, in which case LAANC will direct it to the appropriate facility, and when a response is provided, LAANC will send it back to the operator.
b. Further coordination requests require longer periods of processing time (e.g., hours, days) than other LAANC processes, based upon the availability of ATC facilities/ATM personnel to consider an authorization request. If a response is not provided, further coordination requests will expire within 30 days after submission or the proposed operator’s start time, whichever comes first. NOTE− LAANC further coordination is not the same as a waiver defined by Part 107 Subpart D. Waivers are not within the scope of LAANC. Furthermore, Part 107 requires a waiver for operations above 400 feet. Therefore, LAANC can only provide Part 107 authorizations, whether automatically or by further coordination, for operations at or below 400 feet.
12−10−10. FACILITY RESPONSIBILITIES a. The ATM will request access to LAANC by providing their email address and that of any designee to 9−ajt−[email protected] b. Using Chrome web browser, LAANC can be accessed at https://laanc−atc.faa.gov. My Access is used to sign in to LAANC. c. Review the “Facility Preferences” page to ensure the “Approval Facilities” information is correct. d. The ATM or designee will periodically review LAANC to maintain situational awareness of sUAS activity in their airspace. e. The ATM or designee, workload permitting, will review further coordination requests for approval consideration. The only actions available for requests awaiting further coordination are to “APPROVE” or “DENY” the operation. f. When receiving a Part 107 authorization or approving a Part 107 authorization above a UASFM altitude, the ATM or designee will use their best judgement to determine if the information needs to be disseminated to the controller. If it is determined that the controller should know, then it will be distributed to the appropriate position(s). NOTE− LAANC will allow an operator to request an altitude above a UASFM altitude as long as the requested altitude is not above 400 ft agl as per 14 CFR Part 107. g. Any previously issued authorization(s) may be rescinded via LAANC. The operator must acknowledge the action before the previously issued authorization is cancelled. If no acknowledgement is received and/or timeliness is a factor, the operator may be contacted via telephone.
FAA’s Concept of Operations for LAANC from February 2017 for “INFORMATION ONLY PURPOSES”
Keep in mind this was for only informational purposes. Things might have been changed.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for implementing notification and authorization (N&A) processes specific to operation of small unmanned aircraft systems. See Pub. L. 112-95 § 336(a) (5) and 14 CFR § 107.41. From an Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Air Traffic Management (ATM) perspective, notification of unmanned aviation activity enables the Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) to provide safe and efficient flight services to all aircraft in the NAS. From a regulatory and safety perspective, notification of unmanned aviation operations provides a means of traceability to (1) inform other NAS users, if needed, of unmanned aviation activity in the vicinity of the airspace in which they are operating; (2) ensure operators are complying and conforming to regulatory standards; and (3) identify and hold accountable those who are responsible during accident/incident investigations.
The FAA is in the process of determining its approach and business plan to integrate model aircraft, UAS, and sUAS into the NAS. As part of that approach, the FAA is dedicated to ensuring safety requirements are met for integration of unmanned aviation into the NAS, where unmanned aircraft are able to operate safely in the same airspace with manned aircraft. The FAA must ensure that integrated UAS operations meet appropriate performance standards and access requirements. The FAA seeks to reduce barriers to access and equitable access to airspace. The FAA’s challenge is to foster equitable access for all users and providers while ensuring critical ATC technical and safety requirements are met for NAS operations. In addition, the FAA seeks to foster a competitive environment for providers of UAS and related services. As the FAA and industry move toward integration of all types of UAS into the NAS, the FAA promulgated 14 CFR part 107, which governs non-hobbyist operations of small UAS. Part 107 contains a regulation that requires receipt of an authorization from the FAA prior to operating in Class B, C, D, or the surface areas of Class E airspace. In addition, Congress specified “model aircraft” may not endanger of the safety of the NAS, but are otherwise exempt from aviation regulations as long as such aircraft are flown strictly for hobby or recreational use, are operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines, weigh no more than 55 pounds, are operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to manned aircraft, and, when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides notification to the airport operator and the airport ATC tower with prior notice of the operation. Pursuant to this framework, the FAA requires model aircraft operators provide airport operators and the airport air traffic control tower (when the air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation.
