On July 23, the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) became available to recreational UAS operators. LAANC is an important resource for AMA members who wish to fly in controlled airspace near airports. We are writing to provide you with information about LAANC, including an overview of the various service providers you can choose from, in order to receive near real-time authorizations to fly in certain airspace.
Why is LAANC relevant to AMA members?
Under the FAA bill that Congress passed last year, all model aircraft and drone operations within controlled airspace (Classes B, C, D and E) must be authorized by the FAA. For members operating at AMA club flying sites with established Letters of Agreement, the Letter of Agreement serves as your authorization.
When flying in controlled airspace, but outside of AMA club locations, all recreational operations, including those by AMA members, need the FAA’s approval. This is where LAANC comes in. LAANC makes it easy to apply for, and quickly receive, approval to fly. This can be done through a mobile app or desktop computer.
What is LAANC?
LAANC is an automated service to apply for, and quickly receive, approval from the FAA to fly outside of AMA club locations while in controlled airspace. LAANC is accessible through companies called service suppliers, who are working with the FAA to establish different mobile apps and online portals to access LAANC.
For example, say you want to fly within four miles of an airport, outside of an AMA club location. With LAANC, you can open an app, make a request and receive approval in near-real time – typically 60 to 90 seconds. It is important to note that LAANC can only be used for daylight operations at or below 400 feet.
How do I use LAANC?
LAANC is essentially the backend system that automates requests and authorizations to fly in controlled airspace near airports. To access LAANC, you need to sign up with a service provider – one of the several companies that has developed the mobile and online portals that interface with LAANC. While the basic service that each company offers is the same, there are pros and cons to each. You need to determine which company works best for you.
What areas does LAANC cover?
LAANC covers most controlled airspace, but not all. It is currently available at approximately 400 air traffic facilities covering about 600 airports. For a full list of air traffic facilities participating in LAANC, visit the FAA website here. If you want to fly in controlled airspace where LAANC is not offered, you must do so at a flying site with an LOA. A manual application process for an airspace authorization exists through the FAA’s DroneZone, but this is available only for Part 107 operators at this time. The FAA expects the DroneZone to be available for recreational operators later this year.