Last week the FAA announced that it has added 133 more air traffic facilities to the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC).
With these additions, LAANC is now accessible at a total of 537 facilities and 726 airports.
If you’re wondering what percentage of coverage these numbers come to in terms of the total amount of airports and air traffic facilities that now have LAANC capabilities, the answer is 81%.
While this means that 19% of U.S. air traffic facilities and airports still require manual airspace authorization requests, 81% represents substantial progress since LAANC was first rolled out back in late 2017.
Want to see if LAANC is available near you? Here is a list of all the facilities and airports currently participating in LAANC.
Don’t see your airport or facility on the list? Use the manual process to make an airspace authorization request at the FAADroneZone.
What Is LAANC?
Put simply, LAANC is a system that allows drone pilots to get instant air space authorization for flying in controlled airspace near airports.
Here are all of the things LAANC provides drone pilots:
- Access to controlled airspace at or below 400 feet.
- Awareness of where pilots can and cannot fly.
- Visibility into where and when drones are operating (for Air Traffic Professionals).
Before LAANC, the FAA was seen by some drone pilots as notoriously slow to process airspace authorization requests, with some requests going 90 days or longer before receiving a response.
At the time, some commercial drone pilots complained that these delays disrupted their ability to work, since they couldn’t promise a delivery date for jobs that customers needed done in controlled airspace.
LAANC has helped solve these delay issues, providing drone pilots with a fast-tracked solution to airspace authorization requests.
The way LAANC works is by giving drone pilots access to UAS facility maps showing exactly where and to what height drone operations are permissible in controlled airspace near airports.
By looking at a UAS facility map, a drone pilot can see whether or not his operation will be allowed, effectively removing the middleman in the authorization process (the middleman being the FAA—prior to the release of the UAS facility maps, FAA personnel would manually refer to these maps in reviewing airspace authorization requests).
Once drone pilots have confirmed that their operation in controlled airspace is permissible using the information found on UAS facility maps, they can use an app offered by one of the many LAANC suppliers (see the end of this article for a full list) to get instant authorization to fly there.
In addition to UAS facility map data, LAANC incorporates any existing NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) and TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions) in a given area in granting or denying an airspace authorization request.
Operations above the Designated Altitude Ceiling
As mentioned above, UAS facility maps detail both the boundaries and the altitude ceilings for operations in controlled airspace.
These altitude ceilings go down the closer you get to an airport or air traffic facility, providing the maximum height at which you can get permission to fly via LAANC.
However, LAANC can also be used to make a request to fly above these altitude ceilings.
This request is called a “further coordination request.” The maximum altitude that can be requested is still only 400 feet, in keeping with the Part 107 rules.
Unlike regular airspace authorizations made via LAANC, which can be processed instantaneously, these kinds of special requests must be coordinated manually and made in advance (the earliest you can make this kind of request is 90 days prior to your proposed mission).
How Do You Use LAANC?
Want to get instant authorization to fly in the controlled airspace surrounding one of the air traffic facilities or airports that currently offer LAANC capabilities?
To use LAANC you have to start by choosing one of the private service suppliers with which the FAA has partnered.
Here is a list of all of the current LAANC service suppliers:
*Note: The FAA adds new suppliers to this list as they become approved. To see the list of service suppliers on the FAA’s website, go here.
For more in-depth information on using LAANC, check out our guide How To Get Drone Flights Approved in Controlled Airspace with LAANC.