Access to Controlled Airspaces Advances
Drone and Overall Aviation Safety
WASHINGTON—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today made it easier for drone pilots to quickly and safely access controlled airspace by adding 133 air traffic facilities to the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system. LAANC is an automated application and approval system for drone pilots requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace.
As the FAA continues to modernize the national airspace to accommodate more users, the agency made LAANC accessible for 726 airports and 537 facilities, covering 81 percent of eligible airspace.
This expansion is based on feedback from the drone community. LAANC is a collaboration between the FAA and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems industry which directly supports the safe integration of drones into the nation’s airspace. The service is accessible to all pilots who operate under the FAA’s small drone rule (PDF).
For updates to LAANC capabilities, visit our website.
The FAA UAS Data Exchange is an innovative, collaborative approach between government and private industry facilitating the sharing of airspace data between the two parties.
Under the FAA UAS Data Exchange umbrella, the agency will support multiple partnerships, the first of which is the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC).
What is LAANC?
LAANC is the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, a collaboration between FAA and Industry. It directly supports UAS integration into the airspace.
- Drone pilots with access to controlled airspace at or below 400 feet.
- Awareness of where pilots can and cannot fly.
- Air Traffic Professionals with visibility into where and when drones are operating.
Through the UAS Data Exchange, the capability facilitates the sharing of airspace data between the FAA and companies approved by the FAA to provide LAANC services. The companies are known as UAS Service Suppliers — and the desktop applications and mobile apps to utilize the LAANC capability are provided by the UAS Service Suppliers (USS).
How does it work?
LAANC automates the application and approval process for airspace authorizations. Through automated applications developed by an FAA Approved UAS Service Suppliers (USS) pilots apply for an airspace authorization.
Requests are checked against multiple airspace data sources in the FAA UAS Data Exchange such as UAS Facility Maps, Special Use Airspace data, Airports and Airspace Classes, as well as Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs). If approved, pilots can receive their authorization in near-real time.
Unless specifically requested in an authorization, drone pilots do not need to notify the tower before they fly.
LAANC provides airspace authorizations only. Pilots must still check NOTAMs, weather conditions, and abide by all airspace restrictions.
How and when can drone pilots use LAANC?
Drone pilots planning to fly under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports must receive an airspace authorization from the FAA before they fly.
The LAANC capability is available to pilots operating under the Small UAS Rule Part 107, or under the exception for Recreational Flyers.
Access to the capability is provided through one of the FAA approved UAS Service Suppliers listed below. There are two ways to use LAANC:
- To receive a near real-time authorization for operations under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports. (available to Part 107 Pilots and Recreational Flyers)
- To submit a “further coordination request” if you need to fly above the designated altitude ceiling in a UAS Facility Map, up to 400 feet. Applicants may apply up to 90 days in advance of a flight and the approval is coordinated manually through the FAA. (available to Part 107 pilots only)