Getting instant approval to fly commercial drones in the East Coast corridor and surrounding areas is now a reality, with the expansion of the FAA’s LAANC (Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability), which allows pilots to get flight plans approved in seconds.

Today, August 16, LAANC went live in the Eastern North region, home to many of the nation’s busiest airports. No more manual permitting that can take months: Part 107 drone pilots with access to digital flight management tools like Skyward—one of the few platforms with LAANC capability—can get authorized to launch in controlled airspace instantly. You can download the complete rollout schedule here.

The area includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.

Here’s what you need to know, from where LAANC is available, to how it works, to some examples of commercial uses of drones in FAA’s northeastern zone.

LAANC Goes Live in Eastern North Region

The LAANC rollout includes airspace in New York City, Charlotte, Boston, and Philadelphia and nearly 60 smaller air markets. See the full list below.

NOTE: LAANC activation has been postponed for some airspace, as ownership boundaries are clarified on UAS facility maps. This includes Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Newark Liberty International, and LaGuardia.

We’ve also learned that, as with other regional rollouts, some airports have been omitted that were originally scheduled to be included. These are: Brunswick Executive Airport (BXM), Brunswick, ME; Griffiss International Airport (RME), Rome, NY; Hanover County Municipal Airport (OFP), Ashland, VA; Joint Base Andrews (ADW), Camp Springs, MD; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Arlington, VA; Mid-State Regional Airport (PSB), Philipsburg, PA; Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (ITH), Ithaca, NY; East Hampton Airport (HTO), East Hampton, NY; Lancaster Airport (LNS), Lancaster, PA; and Trenton–Mercer Airport (TTN), Township, NJ.

Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZBW)

  • Houlton International Airport (HUL), Houlton, ME
  • Edward F. Knapp State Airport (MPV), Barre, VT
  • Massena International Airport (MSS), Massena, NY
  • Northern Maine Regional Airport (PQI), Presque Isle, ME
  • Concord Municipal Airport (CON), Concord, NH
  • Albany International Airport (ALB), Colonie, NY
  • Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport (GFL), Glens Falls, NY
  • Bangor International Airport (BGR), Bangor, ME
  • Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (BHB), Trenton, ME
  • Burlington International Airport (BTV), South Burlington, VT
  • Portland International Jetport (PWM), Portland, ME
  • Augusta State Airport (AUG), Augusta, ME
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), Syracuse, NY
  • Bradley International Airport (BDL), Windsor Locks, CT
  • Logan International Airport (BOS), Boston, MA
  • Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK), Nantucket, MA
  • Hanscom Field (BED), Bedford, MA
  • Manchester–Boston Regional Airport (MHT), Manchester, NH

Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZDC)

  • Danville Regional Airport (DAN), Danville, VA
  • Ingalls Field Airport (HSP), Hot Springs, VA
  • Pitt–Greenville Airport (PGV), Greenville, NC
  • Rocky Mount–Wilson Regional Airport (RWI), Rocky Mount, NC
  • Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Egg Harbor Township, NJ
  • Millville Executive Airport (MIV), Millville, NJ
  • Wilmington International Airport (ILM), Wilmington, NC
  • Albert J. Ellis Airport (OAJ), Richlands, NC
  • Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), Weyers Cave, VA
  • Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF), Newport News, VA
  • Fayetteville Regional Airport (FAY), Fayetteville, NC
  • Norfolk International Airport (ORF), Norfolk, VA
  • Raleigh–Durham International Airport (RDU), Morrisville, NC
  • Richmond International Airport (RIC), Richmond, VA
  • Roanoke–Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA), Roanoke, VA

New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZNY)

