In huge milestone for drone pilots, DJI has been approved by FAA to authorize customer flights near airports and more


posted Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 4:43 PM EST


In a move that will benefit just about everyone involved with the process, DJI has been approved by the FAA as a UAS Service Supplier and will be able to offer Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) within their applications to create a line of communication between professional drone pilots and the FAA. Designed to be used as an approval service for flying drones in what are normally restricted airspaces, LAANC speeds up the current cumbersome, manual process from months to near-instant. 

To fully understand this system, it's important to get a grasp on the full story and understand how the FAA arrived at the process. After a series of unsuccessful steps taken by the FAA to try and regulate drone flights in an effort to keep everyone safe, they eventually landed on a system that would be a collaboration between the FAA and corporations.

This collaboration, called LAANC (and pronounced like "lance") would work much faster than the current approval process, which can take months. LAANC would be a bridge of data connecting a drone pilot to the FAA directly, and flight paths in normally restricted areas like airports can be approved and monitored by the FAA through a company like DJI's applications. Moreover, LAANC designates locations within that airspace that can be used safely up to approved altitudes.

It also monitors temporary flight restrictions and other limits that could affect flights there. Pilots can use LAANC to review those limits, plan flights and file applications. LAANC processes those applications instantly as well as provides information about those flights to FAA Air Traffic. As a result, situational awareness is improved and aviation safety is enhanced.

There is a super helpful and explanatory video you can watch about LAANC and how it works here. 

"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. This includes many populated areas that can benefit tremendously from drone operations,” said Brandon Montellato, DJI program manager, Enterprise Solutions. “More than 100,000 Part 107-certified drone pilots will now be able to perform valuable work—from inspections and surveys to filming and photography. And with near-instant approval."

Getting DJI as a LAANC partner via their UAS Service Supplier approval is hugely beneficial for all involved. It helps the FAA keep track of professional commercial pilots who want to fly in restricted areas, it adds a huge market share of drones to the FAA's connected web of service, and it makes the whole process safer by making the approval process less painful. Well, almost pain free. Based on their descriptions, the near-instant approval process is so easy that there isn't really any reason not to do it. It may have been illegal to fly in certain airspace before, but pilots may have risked it anyway due to the confusing and cumbersome process that was formerly in place. 

For more information, head over to the FAA's page on LAANC and also read the press release about DJI's approval as a UAS Service Supplier.