On Friday, Skyward’s hardworking team of engineers was proud to release LAANC airspace access to our cloud solution. Now, all Skyward users, including our free Pilot Accounts, can get FAA authorization to fly in controlled airspace in near real time.
A quick recap: The FAA’s Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability (LAANC) allows approved partners such as Skyward to give safe, fast access to certain volumes of controlled airspace. For now, the program is in beta at 45 airports: Cincinnati International Airport (CVG), Reno (RNO), San Jose (SJC), Lincoln (LNK), the 40 airports in the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, and just this morning, the FAA released Phoenix as well.
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.
I encourage you to check out the functionality in the Skyward solution; we’ll be adding LAANC access to our mobile app in the future.
Here’s a quick overview of how it works, with step-by-step instructions below.
LAANC in Skyward, Step by Step
Step #1: Define your area of operation
To request LAANC access, create an operation in Skyward 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 clearly showing varying altitude limits in your area of operation. The table under the map lists this information.
This example shows what happens when an area of operation overlaps with an altitude limit of zero. Skyward won’t make a LAANC request in this case.
Step #2: Include required information
Before submitting an area of operation for automated approval, make sure to include the following information:
- Name of the Pilot in Command
- The Pilot in Command’s phone number on file (add this to the pilot’s Skyward personnel record)
- 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
- No zero altitude grids exist in the AOP being submitted
Step #3: Agree to the terms
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.
Step #4: Get your notice of approval 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.
I know that many of you probably still have questions about LAANC. Next week, we’ll be holding a Q&A webinar, and we’re honored to be joined by Jay Merkle, the Deputy Vice President of FAA’s Program Management Organization and the FAA executive in charge of LAANC. Just click the banner below to sign up—and if you can’t join the live session, we’ll be sending out the recording afterward.