  • York Airport (THV), York, PA
  • Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP), Pittston Township, PA
  • Greater Binghamton Airport (BGM), Binghamton, NY
  • Essex County Airport (CDW), Caldwell, NJ
  • Elmira/Corning Regional Airport (ELM), Elmira, NY
  • Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, NY
  • Westchester County Airport (HPN), White Plains, CT
  • Wilmington Airport (ILG), Wilmington, DE
  • Harrisburg International Airport (MDT), Middletown, PA
  • Morristown Airport (MMU), Morristown, NJ
  • Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE), Philadelphia, PA
  • Hudson Valley Regional Airport (POU), Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Reading Regional Airport (RDG), Reading, PA
  • Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, NJ
  • Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), Allentown, PA
  • Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP), Ronkonkoma, NY
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Philadelphia, PA

Video: How to Access LAANC in Skyward

Remember This When Using LAANC in the Eastern North

Here are the five main things to know about the newest regional rollout of real-time access to controlled airspace, including popular commercial uses of UAS in the northeastern U.S.

  1. LAANC goes live on August 16, 2018, for the UAS facilities managed by five air route traffic control centers (ATCs): Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZBW), Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZDC), New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZNY), and Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE), Allentown, PA.
  2. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that every airport in the region is participating. ATCs managed by private contractors aren’t included.
  3. UAV regulations put in place to protect key infrastructure, privacy, natural resources, and public safety vary by state. New Jersey state law bans operating drones in or near jails or prisons, interfering with first responders, or using them for hunting. Some Connecticut municipalities may forbid flights over public water supply facilities. In Virginia, using UAS to peep or spy into a dwelling or building on property not your own is a trespassing misdemeanor. Make sure your aircraft is registered, your flight plan is in compliance with both state and local laws, and you’re fully licensed.
  4. Don’t call your airport or ATC to ask about LAANC access. They don’t have capacity or authority to respond to what could be thousands of inquiries. To stay in compliance with the rules, use a drone ops management platform like Skyward that has up-to-the-minute LAANC status. (See the walk-through video or review how it works step by step on Skyward’s platform.)
  5. LAANC will be expanded to one more region this year, the Central North (September 13), completing the phased rollout of the program. Check with the FAA to confirm these go-live dates, since the timetable may shift. The official list of ATCs with live LAANC capability is on the agency’s site.

Commercial Uses of Drones in the Region

Drone systems are leading to new efficiencies, troves of useful data, and safer operations for public agencies and businesses. Here are some examples in the Northeast.

  • Utilities and Energy – One company used drones following the “bomb cyclone” storm of 2017, using thermal sensors to locate power line problems due to issues like fallen trees or broken poles. UAS is also used for detecting methane leaks in oil and gas production, monitoring pipelines, and inspecting wind and solar installations.
  • Manufacturing – The University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources partnered with a lumber mill to collect 3D models of chip and log stockpiles from the air, to quickly get estimates of volume without slowing down production. 
  • Climate Research – Drones are being used to study sea ice and coral reef health, using infrared imaging, LIDAR, and other instruments. One Columbia University researcher has developed soda-can-sized pods that collect ocean data. When ejected from the mother drone, the pod analyzes the atmosphere for temperature, water vapor, and pressure on its way down. When it falls into the ocean, it measures temperature and salinity at different depths. Researchers are also measuring air pollution from industrial smokestacks, gathering data at different altitudes to study how pollutants disperse.
  • Engineering and Construction – This business sector is a fast-growth one for UAS, for the efficiencies and added safety the technology brings to many operations: surveying, site monitoring, topographic and hydrographic maps, and inspections at heights.
  • Natural Resource Monitoring – UAVs are being used for detecting heat-stressed plants and the spread of algae in water bodies, monitoring rivers to predict flooding, identifying areas that are being illegally logged, and pinpointing where salt water is intruding on fresh. Massachusetts researchers used drones flying low above a whale to capture spray from the creature’s blowhole, then analyzed the collected DNA to assess the whale’s health.

Skyward: The Easiest Way to Access Airspace with LAANC

Interested in rolling out UAS for your company or scaling up your program? Get a free consultation.

LAANC Access in Skyward