The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) just launched a new, free LAANC software, making it easier for you to fly drones in FAA-controlled airspace (such as if you’re flying drones in your backyard within the controlled-airspace radius of an airport).
LAANC, which is short for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, is a system that automates the application and approval process for airspace authorizations, so drone pilots can get near-instant approval to fly in airspace that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to fly in.
And the need for those near-instant approvals is growing. More than 320,000 LAANC authorizations have been granted since the automated approval program was launched in beta mode in 2017. What’s more, more LAANC authorizations were granted in the first half of 2020, than in the first 21 months of LAANC’s launch combined.
The new AMA software will streamline authorization services and flight planning tools that make flying safer and less burdensome for AMA’s community of pilots. Once signed up, pilots can file LAANC authorizations with the FAA when flying in controlled airspace via a web portal and mobile application. The software also includes additional flight planning tools such as interactive maps, weather information and flight logs.
The free LAANC software is designed for recreational users — perhaps not surprising considering the AMA is an 84-year-old organization that supports hobby pilots, and more recently has grown to support drone hobbyists. The AMA has about 175,000 members spread throughout 2,400 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico.
The new, free LAANC software was made in partnership with a company called UASidekick, which also creates paid software for commercial drone pilots (that software includes features like micro-weather, real-time NOTAM filing, fleet management, compliance tracking, and logbook capabilities).
“One of our top priorities is helping hobbyists comply with evolving regulations…to help recreational and commercial pilots secure necessary approvals from the FAA and plan safe flights,” said Chad Budreau, Executive Director of AMA in a prepared statement. “(This) will hopefully make the safe operation of UAS a little bit easier for our community.”