Boeing-owned charting and information management company Jeppesen is partnering with drone operations software supplier Kittyhawk. The duo's first release is low area authorization and notification capability (LAANC) implementation into Kittyhawk's software, though the startup said that more pieces of what will be a long-term collaboration between the two companies would be coming soon.
The FAA will be releasing thousands of square miles of additional airspace for drone use in the near future. One feature of Kittyhawk's updated solution, should approvals come through, will be the ability to receive digital airspace authorization from the FAA within the app, which the company says is unique.
Kittyhawk CEO Jon Hegranes said this will streamline the authorization process.
Kittyhawk's app interface showing different altitude zones. (Image courtesy of Kittyhawk)
“We’re approaching LAANC as more than just a faster authorization, but a critical piece to an effective drone operation,” Hegranes said. “Real-time authorization without real-time visibility, enforcement or compliance leaves more problems than solutions for commercial operators.”
Jeppesen and Kittyhawk’s combined capabilities will deliver industry-leading navigation data from Jeppesen and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) platform operations management from Kittyhawk, to simplify commercial drone operations. As a global leader in aviation services, Jeppesen provides longstanding experience and credibility to fortify a disruptive, early-stage company in Kittyhawk.
“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, Jeppesen's director of 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. The company said it will initially be accessible through the app, followed by capabilities on the computer portal shortly thereafter
Looking ahead, Kittyhawk says that LAANC is part of larger unmanned traffic management (UTM) objectives that Kittyhawk and Jeppesen hope to explore as the national airspace evolves to incorporate UAS. The Kittyhawk app already includes a miniature UTM showing all currently operating drones using the Kittyhawk software (that have elected to reveal their locations). The company wants to build on that and use it to aid in flight planning.