Background & FAQs for Aloft’s suite of developer tools, including APIs and map tiles.

What is an API?

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules and protocols for building and interacting with software applications. APIs define the methods and data formats that a program should use to communicate with other software or services.

Think of an API as a menu in a restaurant. The menu provides a list of dishes you can order, along with a description of each dish. When you specify what menu items you want, the kitchen (i.e., the system) prepares and serves your order. In this analogy, the menu is the API, your order is the API call, and the kitchen is the system that executes the order and returns the response.

With Aloft’s new APIs, developers can bring Aloft’s authoritative fleet and airspace capabilities directly into their applications.

What is “deep linking”?

Deep linking refers to the practice of directing a user past the homepage of a website or app and straight to a specific location within it. In the context of mobile applications, a deep link might take the user to a specific piece of content or page in the app.

This technique is often used in marketing and advertising to guide a user directly to a specific product, service, or piece of content, rather than leaving them to navigate from the homepage. Deep linking can improve the user experience, increase engagement, and drive conversions by making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for or what they’re looking to achieve, such as getting an airspace authorization.

What is LAANC?

LAANC stands for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability. It’s a system developed by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) in the United States in collaboration with private industry. LAANC aims to provide drone pilots near real-time processing of airspace authorizations for flights under 400 feet in controlled airspace. It allows safer, more efficient shared use of the airspace and helps drone operators to comply with FAA regulations.

What is a USS, and how do they get approved by the FAA?

A USS, or UAS Service Supplier, is a private sector entity that provides services to UAS operators, such as drone pilots, and communicates with the FAA on their behalf. These services often involve enabling drone pilots to gain authorization for flights in controlled airspace, typically through the LAANC system.

To become a USS, a company must apply through the FAA’s approval process. This process requires that the company demonstrate it can meet certain technical and operational capabilities laid out by the FAA. Once the FAA has verified these capabilities, and the company has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the FAA, the company can be approved as a USS. USS’s must undergo continual onboarding, audits, and QA to maintain an approved status. It’s worth noting that this approval process is intended to ensure safety and compliance with aviation regulations, as well as the privacy and security of all stakeholders.

Aloft has been an FAA-approved USS since 2018.

Does Aloft get federal funding for LAANC?

No, Aloft (formerly known as Kittyhawk) does not receive federal funding for providing LAANC services. As a UAS Service Supplier (USS), Aloft operates in the private sector and provides its services to drone operators on a commercial basis. It’s important to understand that while Aloft interacts with the FAA in its capacity as a USS, it does not receive government funding for this role.

How would someone use your API?

To use our API, a user would typically integrate it into their existing software systems or platforms. This integration allows the user to programmatically access and leverage our services, such as airspace management and drone flight authorization, directly from their own applications.

For example, if you’re operating a drone delivery service at scale, our API can provide programmatic airspace solutions that help automate and streamline the process of securing flight authorizations. Instead of manually seeking approval for each flight, you can use our API to automatically request and receive these authorizations.

This can be particularly beneficial in a scenario where you have a large number of drones making frequent deliveries. By integrating our API into your operational systems, you can ensure that your drones are always compliant with airspace regulations, and you can manage your fleet more efficiently and effectively.

To get started, you would need to review our API documentation, which provides detailed instructions on how to use the various functions and services available through our API. From there, you’d would need to request access to Aloft’s API and map tile servies.

Why is API and deep linking access for LAANC such a big deal for the FAA and the drone industry at large?

API and deep linking access for LAANC are significant for the FAA and the drone industry for a number of reasons:

1. Efficiency and Speed: With API and deep linking, drone operators can get near-real-time authorizations for their flights in controlled airspace in new places and from new applications or mission control centers. This eliminates a lot of waiting time and paperwork, allowing for more efficient operations.

2. Automation: For drone operations at scale, like drone delivery services or large-scale surveys, using an API for LAANC allows operators to automate the process of securing flight authorizations. This reduces the risk of human error and enables more flights to be managed concurrently.

3. Safety and Compliance: The use of API and deep linking ensures that more drone flights can be compliant with FAA regulations, which helps to maintain the safety and security of the airspace.

4. Integration and Flexibility: APIs allow for seamless integration of LAANC into existing platforms, software, and workflows of drone operators. This can lead to operational efficiency and flexibility in conducting drone operations. Especially for advanced use cases like drone-in-a-box or one-to-many operations, direct integration of Aloft UTM and LAANC capabilities to new systems provides new levels of customization and optimization.

5. User Experience: Deep linking and API integrations can improve the user experience by making it easier for drone operators to navigate directly to the specific LAANC feature they need within an app.

6. Industry Growth: The ease and accessibility of LAANC through API and deep linking can stimulate growth in the drone industry, paving the way for new business models and applications, such as drone delivery services, emergency response, infrastructure inspection, and more.

