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LAANC Allows Some Drone Pilots to Fly at Night – Sort Of

LAANC Allows Some Drone Pilots to Fly at Night – Sort Of

The FAA has just announced the ability to get approval to fly at night in controlled airspace through the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system.

Don’t get all excited before you dive into the details. COA and recreational flyers are not covered and excluded from this new rule that only applies to Part 107 pilots.

Currently, the LAANC system only allows for the approval of daytime authorizations. If you attempt to apply to fly at night, you will be blocked from doing so. In the fall of 2021, the LAANC capability will expand to allow night authorization requests.

The following is guidance for requests between April 21, and the Fall of 2021.

Night authorizations at or below the approved altitude in the UAS Facility Maps will consist of two separate authorizations that combined, allow you to fly at night:

National Authorization (PDF) that extends your daytime authorization to allow night time operations for the date indicated on the LAANC authorization.

  • You do not have to apply for the National Authorization, you can access it here (PDF).
  • The National Authorization is effective only in conjunction with LAANC issued authorizations at or below the Unmanned Aircraft System Facility Map (UASFM) values of the same calendar day.
  • Night time operations that carry over from one calendar day to the next will require separate LAANC daytime authorizations each calendar day.

Operational Example

If you wish to fly at 11 PM on April 25:

  • On April 25, during daylight hours submit an automated authorization approval request.

    You can apply for an automated authorization up to 90 days in advance of your operation.

  • Approved daytime authorization + the National Authorization = an approved night time authorization for operations at or below the designated altitude in the UAS Facility Map.

If you wish to fly at 3 AM on May 15:

  • Before you fly submit an automated authorization approval request to fly during daylight hours on May 15.
  • Approved daytime authorization + the National Authorization = an approved night time authorization for operations at or below the designated altitude in the UAS Facility Map.

Further coordination requests for night operations must be submitted via the FAA Drone Zone website.

About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

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