1.2 Problem Statement
The FAA has developed a UAS implementation plan that outlines the long term planning for UAS integration. There is a limited strategy for identifying and inserting technological capabilities into existing FAA systems that would enable safe sUAS operations in accordance with established FAA rules as cited above. The current process for meeting authorization and notification requirements of existing rules is manually intensive and therefore costly. In addition, the time to approve authorization in this manual state is inefficient, preventing some time critical commercial and public operations (e.g. news, emergency response).
More automation is needed to support the growing demands for safe and efficient sUAS operations in the NAS. The FAA has limited resources to respond to the need for automation development to support sUAS. At the same time, industry has shown an interest and capability to provide sUAS services as a critical element of future UAS Traffic Management (UTM).
A critical element associated with such automation will be information sharing among the various entities responsible for sUAS operations. However, currently there are no conventions or standards for exchanging information between FAA and external entities about sUAS operations. Given the many FAA systems that comprise the NAS and associated support capabilities, conventions for the secure, safe, and orderly exchange of sUAS-related information are needed to enable sUAS operations to scale safely and quickly enough to meet the anticipated rapid growth in demand expected.
1.3 Purpose and Scope
The development of a fully functioning and streamlined, user friendly N&A capability is complex and subject to a variety of inputs and coordination points across the UAS community. This document will give stakeholders and leadership the necessary contextual information to understand and provide input on the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) development, demonstrations, and fielding.
The LAANC demonstration effort is constrained by the following resources and regulations:
– Policy: This project will leverage sending information to 3rd party systems, allowing them to provide authorizations, and submit operational information back to the FAA. This poses a number of policy and legal issues that will need to be addressed along the way. – Financial: The FAA will not be providing capital resources for the purchase or acquisition of software programs or systems, or in conducting demonstrations of proposed solutions. Existing systems in use at this time are expected to be adapted to work according to requirements identified in the N&A effort outlined herein.
2 Current Operations & Shortfalls
Currently there is no means of automated authorization or notification between UAS operators and ATC. This is because the FAA’s and ANSP’s notification information needs with respect to UAS operations depend on a number of factors, including the type of UAS operation being conducted, where it is conducted, what services (if any) are required, what the UAS capabilities are, and more. Identifying and implementing notification requirements appropriate to specific UAS operations would allow the FAA, safety organizations, and regulators to process and access flight data in accordance with their organizational needs and responsibilities.
Specific information requirements about a UAS operation may vary commensurate with the risk of the operation. For example, ATC and/or the FAA may require more information about the proposed UAS activity and more explicit procedures and automated support for the delivery and handling of that information as the risk of the operation increases. The basic information needs, though, should generally be consistent across operations.
Non-hobbyist operators of sUAS must comply with 14 CFR part 107 (“Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems”). The following general criteria illustrates the use cases1 for identifying whether a given low altitude operation requires notification only or request for ATC authorization. a. To be considered a model aircraft operator, the operator must notify an Airport under Public Law 112-95 § 336(a)(5):
When the UAS is flown within five miles of an airport: the operator of the model aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation. Model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within five miles of an airport: the operator can establish a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport).
b. For all sUAS operations under 14 CFR Part 107:
No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC). Please refer to Appendix A to Attachment 1 for a description of airspace types.
Note: There is no requirement for authorization in Class G airspace, however notification is required within five miles of an airport regardless of the airspace class in which the airport resides.
2.1 Operational Shortfalls
The new FAA UAS rules introduced in 2016 address the requirements for operators of sUAS. Recently, the FAA developed an initial set of requirements for both notification and authorization, based on the premise that authorization be automated to the greatest extent practicable. Those operational requirements were delivered under separate cover and provided as information to stakeholders. The current operational shortfalls are 1 Specific scenarios for the above use cases can be found in Attachment 1 to this CONOPs. The scenarios identified to date are not exhaustive, but instead are the first scenarios prioritized to be addressed with the LAANC system. The FAA will continue to work with industry to identify additional scenarios and use cases that will be addressed by LAANC as part of ongoing collaboration with industry. inefficient processes for obtaining authorization or notifying ATC of operations, the timeline required to obtain authorizations from FAA, and the growing backlog associated with current processes.
