Getting authorized to fly drones in regulated airspace in the western U.S. just got a lot easier. With the right software platform, pilots can now access the FAA’s LAANC (Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability) in the Western North region. The new program allows Part 107 drone pilots to obtain permissions to fly in controlled airspace in seconds, a huge advance over manual authorizations, which often take months.
Unmanned aircraft operators who use Skyward’s platform are among the few who can take advantage of this digital timesaver. We’re especially pumped about this phase of LAANC expansion, since it includes airspace near Skyward HQ in Portland, along with Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and nearly 100 smaller air markets. And we’re excited to see how UAV pilots from Nome, Alaska to Bryce Canyon, Utah will help businesses, utilities, and agencies improve operations through LAANC capability.
Here are the main things to know, from where it’s available, to how it works, to some examples of innovative drone uses in the region.
LAANC now live in Western North region
Here’s the full list of airspace covered in the latest rollout of LAANC. We also have a downloadable list of the complete LAANC rollout schedule.
Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZAN)
- Aniak Airport (ANI), Aniak, AK
- Wiley Post–Will Rogers Memorial Airport (BRW), Barrow, AK
- Bettles Airport (BTT), Bettles, AK
- Cold Bay Airport (CDB), Cold Bay, AK
- Merle K. (Mudhole) Smith Airport (CDV), Cordova, AK
- Deadhorse Airport (SCC), Prudhoe Bay, AK
- Dillingham Airport (DLG), Dillingham, AK
- Edward G. Pitka Sr. Airport (GAL), Galena, AK
- Gulkana Airport (GKN), Glennallen, AK
- Homer Airport (HOM), Homer, AK
- Iliamna Airport (ILI), Iliamna, AK
- Ketchikan International Airport (KTN), Ketchikan, AK
- Ralph Wien Memorial Airport (OTZ), Kotzebue, AK
- McGrath Airport (MCG), McGrath, AK
- Nome Airport (OME), Nome, AK
- Northway Airport (ORT), Northway, AK
- St. Mary’s Airport (KSM), St Mary’s, AK
- Talkeetna Airport (TKA), Talkeetna, AK
- Ralph M. Calhoun Memorial Airport (TAL), Tanana, AK
- Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport (SIT), Sitka, AK
- Unalakleet Airport (UNK), Unalakleet, AK
- Yakutat Airport (YAK), Yakutat, AK
- Fort Yukon Airport (FYU), Fort Yukon, AK
- Fairbanks International Airport (FAI), Fairbanks, AK
- Juneau International Airport (JNU), Juneau, AK
- Merrill Field (MRI), Anchorage, AK (already live)
- Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Anchorage, AK (already live)
- Lake Hood Seaplane Base (LHD), Anchorage, AK (already live)
Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZDV)
- Colorado Plains Regional Airport (AKO), Akron, CO
- San Luis Valley Regional Airport (ALS), Alamosa, CO
- Cortez Municipal Airport (CEZ), Cortez, CO
- Durango–La Plata County Airport (DRO), Durango, CO
- Gunnison–Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC), Gunnison, CO
- Yampa Valley Airport (HDN), Hayden, CO
- Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ), Montrose, CO
- Garfield County Regional Airport (RIL), Rifle, CO
- Perry Stokes Airport (TAD), Trinidad, CO
- Goodland Municipal Airport (GLD), Goodland, KS
- Ainsworth Regional Airport (ANW), Ainsworth, NE
- Chadron Municipal Airport (CDR), Chadron, NE
- McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport (MCK), McCook, NE
- North Platte Regional Airport (LBF), North Platte, NE
- Western Nebraska Regional Airport (BFF), Scottsbluff, NE
- Sidney Municipal Airport/Lloyd W. Carr Field (SNY), Sidney, NE
- Miller Field (VTN), Valentine, NE
- Laramie Regional Airport (LAR), Laramie, WY
- Rawlins Municipal Airport (RWL), Rawlins, WY
- Northern Colorado Regional Airport (FNL), Loveland, CO
- Pueblo Memorial Airport (PUB), Pueblo, CO
- Centennial Airport (APA), Englewood, CO
- Aspen–Pitkin County Airport (ASE), Aspen, CO
- Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (BJC), Broomfield, CO
- Casper–Natrona County International Airport (CPR), Casper, WY
- Colorado Springs Airport (COS), Colorado Springs, CO
- Denver International Airport (DEN), Denver, CO
Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZSE)
- Arcata–Eureka Airport (ACV), McKinleyville, CA
- Del Norte County Airport (CEC), Crescent City, CA
- Astoria Regional Airport (AST), Warrenton, OR
- Newport Municipal Airport (ONP), Newport, OR
- Bowerman Airport (HQM), Hoquiam, WA
- Pullman–Moscow Regional Airport (PUW), Pullman, WA
- Pangborn Memorial Airport (EAT), Pangborn Memorial Airport Wenatchee, WA
- Bremerton National Airport (PWT), Bremerton, WA
- Spokane International Airport (GEG), Spokane, WA
- Coeur d’Alene Airport (COE), Hayden, ID
- Deer Park Airport (DEW), Deer Park, WA
- Grant County International Airport (MWH), Moses Lake, WA
- Ephrata Municipal Airport (EPH), Ephrata, WA
- Boeing Field (BFI), Seattle, WA
- Eugene Airport (EUG), Eugene, OR
- Hillsboro Airport (HIO), Hillsboro, OR
- Paine Field (PAE), Everett, WA
- Tri-Cities Airport (PSC), Pasco, WA
- Portland International Airport (PDX), Portland, OR
- Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Seattle, WA
Salt Lake Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLC)