In summary, these technologies contribute significantly to the scalability, safety, and user-friendliness of drone operations, all of which are critical factors in the ongoing growth and development of the drone industry.

How did it work with the FAA before the FAA allowed LAANC API and deep linking?

Without approved API or deep linking LAANC capabilities, drone operators could only use the USS-approved applications directly. Faster and more efficient than the manual waiver process before LAANC, the LAANC system allows drone operators to apply for airspace authorization digitally and receive approval almost instantly. The introduction of API and deep linking capabilities further streamlines this process, enabling drone operators to integrate LAANC into their existing operational systems and workflows. This has greatly improved the speed and efficiency of securing airspace authorization, paving the way for more advanced and large-scale drone operations.

What APIs does Aloft offer?

Aloft offers a variety of APIs that are designed to assist with different aspects of drone operations, encompassing fleet management, user management, and airspace management.

1. Fleet Management APIs: These APIs allow users to programmatically manage their drone fleets. They can track and manage drone locations, monitor equipment status, and even automate certain tasks related to drone operations. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses that operate large numbers of drones and need a way to manage them efficiently.

2. User Management APIs: Aloft’s User Management APIs allow businesses to manage users and permissions. For example, they can add or remove users, assign roles and permissions, and track user activity. This helps ensure that only authorized individuals have access to certain features and data, enhancing security and compliance.

3. Airspace APIs: These APIs provide real-time airspace data that can help drone operators plan and execute flights safely and in compliance with regulations. This includes data on weather conditions, airspace restrictions, and nearby manned aircraft.

4. LAANC APIs: Aloft’s LAANC APIs offer the ability to request and receive flight authorizations in controlled airspace almost instantly. This is crucial for businesses that need to operate in such areas, as it enables them to get approval for their flights quickly and efficiently.

These APIs can be integrated into existing software platforms and workflows, enabling businesses to automate and streamline their drone operations. They offer a high level of flexibility and scalability, making them well-suited for a wide range of drone applications, from small-scale operations to large, commercial drone services.

How does a developer visualize Aloft airspace in their applications?

Developers can visualize Aloft airspace in their applications using Aloft’s Map Tile Service. This service provides a way to overlay authoritative, up-to-date airspace information on any base map used within an application.

The Map Tile Service works by delivering airspace information in a format that can be easily incorporated into various mapping libraries (like Google Maps, Mapbox, or Leaflet). The airspace data is broken down into ’tiles’, which are small, square images that fit together to cover the desired area. Each tile contains a specific piece of the overall airspace map.

By incorporating these tiles into their base map, developers can provide users with a clear, visual representation of airspace regulations and conditions. This includes information about controlled airspace, special use airspace, temporary flight restrictions, and more.

To use the Map Tile Service, developers would typically make a request to Aloft’s API specifying the area they want to cover and the level of detail they need. The service then responds with the appropriate tiles, which can be added to the base map in the application. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found in Aloft’s API documentation.

This feature offers a powerful way for developers to enhance their applications, making them more useful and informative for drone operators. With a few lines of code, a developer can have a B4UFLY-like map right inside of their own apps and platforms.

How does a developer request access to Aloft’s developer tools?

To gain access to Aloft’s developer tools, a developer must first apply through the company’s developer program. Here are the general steps involved:

1. Visit Aloft’s Developer Site: Go to the developer section of Aloft’s website – Here you can find more information about the developer tools and APIs available, as well as the benefits and requirements of becoming a developer.

2. Apply for Access: Fill out the application form provided on the site. This typically involves providing some basic information about yourself and your company, and explaining how you plan to use Aloft’s developer tools.

3. Review and Approval: Once you’ve submitted your application, it will be reviewed by Aloft’s team. If your application is approved, you’ll be granted access to Aloft’s developer tools.

4. Access the Tools: After approval, you’ll receive instructions on how to access the developer tools. You’ll also have access to Aloft’s API documentation, which provides detailed instructions on how to use the APIs.

5. Developer Support**: If you have any questions or issues while using the developer tools, Aloft provides support resources to assist you.

Remember, the specific process might vary slightly, so it’s always best to check Aloft’s developer site for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Is there a cost associated with access and usage?

Yes, there is a cost associated with accessing and using Aloft’s developer tools. However, Aloft offers a number of simple, flexible plans designed to accommodate different needs and budgets. These plans make it easy to get started and scale up as your requirements grow.

To learn more about the specific pricing details and to choose a plan that best suits your needs, you can visit Aloft’s developer site at, and from there, you can also submit a request for access to the developer tools.

If you have any questions about the pricing, the plans, or any other aspect of Aloft’s developer tools, you can reach out to Aloft’s support team by emailing They are always ready to help and provide the information you need.