The FAA has established a process for commercial sUAS operators, operating under 14 CFR Part 107 to request a waiver of operation or authorization. A manual form has been created that allows operators to enter data into the FAA’s system. The data is forwarded to a review directorate in FAA. The FAA quotes, “The FAA will strive to complete review and adjudication of waivers and airspace authorizations within 90 days; however, the time required for the FAA to make a determination regarding waiver/airspace authorization requests will vary based on the complexity of the request.” Because the FAA’s current process depends on a manual review of every request, the time to complete the request is lengthy and costly. Because the review is manual, there is already a backlog in completing the review of requested waivers and authorizations. Since late 2015, the FAA has registered more than 500,000 hobbyist sUAS operators, with that number expected to grow significantly. The number of sUAS flights is expected to increase dramatically as the new rules expand to enable new types of operations and are further clarified regarding where and how sUAS flights can be conducted. Operators will be seeking ways to fly safely while complying with the governing rules. Processes and electronic systems supporting these rules and associated sUAS operations are needed now.
2.2 Technology Gap
Technologically, UAS operators and the FAA need a streamlined, efficient, solution to enable notification and authorization. At this time, the primary ways in which UAS operators and ATC communicate for the purpose of notification and authorization is through submission of a web form on the FAA website, which then uses other forms of communication to process the data. The FAA is seeking to close the gap of manual versus automated data transfer and authorizations by defining and establishing a technological solution that will allow for data exchange between operators and ATC. A demonstration of an initial solution is envisioned as the first step in closing this technology gap.
3 Guiding Principles
Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) is the broad term for an enterprise capability to automate to the maximum extent possible the ability for FAA to grant authorization to CFR Part 107 operators under 14 CFR 107.41 and to allow for model aircraft operators to notify ATC of planned operations within 5 miles of an airport as described at Pub. L. 112-95 § 336. LAANC major elements include the FAAs provision of authenticated map data for use in determining authorization, the use of third part providers (TPP) to provide services to operators, and the ability for multiple TPP to provide services. Generally, LAANC should encourage participation of operators in creating an environment of inclusiveness and ease of use.
Notifications resulting from model aircraft operators under Pub. L. 112-95 § 336 are the result of data sent from UAS operators to ATC to provide situational awareness about operation events planned in a particular airspace. Notifications are those transactions sent one way from UAS operator to ATC.
3.3 Request for Authorization
A request for authorization will contain data from a small UAS operator to a third party provider (TPP) providing key parameters about an operation. The FAA may approve or deny such requests in accordance with 14 CFR 107.41.
Authorizations are the result of data sent from the TPP and by extension ATC, to an operator regarding a specific request received asking permission to operate in a particular airspace, operating under CFR Part 107 rules.
3.5 Remote Pilot Operator & UAS Operations in Airspace
The term “PIC” is specific to the person who is ultimately responsible for the operation and safety during flight. The term “FAA” refers to the agency, or an unspecified entity within the agency, as well as the ANSP. The term “ANSP” is a specific individual who manages flight traffic on behalf of the FAA.
3.6 Use cases and scenarios
Scenarios for the existing use cases identified to date do not represent an exhaustive list of notification and authorization challenges that will be addressed by implementation of LAANC system or initial demonstrations. The urgent need for an initial LAANC solution to enable time sensitive operations and expedite the authorization process has required prioritization of scenarios that will guide stakeholders in development of an initial demonstration event. The FAA will focus efforts to establish requirements for the LAANC system using the scenarios referenced in Attachment 1. Through workshops and continued collaboration with industry, the FAA will solicit and develop additional use case scenarios to be prioritized as the LAANC demonstration and implementation effort progresses.
3.7 Collaboration between Industry and FAA
It is expected that the FAA will work with industry partners to establish the LAANC, and conduct a successful proposed solution demonstration, with an understanding that no decisions have been reached on the implementation of LAANC services.
3.8 Collaboration within Industry (Industry to Industry cooperation)
It is expected that industry stakeholders will collaborate with each other as well as the FAA, through and within workshops, demonstration(s), data exchange partnerships, and in the overall development of the LAANC nationwide solution.
Following are assumptions associated with LAANC. The assumptions include key integration assumptions as well as those specifically applicable to the sUAS operations described in this document:
1) Information on airspace class designations and airport locations will not be provided via Application Programming Interface (APIs) associated with N&A functions or web services. Due to the static nature of such data and public availability, Third Party Providers (TPPs) are expected to obtain this information outside of the N&A processes.
2) N&A APIs will be limited to the smallest function practicable (e.g., via “micro web services”) to ensure scalability and flexibility. (I.e. one API per functional requirement instead of one API that spans multiple functional requirements).
3) N&A APIs will be versioned to accommodate additional phased capability as that capability is introduced.
4) Future LAANC capability will be provided through the FAA’s system wide information management (SWIM). Interfaces to SWIM and exchange methods will be established for operational connection in future efforts.