- Bert Mooney Airport (BTM), Butte, MT
- Cut Bank Municipal Airport (CTB), Cut Bank, MT
- Dillon Airport (DLN), Dillon, MT
- Glasgow Airport (GGW), Glasgow, MT
- Havre City–County Airport (HVR), Havre, MT
- Lewistown Municipal Airport (LWT), Lewistown, MT
- Miles City Airport (MLS), Miles City, MT
- Sloulin Field International Airport (ISN), Williston, ND
- Battle Mountain Airport (BAM), Battle Mountain, NV
- Baker City Municipal Airport (BKE), Baker City, OR
- Burns Municipal Airport (BNO), Burns, OR
- Bryce Canyon Airport (BCE), Bryce Canyon, UT
- Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC), Cedar City, UT
- Vernal Regional Airport (VEL), Vernal, UT
- Yellowstone Regional Airport (COD), Cody, WY
- Kemmerer Municipal Airport (EMM), Kemmerer, WY
- Riverton Regional Airport (RIW), Riverton, WY
- Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport (RKS), Rock Springs, WY
- Sheridan County Airport (SHR), Sheridan, WY
- Worland Municipal Airport (WRL), Worland, WY
- Boise Airport (BOI), Boise, ID
- Mission Field Airport (LVM), Livingston, MT
- Great Falls International Airport (GTF), Great Falls, MT
- Helena Regional Airport (HLN), Helena, MT
- Magic Valley Regional Airport (TWF), Twin Falls, ID
- Burley Municipal Airport (BYI), Burley, ID
- Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), Billings, MT
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Salt Lake City, UT
Video: How to access LAANC in Skyward
5 Things to Know About LAANC in the Western North
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 (Oregon, Washington, northernmost California, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Nebraska, North Dakota, portions of Kansas and Alaska).
- LAANC went live on May 24, 2018 for the UAS facilities managed by four air route traffic control centers (ARTCs): Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZAN), Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZDV), Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZSE), and Salt Lake Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLC).
- 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, unfortunately.
- The FAA could shift go-live dates for future phases. The official list of ATCs with live LAANC capability is on the agency’s site, but things are changing quickly and the list may not be current.
- Make sure your aircraft is registered and your flight plan is in compliance with state ordinances and local laws put in place to protect privacy, public safety, and key resources. Regulations vary by state. In Oregon, public agencies that use drones have to register aircraft with the state department of aviation or risk a $10,000 fine. In Colorado, many ski resorts have adopted no-fly zones, and many states have outlawed drone use for hunting. Do your homework before you fly.
- What should you do to be sure you’re in compliance with the rules and really authorized to fly? 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 dozens or thousands of inquiries. DO 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.)
Commercial Uses of Drones in the Western North U.S.
UAS is being adopted for countless uses in public agencies and private enterprise across FAA’s Western North region. Here are examples of drone systems at work for the everyday and the unusual.
- Utilities and Energy – Northern California energy giant PG&E is testing drones for methane gas leak detection, location of underground assets and infrastructure inspections. During and after the Sonoma County fires, the utility was able to monitor threats to facilities and assess damage far more quickly using airborne cameras. This helped restore power and gas faster after the crisis was over, while keeping field workers safer.
- Precision Farming – Agriculture is one of the fastest-growing business sectors for drone adoption. Nebraska corn farmers are using unmanned aircraft for irrigation management, tractor guidance, soil and yield mapping and determining the where, when and how much of fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide applications.
- Natural Resource Monitoring – Washington State’s Department of Natural Resources is monitoring landslide risks and mapping forests with a growing fleet of UAVs. Managers can estimate how many trees are in a mapped site, derive metrics about height and canopy, and report the data to foresters to determine needs.
- First Responders – UAS use is becoming standard practice in search-and-rescue, surveillance during fires, and law enforcement work like reconstructing crime scenes. One Nevada company is working through the permit process to make drone deliveries of defibrillators, to get help to 911 callers far faster than an ambulance can.
- More – Engineering and construction,media, real estate and mining are other business sectors where drones are in wide use, bringing efficiencies, improved safety or new capabilities to site surveys, volumetric estimates, marketing videos, news collection, and inspections in dangerous areas–heights, bridges, highway underpasses.
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.
Photo credit: Tilikum Crossing in Downtown Portland by Craig Anthony Perkins via Flickr