The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that they have expanded the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system to include recreational drone pilots. LAANC is a collaboration between the drone industry and FAA that allows for near real-time approval in controlled airspace at altitudes below 400 feet. This latest development will give recreational flyers access to 600 airports participating in LAANC, covering roughly 2,000 square miles.

The world's leading drone manufacturer, DJI, acknowledged the good news for recreational pilots, who were restricted before today by contradictory rulemaking, and fully endorsed San Francisco-based UAS service provider Kittyhawk. Kittyhawk recently released LAANC 2.0 featuring ‘the latest FAA data sources, rules and requirements packaged into one seamless workflow.’ Enterprise and app users can also apply for LAANC authorizations up to 90 days in advance.

Kittyhawk will be offering its LAANC authorization services to hobbyists for free in hopes of inspiring them to consider a professional career path in the drone industry. 'The American drone industry needs a strong supply of drone innovators, entrepreneurs and hands-on pilots to continue its rapid growth,' said the company's founder, Josh Ziering. ‘Drones are helping businesses, nonprofits, governments and researchers do their work better, faster, safer and cheaper, and accelerating those benefits requires a steady pipeline of talented drone enthusiasts who turn their recreational curiosity into a profession.’

‘Giving recreational drone pilots a free and easy way to access the nation’s controlled airspace is a way to help ensure America achieves all the benefits that drones can offer.’

‘Giving recreational drone pilots a free and easy way to access the nation’s controlled airspace is a way to help ensure America achieves all the benefits that drones can offer,’ he continues. Using LAANC, which replaces the requirement of notifying nearby airports, provides FAA Air Traffic Control Facilities critical information about all approved flights, enhancing situational awareness in airspace and enhancing overall safety.

‘Drones have earned an admirable safety record around the world, and the FAA has recognized that they may be operated safely in certain areas near airports by both professional and recreational operators,’ adds Brendan Schulman, DJI’s Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. Kittyhawk's app is free to download and available for both iOS and Android. For the latest updates on LAANC capabilities, bookmark the FAA's official resource.