5) Operator’s registration numbers may be used as unique identifiers if required to amend submitted approvals. For sUAS operators under 14 CFR part 107, unique certification numbers will be used.
6) Responsibilities and requirements that are deemed to fall outside FAA’s scope (operator side) are the responsibility of the operator and TPP. The FAA will not assign responsibility to one or the other. In order to avoid undue dependency on TPPs, these responsibilities are expected to be established by mutual agreement between the parties.
[Note: The Law changed so I’m marking this out to avoid confusion for readers.]
7) All Hobbyist operators must comply with Part 101.41: (e) When flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation. This differs from Part 107 (see item 6) in that the Part 101 requirement is based on a prescribed distance from an airport rather than a particular airspace designation.
8) 14 CFR Part 107 operators must comply with Part § 107.41: Operation in certain airspace. No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC).
9) LAANC will service the well informed/well intended operator and will actively encourage participation in the FAA’s goal of ensuring safe NAS operations for all aircraft types.
5 Implementation Alternative
A set of operational requirements for notification and authorization was delivered in 2Q FY16. The FAA investigated several alternatives to achieving the requirements and in 4Q FY16 issued a request for information (RFI) to industry to gain an understanding of the state of industry with regard to this capability. Based on the results of that RFI, the FAA is currently pursuing an alternative where the FAA provides for data exchange with TPPs. In this alternative the FAA provides authenticated map data and TPPs provide resulting authorization and notification data to the FAA via an API. All vendors provide format of data in accordance with FAA needs. Any business model for fee collection from operators is developed by individual TPPs. The FAA will retain a separate web interface for authorization requests and notifications.
6 Description of Key Services
Automated notification is essential to facilitate sUAS operator submission of all required flight information, retrieval of that information by ATC facilities and/or FAA, and provision of feedback from ATC to the UAS operator if necessary. Operators submit their notifications through a TPP interface or through the FAA’s web portal for notification/authorization. Based on the Operator’s planned operating type, the operating area, and altitude indicated by the UAS operator, the TPP indicates to the operator whether ATC authorization is required (i.e., the operation, or portions of the operation, will be in controlled airspace), whether they may operate without authorization (i.e., the entire operation will be in uncontrolled airspace), or whether they will be operating within 5 miles of an airport.
If ATC authorization is not required, and the operation is one in which the operator would provide notification to an airport operator and airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport), the TPP forwards the notification to the FAA, where the information is available for distribution to other appropriate airspace users, and is stored for traceability and data analysis purposes. If ATC authorization is required, the TPP uses FAA authoritative facility map information (UAS Facility Map; UASFM) and approved FAA business rules to automatically determine whether a flight can be authorized and forwards the authorization information to the FAA through an API. Automatic authorizations are provided to the operator. The FAA internally makes that information available to ATC at the affected airport(s). If such automatic authorization is not possible, the operation will be denied the opportunity for reconsideration. If a reconsideration is requested (e.g., a different altitude or time), the request is forwarded to the appropriate ATC authorities that provide feedback electronically via the TPP to the UAS operator. If the operation has been authorized, either by the TPP using authoritative maps or by appropriate ATC entity, the UAS operator may operate within the parameters authorized by the action. If the operation has been denied, the UAS operator may review the reasons for denial and modify the proposed authorization request accordingly (e.g., choose a different start time, different operating area), and resubmit the request for authorization.
Lead times for submitting a notification depend on whether ATC authorization is required. For instance, if only notification is required, the UAS operator may submit the notification shortly before commencing the operation. ATC may impose time restrictions on the pre-notification process to ensure no hazards exist in the timeframe in which the operation occurs. However, if ATC authorization is required for the operation, the UAS operator is required to submit the request for authorization in accordance with the directions ATC provides for the specific airspace. The minimum lead times for submittal, as well as lead times for providing ATC feedback will be determined and specified by the FAA.
The FAA anticipates the current process of manual direct coordination with FAA, which could take 90 days to complete. That process is envisioned to remain in place as LAANC is introduced and after LAANC is fully operational, and future demand on the manual process is likely to decrease as a result.
6.1 Distribution of Notification Info to Other Airspace Users
As previously mentioned, all unmanned aviation flight information—regardless of whether flights require ATC authorization—are submitted to the FAA via an interface with the TPP.
