Controlled Airspace – Do you Need to Fly Your Drone In It?

Until recently, U.S. companies had to wait about 90 days for authorization from the FAA to fly a drone in controlled airspace. No longer!

Photo of drone in Controlled Air Space Access

Controlled Air Space Access

Now, any Skyward user can receive permission to fly in controlled airspace in just a few seconds—this is a game-changer for any company that needs to fly in urban areas or near airports.

In addition, the FAA announced the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, or LAANC rollout schedule for over 500 airports all around the United States.

Background: Skyward was the very first drone airspace provider approved by the FAA to offer automated access to U.S. controlled airspace as part of their LAANC.

This process takes place through what the FAA calls “facility maps,” which show the area around an airport, broken down into small grids. Each grid displays the maximum altitude at which a drone is allowed to fly upon FAA authorization. Some grids list “zero”—in that case, flight isn’t allowed without a waiver. Others show 100-400 ft AGL. Pilots can submit a request to fly in an approved grid through Skyward. If the request meets Part 107 requirements, Skyward acts as a proxy and delivers an automated approval from the FAA.

The FAA announced the rollout schedule for hundreds of airports, covering the entirety of the United States.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • We’ve listed the rollout dates by airport codes, but it’s important to note that LAANC covers UAS access to controlled airspace, which is the purview of the federal air traffic control centers (ATC), not the airports themselves.
  • Not every ATC facility has chosen to participate in LAANC at this point. Please don’t call your airport or ATC to ask about LAANC access—the FAA has been very clear about this.
  • This is the intended schedule set by the FAA, and we know things don’t always go as planned even as we hope for the best.
  • Due to complications with inconsistent ownership boundaries on UAS facility maps, the FAA has decided to temporarily turn off LAANC capabilities at the following airports:

                 Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)
                 William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
                 Dulles International Airport (IAD)
                 Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
                 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
                 LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

The FAA is always the ultimate source of truth regarding live LAANC UAS facilities.

For more info click here.

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