Airspace around airports is restricted to commercial crewed pilots unless a waiver is obtained from the FAA, which can take up to 90 days. LAANC stands for “Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability” and is a system developed by the FAA that allows drone operators to gain automated access to fly within controlled airspace. Skyward is an FAA-approved airspace vendor, which means that drone operators can gain automated access to this airspace via the Skyward platform. Skyward sends over authorization and notification records to the FAA for display to air traffic control.
This process takes place through what the FAA calls a “facility map.” Facility maps show the area around an airport, broken down into small grids. Each grid lists a maximum altitude, which a pilot is allowed to fly up to, if they request authorization from the FAA prior to flight. Some grids list “zero” —in that case, requests for access can still be made, but the request must be manually reviewed by the ATC. Others have 100-400 listed. Pilots can submit a request to fly in an approved grid through Skyward. If the request meets all the Part 107 requirements, Skyward acts as a proxy and delivers an automated approval from the FAA.
Please note: LAANC airspace is not available at every airport in the U.S. Skyward will continue to update our Airspace Map as the FAA rolls out more airports. Download our regularly updated PDF of UAS Facility Maps here. Currently LAANC access is available only on the Skyward cloud application.
Requesting Approval to Fly in Controlled Airspace through LAANC
To request flight approval in a facility map, create an operation and import an area of operation from the map. A snapshot of your area of operation will display on the operations page, with the facility map lines showing where the altitude limits change in your area of operation. The table under the map lists this information.
To submit an area of operation for approval, the following conditions must be met:
- Pilot in Command must be selected
- Pilot in Command must have a phone number on file (this can be done under Manage > Personnel)
- A start and end time
- The start time cannot be more than 90 days in the future
- The total on-site duration time cannot be more than 12 hours
There are two ways the FAA will approve a LAANC Request:
- Automated approval: When requesting an altitude at or below the published limit, an automated response will be issued from the FAA.
- Further coordination: When requesting an altitude above the published limit (but no more than 400 ft), someone from the ATC will manually review the request before either issuing an approval or denial. This one-minute video shows the process to request further coordination:
Here is an example of an area of operation that contains grids that qualify for automatic approval—and one grid that requires further coordination.
LAANC Notification of Intended Use
In order to use the authorization provided by the FAA, all commercial pilots must agree to abide by the Part 107 rules and understand the intent of the LAANC service.
Get Your LAANC Notice of Authorization In Seconds
If the request meets the requirements of the FAA, automatic authorization will be granted. A Notice of Authorization will be presented, which can be printed or simply referred to later as needed.
When the ATC makes a decision on any exception requests, you will receive an email with the status.