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Enterprise drone operations software specialist Kittyhawk has announced a collaboration with Jeppesen, a Boeing subsidiary. The pair will begin working towards offering digital airspace authorization directly from the FAA through the Kittyhawk platform.

Kittyhawk and Jeppesen are aiming for approval from the FAA to provide Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). Once the green light has been given, the company’s elite enterprise customers will gain access to digital authorization in near real time, allowing them to fly within thousands of square miles of airspace and send digital flight plan notifications.

A statement from Kittyhawk says that the company’s “unwavering commitment to quality and utility means that this will be a Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) implementation unlike any other LAANC implementation currently on the market. Starting with their dedication to intuitive design, Kittyhawk and Jeppesen will streamline the LAANC authorization process to be as easy to use as modern drones are to fly.”

Through LAANC pilots and drone companies can:

  • Apply to receive a near real-time authorization for operations under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports.
  • Request to fly above the designated altitude ceiling in a UAS Facility Map, up to 400 feet. Applicants may apply up to 90 days in advance of a flight and the approval is coordinated manually through the FAA.

Jeppesen and Kittyhawk will combine their expertise in navigation data and UAS platform operations management respectively. Jeppesen’s parent company, Boeing, is one of just ten to participate in the FAA’s closed beta of drone authorizations, and one of only three to use that beta to help create software available to the public.

“We’re approaching LAANC as more than just a faster authorization, but a critical piece to an effective drone operation,” said Jon Hegranes, CEO of Kittyhawk. “Real-time authorization without real-time visibility, enforcement, or compliance leaves more problems than solutions for commercial operators.”

In the next few months, the FAA is gearing up to release more than 2,000 square miles of new airspace for drones to fly in, including densely populated areas and near airports. According to the statement from Kittyhawk, some of the platform’s pilots estimate that they will be able to fly up to twice as many flights with LAANC. Previously there would have been up to a 90-day manual authorization process.

“This strategic alliance with Kittyhawk will help us gain a strong foothold in the dynamic and expanding UAV/drone market for commercial operations,” said Mike Abbott, director, Jeppesen Data Solutions.

“Eliminating manual processes through data-driven navigation and LAANC operations management matches perfectly with our dedication to simplifying complex procedures in traditional aviation fields and we look forward to exciting new developments with our Kittyhawk relationship, moving forward.”

Kittyhawk plans to start deploying LAANC to enterprise customers in the coming weeks and will have a full deployment available to the public shortly after.

Several companies have already completed the technical steps required by the FAA to provide LAANC Services, including AirMapProject WingRockwell Collins and Skyward.

Malek Murison is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for tech trends and innovation. He handles product reviews, major releases and keeps an eye on the enthusiast market for DroneLife.
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