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Highlights from the 2018 FAA UAS Symposium: LAANC, BVLOS and Drone ID

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The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 3rd Annual Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Symposium took place in Baltimore on March 6th – 8th 2018, with several major announcements from FAA officials. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the event.

LAANC – Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability

The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), providing near instantaneous airspace authorization for drones, has been in the testing phase since October 2017. Acting Administrator Dan Elwell announcing that the FAA will expand its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) tests starting April 30, when the FAA begins enabling LAANC airspace requests and approvals at airports in the South Central region, spreading around the country in the following months. For pilots in the north east it looks like August 2018 is when LAANC goes online in our area. Here’s the timetable published by the agency online. The final deployments should be done in September 2018.

Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)

For businesses like Amazon, DHL and Google being able to operate drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) is crucial for deploying UAS. At the symposium Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao addressed, In taped remarks, told attendees that operations over people, night flight, and flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) were on the way. Allowing Beyond Visual Line of Sight is expected to speed the adoption and use of fixed winged drones. Look for a streamline waiver process for these in 2018.

Drone Identification

Stopping “the clueless, the careless and the criminals” is top priority for the FAA.  Angela Stubblefield, the deputy associate administrator for the FAA, said tracking and identifying drones is a key factor for airspace integration. With manned aircraft, you can see a tail number, but right now identifying a drone operator is extremely difficult. A drone flying over power infrastructure might cause concern, she said, but if the FAA could tell that it was owned by a utility or a railroad, it would ease those concerns. Several methods are being discussed including a suggestion by Ford to use flashing LED lights to identify drones.

You can find out more from the FAA here.


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