Information dissemination could be facilitated by the same notification mechanism used for ATC submission, or by other means. Regardless of how this is done, all NAS airspace users must have access to information about planned and active UAS operating areas relevant to them. Disseminating UAS activity to other airspace users ensures safety of flight as UAS present additional safety concerns due to the ranges of UAS physical, flight performance, and operational characteristics that vary significantly from manned aircraft. This information could be disseminated via TPPs, where those TPPs share information with each other, or could be done through FAA central distribution of collected information. In either case, the data would be sanitized to remove proprietary, personal, or secure information. Sanitized information would provide sufficient data to act and avoid by other sUAS or manned aircraft in the area.
Users of the NAS vary considerably. In this context, NAS users include sUAS operators, model aircraft operators, as well as general aviation (GA) airspace users and commercial carriers. NAS users are required to review published notification information for relevant UAS activity along their intended routes of flight. For this information to be accurate and timely, UAS operators are responsible for adhering to regulations and following proper N&A procedures. This includes ensuring that information accurately reflects their proposed operation, and that operations do not occur outside of the parameters of their notification.
Follow-on development work associated with the notification concept would include a more accurate determination of the circumstances in which dissemination of information to other airspace users about UAS operating areas is required. The FAA is responsible for determining the process and mechanisms for routing, storing, and managing notification information, and for distributing the most current information to other airspace users.
6.2 Use of Third Party Providers
The FAA is pursuing the provision of LAANC services using private TPPs to provide services specific to sUAS operations. Such services would be accomplished through an exchange of information between the FAA and the third party, whereby the third party would be the primary interface to the operator. The third party would use authoritative map information and business rules provided by the FAA to authorize sUAS operations in an area, at a particular time, under a set of conditions. The following paragraphs outline the operational requirements of the overall system.
The operational requirements call for an automated ATC N&A system or service that would eliminate the need for operators to call ATC directly or make requests via the FAA’s webpage, and would limit overall operator interaction with ATC. This requires the system/service to incorporate the following information:
Real-time information on airspace status (e.g., Controlled Airspace, Special Activity Airspace) Available projected information on airspace status (e.g., Controlled Airspace, Special Activity Airspace) UAS Facility Maps (UASFM) that indicate “pre-approved fly zones” and “areas that require further ATC coordination”
– For each airport, ATC (in collaboration with the airport operator) would develop UASFM. – Within each grid on the map, ATC would identify maximum altitudes at which flight is permitted without further coordination. – Airspace at or below the maximum altitudes would be “pre-approved fly zones” and airspace above the maximum altitudes would be “that require further ATC coordination.”
Other “areas that require further ATC coordination” designated outside of airportspecific maps (e.g., areas in which sUAS operations are prohibited under 14 CFR 99.7 and/or Pub. L. 114-190 § 2209)
The operator may use the TPP’s system to determine the viability of his/her proposed flight operation as a planning function. Based on the operator’s input for proposed operating area, altitude, date, start time, and duration, the “Planner Tool” would determine whether each proposed flight operation would be within one or more of the following:
(a) Five miles of an airport, or within Class B, C, D, or Class E surface area; (b) Any airport-specific “areas that require further ATC coordination”; (c) Special Activity Airspace where operations are prohibited; and (d) A “no-fly zone” (outside of airport-specific maps).
If a proposed model aircraft flight operation is outside five miles of an airport, then ATC notification is not required. Similarly, if a proposed sUAS flight operation will occur only in Class G airspace, then 14 CFR part 107 does not require ATC authorization. If ATC notification and/or authorization is not required, the operator (or designee) may nonetheless voluntarily submit their proposed flight information through the TPP interface. If no airspace restrictions exist, the system will provide confirmation to the operator that the flight information has been received.
If the operation requires ATC notification or authorization, the operator (or designee) must submit their proposed flight information via the system’s Flight Information Submittal Tool. If the operation is within an airport-specific “area that requires further ATC coordination” and outside of Special Activity Airspace where operations are prohibited (in the vicinity of the airport), the system will automatically deliver acknowledgement or authorization regarding the operation. Conversely, if the operator (or designee) submits their proposed flight information, and the operation is within an airport-specific “area that requires further coordination” or within Special Activity Airspace where operations are prohibited (in the vicinity of the airport), the system will automatically deliver a message denying the operation. Small UAS operators who operate in accordance with part 107 will have the opportunity to further discuss their request to operate in controlled airspace with ATC.
