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 Traffic Management (UTM) Field Test, which will start 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 services that are complementary to, but separate from, Air Traffic Management services for manned aircraft. It is targeted toward small unmanned aircraft operations in airspace, generally flying below 400 feet, and builds on current rules and capabilities that enable airspace access and authorization.
The test outcomes will provide the FAA with critical information to support the development of new policies and for industry development of updated standards to allow drones to routinely fly beyond visual line of sight of the operators.
The FAA and its industry partners will conduct multiple drone flights in realistic test scenarios to learn more about how to manage drone traffic in varying environments. The flight tests will examine how the latest capabilities and standards will work to support the operations in the real world.
On February 4, the FAA issued its millionth airspace authorization for drone pilots to use busy airspace safely. The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) automates the process for drone pilots to quickly gain authorization and provides Air Traffic professionals with awareness of where drones may be operating. Since becoming an official program in 2018, LAANC has provided an automated system for drone pilots– both commercial pilots and recreational pilots – requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace.