Access to airspace around airports is restricted to commercial pilots unless a waiver is obtained from the FAA, which can take up to 90 days. 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 these restricted areas. Skyward is an FAA-approved airspace vendor, meaning 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 ATC.
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, flight isn’t allowed. 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 at every airport in the U.S. Skyward will continue to update our Airspace Map as the FAA rolls out more airports. The list of facility maps is in the UAS Facility Maps section of the User Guide. Currently LAANC access is available only on the Skyward cloud application. It is not yet available via the SkywardIO mobile app.
To request flight approval in a facility map, create an operation in Skyward and import an area of operation (AOP) from the map. A snapshot of your area of operation will display on the operations page, with the facility map lines showing where the altitude limits change in your AOP. The table under the map lists this information. In the example below, you can see what happens when an AOP contains an area with an altitude limit of zero. No LAANC request can be made when an included grid has a zero altitude.
To submit an AOP for automated approval, the following conditions must be met:
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.
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.
And now the Operations page shows that you have been granted approval.