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Confusion Abounds on Potential LAANC Expiration

Business leaders and investors in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry have been talking nonstop about how the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) is allegedly expiring. Contrary to this chatter, no such expiration is expected to take place. Rather, it is more likely that there may be some confusion between LAANC and the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which will expire on Sept. 30, 2018, unless Congress acts to extend it. Given recent activity in Congress, agency operations are expected to continue.

At the time of its enactment, the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was the first long-term reauthorization of the FAA since 2007, and subsequently has been extended on a short-term basis since it faced expiration in 2016. This year, however, rather than simply enacting another short-term extension, it is expected that Congress will pass the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, or HR 302, by the Sept. 30 deadline. This enactment will keep the FAA authorized for another five years, through 2023. Most significantly, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 includes provisions purposed towards integrating UAVs into the national airspace.

While those within the UAV industry are advised to stay abreast of the expected enactment of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, interested parties can take ease in knowing that none of this means that LAANC is facing expiration. Through mobile requests processed at a near-real time pace, LAANC innovatively provides UAV users authorization to access controlled airspace near airports below approved altitudes. Generally, this approved altitude is 400 feet or lower. LAANC is still a relatively new program and just recently finished completely its roll-out to all six regional zones, with its latest expansion into the Central North region on Sept. 13, 2018.

In general, LAANC has been heralded as a major advancement and welcomed approach by commercial UAV users to quickly gain access to airspace, which previously required a considerably longer and more administratively burdensome timeframe. Further information on LAANC is available online at

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 270


About this Author

Clifford G. Maine, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Grand Rapids, Corporate Law Attorney

Clifford G. Maine is chairman of the firm’s Aviation Law Group. Mr. Maine's practice encompasses a wide variety of aviation law practice areas. He serves as general counsel to numerous aviation organizations, including the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport Authority.

Mr. Maine’s aviation clients include some of the largest corporate flight departments in the world. He has structured numerous aviation transactions, including domestic and foreign-based aircraft purchase and sale transactions, like-kind exchanges, timeshare agreements,...

Kenneth D. Suzan, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Minneapolis, Intellectual Property and Litigation Law Attorney
Of Counsel

Kenneth D. Suzan is of counsel in Barnes & Thornburg LLP's Minneapolis, Minnesota office and is a member of the firm's Intellectual Property Department.

Mr. Suzan has experience in the areas of trademark law, copyright law, Internet law, social media law, domain names, and service mark matters. He has counseled his clients on a variety of issues ranging from the inception of a trademark to ultimate registration, licensing and enforcement. Mr. Suzan counsels and assists wearable technology companies to protect brand names through trademark, copyright and domain name filings. He also performs trademark clearance searches for mobile application names and logos. Mr. Suzan has also worked with an expansive network of associates worldwide on trademark clearance, licensing and litigation matters.

Shane Solinger, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Minneapolis, Corporate, Finance and Bankruptcy Law Attorney

Shane Solinger is an associate in the Minneapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg, where he is a member of the Corporate Department.

Mr. Solinger gained legal experience as a summer associate for in the firm’s Minneapolis office and through an internship with Spectrum Brands, Inc. In those roles, he drafted responses to motions for summary judgment, motions for relief from automatic stays, complaints and answers; researched and drafted memoranda on diverse legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, business litigation, and various federal...