FAA to field test new drone traffic management capabilities

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will begin field testing new drone traffic management capabilities to further integrate these aircraft into the national airspace system.

the Unmanned Aircraft System (UTM) Traffic Management Field trials, which will begin in the spring of 2022, will allow the government and the drone community to continue improving standards, data exchange methods and cybersecurity capabilities.

UTM includes a set of complementary, but distinct, air traffic management services for manned aircraft. It is intended for small unmanned aircraft operations in airspace, typically flying below 400 feet, and builds on current rules and capabilities that allow airspace access and authorization.

The test results will provide the FAA with critical information to support the development of new policies and for the industry’s development of updated standards to allow drones to routinely fly beyond operators’ visual line of sight.

The FAA and its industry partners will conduct multiple drone flights in realistic test scenarios to learn more about drone traffic management in varying environments. Flight testing will examine how the latest capabilities and standards will work to support real-world operations.

On February 4, the FAA issued its millionth airspace clearance allowing drone pilots to use occupied airspace safely. The Low Altitude Clearance and Notification Capability (LAANC) automates the process for drone pilots to quickly obtain clearance and lets air traffic professionals know where drones can operate. Since becoming an official program in 2018, LAANC has provided an automated system for drone pilots – commercial pilots and recreational pilots – requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace.

Read the FAA announcement

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