Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability ( LAANC) is a collaboration between the FAA and private industry to streamline the approval process for operating drones in controlled airspace. LAANC directly supports UAS integration into the airspace, providing remote pilots access to controlled airspace at or below 400 ft. and gives Air Traffic Control visibility of where and when drones operate. This also allows ATC to communicate with drone pilots in real time.
LAANC has been available to Part 107 remote pilots nationwide since 2018 and is now available to recreational sUAS pilots. To use the system as a Part 107 remote pilot, you must hold a remote pilot certificate and register your drone with the FAA. To use the system as a recreational flyer, you must must also register your drone.
According to a FAA report, there are nearly 1.3 million registered drones in the United States, about 40% more unregistered drones, and 116,000 registered drone pilots. With these figures, it is pertinent that the FAA implements a more efficient and interactive way to approve access to controlled airspace drone operations. The previous method was to submit a request for a waiver to operate in Class B, C, D, or E airspace via the FAADroneZone website, which could take anywhere from one week to several months to be approved.
LAANC facilitates sharing of airspace data between the FAA and approved UAS Service Suppliers. Drone operators/pilots can access LAANC through desktop or mobile applications provided by the UAS Service Suppliers. With an approved app, pilots will typically be able to receive instant approval to operate in the requested airspace unless the altitude of operation is greater than what has been set for the area.
Private companies approved by the FAA to provide LAANC Services can be found here.
As you can see from the image above, the map has a grid with different altitudes. As long as your drone operation is below 400 ft., you will likely get instant approval. But there is a chance that approval will not be granted. The LAANC service is checked against multiple airspace data sources in the FAA UAS Data Exchange, such as UAS Facility Maps and Special Use Airspace data. It also checks Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs). If there are any discrepancies, approval will not be granted.
It is important to note that if operations require you to operate above the altitude in the grid, you must be a certificated Part 107 remote pilot. In these cases, Part 107 applicants may apply up to 90 days in advance of a flight and the approval is coordinated manually through the FAA. LAANC is currently available at about 400 air traffic facilities that cover about 600 airports. To fly in controlled airspace near airports not offering LAANC, pilots may still apply for approval on the FAA’s DroneZone website. LAANC is strictly for obtaining approval for UAS flights in controlled airspace below 400 ft. AGL. It does not allow pilots to request operations that require other types of waivers, such as flying at night.
It is exciting for both certificated and recreational remote pilots to know that they can now receive instant approval for drone operations instead of waiting days or weeks before receiving the green light.
If you would like to become a Part 107 certificated remote pilot, Gleim Aviation can help. Our training solutions have been used by more than 10,000 remote pilots. The Gleim FAA Test Prep Online provides online UAS/UAV training, including nine lessons that ensure you will easily pass your Part 107 test and become an FAA certificated remote pilot.
Are you using LAANC to receive instant approvals? We’d like to hear about your success stories and ability to accept jobs more quickly, more frequently, and more safely!