Flying commercial drones in busy southeastern U.S. airspace just got easier. July 19 marks the go-live date for the FAA’s LAANC (Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability) program in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Part 107 drone pilots can now gain authorization to fly in controlled airspace instantly instead of relying on the manual permitting process, which can take months.
UAS operators who use Skyward’s platform can leverage this capability. The LAANC expansion includes airspace in Atlanta (home to the world’s busiest airport), Jacksonville, Orlando, Columbia, Nashville, Montgomery, Jackson, San Jose (PR), Little Rock, and over 50 smaller air markets.
Here are the key things to know, from where LAANC is available, to how it works, to some examples of how southeastern businesses, farms, utilities, and government agencies are using drones to streamline and improve operations.
LAANC Going Live in Eastern South Region
Here’s the full list of airspace covered in the latest rollout of LAANC.
Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZJX)
- Bacon County Airport (AMG), Alma, GA
- Waycross–Ware County Airport (AYS), Waycross, GA
- Brunswick Golden Isles Airport (BQK), Brunswick, GA
- Malcolm McKinnon Airport (SSI), Saint Simons Island, GA
Heart of Georgia Regional Airport (EZM), Eastman, GA
- Florence Regional Airport (FLO), Florence, SC
- Orlando Executive Airport (ORL), Orlando, FL
- Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), Columbia, SC
- Charleston International Airport (CHS), North Charleston, SC
- Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), Daytona Beach, FL
- Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Jacksonville, FL
- Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR), Myrtle Beach, SC
- Pensacola International Airport (PNS), Pensacola, FL
- Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), Savannah, GA
- Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), Sanford, FL
- Tallahassee International Airport (TLH), Tallahassee, FL
- Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando, FL
Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZMA)
- Treasure Coast International Airport (FPR), Fort Pierce, FL
- Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, FL
- St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport (PIE), Clearwater, FL
- Miami Executive Airport (TMB), Miami, FL
- Vero Beach Regional Airport (VRB), Vero Beach, FL
- Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), Miami, FL
- Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), Fort Myers, FL
- Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Bradenton, FL
- Miami International Airport (MIA), Miami, FL (already Live)
- Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport (TNT), Ochopee, FL (already live)
- Tampa International Airport (TPA), Tampa, FL
Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZME)
- Bowling Green–Warren County Regional Airport (BWG), Bowling Green, KY
- Dyersburg Regional Airport (DYR), Dyersburg, TN
- Memorial Field Airport (HOT), Hot Springs, AR
- Boone County Airport (HRO), Harrison, AR
- Jonesboro Municipal Airport (JBR), Jonesboro, AR
- Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL), Muscle Shoals, AL
- Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM), Fort Smith, AR
- Bentonville Municipal Airport (VBT), Bentonville, AR
- Nashville International Airport (BNA), Nashville, TN
- Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Huntsville, AL
- Jackson–Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport (JAN), Jackson, MS
- Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT), Little Rock, AR
- Pine Bluff Regional Airport – Grider Field (PBF), Pine Bluff, AR
- Memphis International Airport (MEM), Memphis, TN
San Juan Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZSU)
- Eugenio María de Hostos Airport (MAZ), Mayagüez, PR
- Mercedita Airport (PSE), Ponce, PR
- San Jose Airport (SJU), San Jose, PR
Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZTL)
- Crossville Memorial Airport (CSV), Crossville, TN
- Augusta Regional Airport (AGS), Augusta, GA
- Columbus Airport (CSG), Columbus, GA
- Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM), Montgomery, AL
- DeKalb–Peachtree Airport (PDK), Atlanta, GA
- Tri-Cities Airport (TRI), Blountville, TN
- Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), Asheville, NC
- Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), Birmingham, AL
- Anniston Regional Airport (ANB), Anniston, AL
- Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA), Chattanooga, TN
- Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO), Greensboro, NC
- Greenville–Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), Greer, SC
- Anderson Regional Airport (AND), Anderson, SC
- Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport (SPA), Spartanburg, SC
- McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), Knoxville, TN
- Knoxville Downtown Island Airport (DKX), Knoxville, TN
- Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Atlanta, GA
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Charlotte, NC
Video: How to Access LAANC in Skyward
5 Pointers on Using LAANC in the Eastern South
Here are the five main things to know about the newest regional rollout of real-time access to controlled airspace, along with a few examples of how UAS is being adopted in this zone.
- LAANC goes live on July 19, 2018 for the UAS facilities managed by five air route traffic control centers: Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZJX), Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZMA), Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZME), San Juan Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZSU), and Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZTL).
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking that every airport in the region is participating. ATCs managed by private contractors are not included in this rollout.
- UAV regulations put in place to protect privacy, public safety, and key resources do vary by state. Make sure your aircraft is registered, your flight plan is in compliance with both state and local laws, and you’re fully licensed. In North Carolina, operators have to pass a UAS knowledge test prior to flying. Tennessee pilots commit a crime if they fly in a fireworks zone or over ticketed events. In Florida, it’s illegal to take pictures from the air of a person or their property without permission, fly near cell towers or power grid facilities, or approach many industrial sites.
- 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.)
- LAANC will be expanded to two more regions this year, the Eastern North (August 16) and Central North (September 13). This will complete the waved 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 aiding public agencies and private enterprise across FAA’s Eastern South region to work smarter. Here are some examples.
- Engineering and Construction – Goldman Sachs predicts this business sector will be an $11.2B market for drones by 2020. The uses span many aspects of the industry, such as 3D modeling, monitoring site progress, producing marketing videos, mapping stockpiles, and performing inspections in dangerous areas–heights, bridges, highway underpasses. The efficiencies are highly attractive: Topographic surveys are being performed six times faster at far lower cost.
- Storm Damage Assessment – Insurers and utilities fly drones to assess damage to power lines, collect images for claims, and get life back to normal more quickly following natural disasters like hurricanes.
- First Responders – Lifeguards can get flotation devices dropped to them to aid in ocean rescues, as seen in this cool video from Australia.
- Real Estate – Grainy satellite overhead views are a thing of the past. Drone photography makes possible cost-effective aerial shots and fly-through video tours in ultra HD, to show properties in their best light.
- Precision Farming – Farmers use unmanned systems to get better resolution views from the air and do it far more often than they would using expensive manned aircraft. They conduct stand counts following big storms, determine what inputs are needed, and monitor yield potential. They also use drone-mounted thermal sensors to pinpoint areas needing more irrigation.
- Natural Resource Monitoring – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a well-established UAS program, putting the technology to use to monitor invasive plants and animals, map coastal erosion, conduct wildlife population counts, and look for illegal activity on public lands.
Skyward: The Easiest Way to Access Airspace with LAANC
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