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[/FONT][FONT=Raleway]News & Videos ](https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media)AAseeks ‘emergency action’ on drones [/FONT]
[FONT=“Roboto Condensed”]FAA seeks’emergency’ action on dronesFAA seeks ‘emergency’ action on drones [/FONT]
[FONT=Raleway]October 16, 2017 By Jim Moore [/FONT]
**The FAA has been swamped with requests from Part 107 dronepilots seeking to navigate controlled airspace, and reports of drone safetyincidents have also surged. Believing that frustrated drone pilots are flyingnear airports without waiting for airspace authorization, the agency has sought“emergency” clearance to quickly implement electronic authorization. **
The FAA has published hundreds of “grids” depictingthe maximum allowable altitudes for unmanned aircraft operations near airports.Composite image made from FAA facility map screen shot and AOPA file photo.
In a [FONT=Raleway]FederalRegister notice](https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/10/11/2017-21878/request-for-emergency-processing-of-collection-of-information-by-the-office-of-management-and-budget) published Oct. 11, the FAA sought from theWhite House Office of Management and Budget authority to put electronicauthorization of drone flights in controlled airspace on a fast track. The agencystated that with delays of up to 90 days for approvals, “non-compliant”operations have increased sharply, and the FAA now receives an average of morethan 250 drone-related safety reports per month, and about 1,500 over asix-month period. [/FONT]
The FAA implemented Part 107 in August 2016 after a lengthyrulemaking process, and this year began publishing](https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2017/july/06/faa-continues-uas-map-rollout) “grids” developed in collaborationwith airport tower staff that depict the maximum safe and permissible altitudesfor unmanned aircraft operations. The FAA published those maps through an online portal fordelivering unmanned aircraft data to aviators, and has long planned to usethe UAS maps to automate airspace authorization requests through the LowAltitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system. Remotepilots certificated under Part 107 who submit requeststhat comport with the published limitations through the current system canexpect approval, the FAA has said.
The FAA had expected to take until the end of the year toimplement the electronic authorization of LAANC, but the abundance of reportedsafety incidents and the backlog of airspace authorization requests receivedonline created a logjam that the FAA hopes to clear by expediting the LAANCimplementation.
“Due to the pressing safety consideration of reducing safetyreports due to non-compliant UAS operations, the FAA cannot wait the normal 90days of public comment,” the agency stated in the [FONT=Raleway]Federal Register notice Oct. 11. “Therefore, FAA isrequesting (Office of Management and Budget) approval of this collection ofinformation 7 days after publication of this Notice in the FederalRegister. Upon OMB approval of its Emergency clearance request, FAA will followthe normal clearance procedures for the information collection associated withLAANC.”[/FONT]
The FAA said LAANC will enable the agency to grant “near-realtime authorizations for the vast majority of operations,” and called immediateimplementation of LAANC “vital to the safety of the National Airspace Systembecause it would (1) encourage compliance with 14 CFR 107.41 by speeding up thetime to process authorization requests (2) reduce distraction of controllersworking in the Tower, and (3) increase public access and capacity of the systemto grant authorizations.”
The FAA expects LAANC will reduce “non-compliant” operations byat least 30 percent, cutting the number of reported safety incidents by 450 inthe coming six months.
The FAA notice was published a week after the NTSB confirmed the first midair collision](https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2017/october/05/drone-pilot-provides-data-from-black-hawk-midair) involving a drone anda manned aircraft, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that was patrolling New YorkHarbor during the United Nations General Assembly in September. The helicopterlanded safely despite main rotor damage, and a piece of the drone was recoveredfrom inside the helicopter that led investigators to the operator with helpfrom drone maker DJI.
The area where the Sept. 21 collision took place does not appearto be within an area where a drone flight could have been authorized, given thetightly controlled New York Class B airspace and the presence of flightrestrictions to protect the U.N. General Assembly. The U.S. Army, NTSB, and FAAare all investigating, and no sanctions have been announced against the pilot,who is cooperating with the investigation, NTSB officials said.
The FAA expects to process 124,000 airspace authorizationrequests in 2017, increasing 35 percent per year in following years. FromSeptember 2016 through July, 20,566 authorization requests had been received,and more than 6,000 remain in the process. The FAA expects that backlog willexceed 25,000 requests within the coming six months in the absence of a moreautomated system