On July 23, 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expanded the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC)—the system that processes airspace approvals for sUAS operators in controlled airspace—to include recreational operations. Researchers sought to collect and evaluate 30 days of UAS operational activity in controlled airspace using UAS detection equipment. Detected UAS flight data was compared against UAS Facility Maps and LAANC approval data to assess UAS operator compliance and behavior patterns. Researchers documented 94 LAANC approvals and detected 271 UAS flights within the sample area during the sampling period. The research team noted that UAS detections exceeded LAANC authorizations by a rate of approximately four-to-one. Only 7.0% of detected UAS operations could be correlated to a LAANC authorization, possibly indicating significant rates of non-compliance. Additionally, researchers determined that 34.3% (n =93) of detected UAS operations exceeded maximum altitudes prescribed for their respective location. Forty-four percent (n =41) of UASFM altitude exceedances occurred above 500 feet AGL, posing potential risk to manned aviation operations in the National Airspace System. Researchers advocate for the implementation of additional measures to curtail non-compliance, including additional UAS operator training, deterrence, and enforcement measures. The research team intends to expand this study to additional airports via related research projects within the FAA’s ASSURE Program.



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