Despite the current COVID crisis, there has been a lot of good news from the drone industry lately – and one is that LAANC use is accelerating. This piece of positive data comes from drone operations platform Kittyhawk, developers of the FAA’s first mobile app, B4UFly. In a blog post, Kittyhawk CEO and Co-founder Jon Hegranes says that activity has hit record levels: indicating that more pilots are concerned with safe and legal flight.
“Without question, recreational and commercial drone operators are more educated and situationally aware of their airspace than ever before and they are taking advantage of capabilities like LAANC to fly safely and compliantly,” writes Hegranes.
LAANC stands for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability. It’s a great example of the FAA working with the drone industry to develop a product that works for most stakeholders: LAANC took a time-consuming paper process and developed an alternative that allowed drone operators to get near real-time authorizations to fly in low altitude airspace. B4UFly also helps make it clear to all operators where they can and cannot fly.
The app has been successfully developed and the airspace rules made clearer – but getting all drone operators to use apps like B4UFly is an ongoing effort for the FAA and the drone industry. Hegranes’ post indicates that the effort has been successful.
“The highlight number the FAA recently announced was that there have been over 320,000 LAANC authorizations granted, but a deeper look provides even more evidence of LAANC utilization accelerating in 2020,” Hegranes writes. “There have been more LAANC authorizations granted this year than in the first 21 months of LAANC (going back to the first authorization in 2017). To put it another way, over a third of total LAANC authorizations granted occurred in just the first six months of 2020.”
Kittyhawk processes nearly half of all LAANC authorizations. “For such a new technology, this sustained usage and adoption are powerful, and it speaks to the value of having access to the air,” he says.