The FAA just lately launched its very first spherical of UAS Facility Maps.
For these of us who’ve been ready for a smoother method to request airspace authorization, this can be a enormous deal.
The maps cowl 268 airports nationwide, which incorporates about 40,000 sq. miles of airspace. 85% of the areas lined within the maps present particular areas and altitudes the place drones could also be approved to fly safely.
The maps are step one in rolling out the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), a system for drone visitors management that the FAA hopes to have absolutely on-line by the top of 2017.
Above is a screenshot we took of the map of the airspace close to Nashville. You can see immediately that the airspace is class E, which is restricted and requires airspace authorization. More importantly, you possibly can see that the ceiling for flying is zero, which implies that you most likely gained’t have any luck with that authorization request if that’s the place you wish to fly.
Here’s one other instance, taken from the FAA web site, the place you possibly can see the ceiling heights develop as the realm grids fan out from the airport:
This first rollout is important, and represents a noteworthy step towards larger transparency about the data that goes into approving and rejecting airspace authorization requests.
Want to see the maps? See the FAA’s UAS map of the U.S. right here. To dive into a selected area, simply double click on on any of the little dots that seem on the map to zoom in.
Why Is This Rollout Such a Big Deal?
The purpose these maps are so essential for industrial drone pilots is as a result of they’re the primary actual device pilots have to assist them perceive—and expedite—the airspace authorization course of.
Up up to now, pilots have merely needed to submit the authorization paperwork utilizing the FAA’s Online Waiver Portal (which is confusingly named, because it receives each waiver requests and airspace authorization requests).
After pilots submit, they sit round and wait…typically for months. That is a very onerous state of affairs to be in for those who’re operating a small enterprise.
But now, with the use of these maps, a pilot can instantly get perception into the chance of getting approval. As famous above, for those who see that the ceiling for the realm you wish to fly in is zero, properly, you most likely shouldn’t waste your time submitting the authorization paperwork, or waste your consumer’s time ready round to see if it will get authorised.
And if if that you must fly above 100 ft for a sure mission, once more, you now know to not hassle asking for the authorization if the realm in query has a ceiling of 100.
It’s essential to notice that these maps don’t characterize a method to bypass the airspace authorization course of. That is, you possibly can’t merely take a look at the FAA UAS map, assess the airspace, and go fly.
“UAS Facility Maps present the utmost altitudes round airports the place the FAA could authorize half 107 UAS operations with out extra security evaluation.”
– FAA web site
That being mentioned, UAV pilots can actually use the data supplied within the maps with an expectation request knowledgeable by the data on the maps has a excessive chance of being authorised, and in addition of being authorised extra shortly.
How Was the LAANC Program Created?
The FAA has rejected a large 71 waiver requests and 854 airspace purposes.
– The Drone Girl
And they’ve certainly rejected much more for the reason that article quoted above was first printed again in October of 2016.
These rejections, and the delays pilots have skilled within the waiver and airspace authorization course of, are an enormous deal for the FAA.
To tackle the issue, the FAA chosen 12 firms to take part in a working group to try to discover a resolution. The finish outcome was the creation by the FAA of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program.
In its ultimate type, LAANC will enable an operator to plan a flight, submit that flight plan to the FAA, and obtain automated approval if the flight plan stays throughout the preselected airspace volumes. The FAA expects this automated approval system to be dwell by the top of the 12 months, but it surely’s potential operators gained’t have to attend till then to take benefit of the brand new system.
– Matt Fanelli, Senior Manager for Strategy at Skyward (one of the 12 firms that helped create the LAANC)
More maps are anticipated to be launched by the FAA over the following six months. Also, the FAA will quickly assist automated digital notifications and authorization based mostly on the data within the maps—though how quickly will not be but clear.
The grids that seem within the map will likely be up to date in the identical 56-day cycle that at the moment applies to different FAA airspace charts. Purportedly all facility maps will likely be printed by October 31, 2017.
Zacc Dukowitz is the Director of Marketing for UAV Coach. A author with skilled expertise in schooling expertise and digital advertising and marketing, Zacc is enthusiastic about reporting on the drone trade at a time when UAVs might help us dwell higher lives. Zacc additionally holds the rank of nidan in Aikido, a Japanese martial artwork, and is a broadly printed fiction author. Zacc has an MFA from the University of Florida and a BA from St. John’s College. Follow @zaccdukowitz or try zaccdukowitz.com to learn his work.