Airspace around airports is restricted for drone pilots unless they have authorization from Air Traffic Control. 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. Before LAANC, the only way to receive this authorization was through a waiver from the FAA, which could take up to 90 days.
Skyward is an FAA-approved LAANC provider, 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 Air Traffic. 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 in all areas. Skyward will continue to update our Airspace Map as the FAA adds more airports. Download our PDF of current UAS Facility Maps for current information.
Requesting Approval to Fly in Controlled Airspace through LAANC
For a detailed walkthrough of how to use LAANC in Skyward, see the Skyward User Guide.
To request flight approval in a facility map from Skyward’s web app, go to Skyward’s airspace map. If you’re flying in an area in which you’ve planned an operation before, select the shape from your Shape Definition Library and click the “Create Operation” button. If you’ll be flying in a new area, drop a pin near where you want to fly and click “New Operation.” Draw your flight area, then click “Next” to move to the operation page.
The operation page will show a snapshot of your flight area, with the facility map lines showing where the altitude limits change in your area of operation. The table under the map lists the grids touched by your area of operation.
Before you can press the “Request Authorization” button and 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 must be set
- 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, usually within seconds of submission.
- Further coordination: When requesting an altitude above the published limit (but no higher than 400 ft), someone from Air Traffic will manually review the request before either issuing an approval or denial.
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. Please read and accept the conditions listed.
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 accessed later in Skyward as needed. The status will change to “Approved” in the table beneath the map.
Further Coordination Requests
You can also submit a further coordination request to apply for permission to fly higher than the posted grid ceiling through Skyward. Enter your maximum height above ground level for the flight and add an extra safety explanation detailing how you will mitigate additional risk. Then follow the same submission procedure as a regular LAANC authorization.
When Air Traffic makes a decision on any exception requests, you will receive an email with the status.
LAANC Requests with Skyward InFlight
Skyward subscribers can also submit LAANC and further coordination requests through InFlight, Skyward’s mobile app and ground control station, using the same workflow as the web app.
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