7 Overarching Roles & Architecture
There are five major roles defined for the concept; Operator, Third Party Provider, FAA Processor, FAA ATC, and FAA Map Provider. The high level interaction among the roles is described in section 7.6.
7.1 UAS Operator
Operators are people or organizations that are external to the FAA and that must follow the rules outlined in 14 CFR part 107, Pub. L. 114-190 § 336, or a certificate of authorization the FAA has issued to them under Pub. L. 114-190 § 333. . Operators will submit required UAS operations information to a third party either via an operator interface or possibly in bulk (for multiple planned Part 107 flights). Information requirements are being developed at this time.
Type of Request
Third Party Response
Operators providing notification pursuant to Pub. L. 112-95 Section 336
Part 107 sUAS Operator
Auto Authorization “Fly without Further Coordination”
Acknowledge and provide authorization message
Part 107 sUAS Operator
None: state “Further Coordination Required”
Part 107 sUAS Operator
None; Clarify the request involves “Special Activity Airspace”
Part 107 sUAS Operator
Manual Authorization “No-Fly Zone” Discussion
Acknowledged and Sent to FAA
Secondary Contact (Direct Contact with Operator)
to Pub. L. 112-96
Provide statement to
operator that the
interfere with other
operations in the
NAS and/or at an
7.2 Third Party Provider
Third Party providers (TPPs) will provide Notification and Authorization communication services on behalf of the FAA. TPPs are expected to be private entities, such as corporations. They provide the primary interface to the operator via system application software that is likely to include mobile applications. Each TPP will use only FAA sources such as authorized UASFM, Special Use Airspace (SUA), TFRs, NOTAMs, data to automatically provide, where feasible, confirmations of notification and authorizations to UAS operators. Each TPP will obtain Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) map data (www.uas.faa.opendata.arcgis.com) from a designated repository, managed by the FAA aeronautical information service organization (AJV-5) , and will maintain current map data in accordance with FAA-provided notification of new map data availability. The TPP will manage communications and messaging with the operator and with the FAA. As an example, the TPP will provide standard messages to the operator based on the determination made (e.g. “operation is authorized”). The TPPs will manage and store all the records of authorization and notification requests in protected areas based on SORN (Systems of Records Notices) requirements. The TPP will send authorization and notification records (and or mapped data) to the FAA for display to ATC. Finally, the TPP will manage Part 107 operator secondary requests for authorization once automatic denial has been provided.
The level of governance for TPPs has not been determined. All interfaces to the FAA where a TPP is exchanging information with the FAA will be tested, proven, controlled and securely managed. There is currently no plan by the FAA to “authorize” or certify a provider. However, a mechanism might be developed whereby the services provided by a TPP will be monitored for performance and to collect metrics (e.g. numbers and types of authorizations processed and associated error rates).
7.3 Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP)/FAA Processor
In the operating concept, the FAA will provide a standard gateway for processing messages between third party providers and FAA end users (e.g. ATC or Service Centers). The FAA will also provide processing services to display information to meet the FAA users’ needs. The gateway serves as a routing function for display and storage.
7.4 FAA ATC
In the operating concept, air traffic control personnel at a facility (or at a centralized location) will have an ability to see authorizations, notifications, and waivers as processed by a third party provider and sent to ATC.2 TPP will not be able to process waivers, but will have an ability to allow the operator to enter the waiver information for FAA review. Processing of authorizations may be accomplished at a centralized location or at individual facilities. If processing of authorizations occurs at a centralized location (e.g., FAA regional service centers), ATC personnel at affected facilities will have situational awareness of the authorizations and notifications and will be provided with an ability to override requested operational actions. ATC personnel will have the ability to review all actions (Authorizations, Notifications, Waivers) affecting their respective airspace and will have the ability to reject, accept, acknowledge, or perform additional review. The method(s) of providing authorization, notification, and waiver information to ATC personnel has not been determined. Early implementation may be accomplished by email, or internet access if internet access is available. Operational procedures detailing the interaction of ATC with the authorization and notification system have not been determined.
7.5 FAA Map Provider and Special Instructions
In the operating concept, the FAA will provide the UASFM data to be used in determining authorization and notification. Map data will be made available through automation. The FAA mapping organization will provide map data on a periodic basis, initially on a 56 day update cycle, using ESRI standard formats and functionality, with a long term goal of providing real-time updates. The mapping organization will also collect available information on other airspace limitations imposed by existing NOTAMS, TFRs or regulation.