The FAAs Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) software solution have rolled out and I’ve finally had a chance to test it with several different providers.
LAANC allows UAS pilots to get automated approvals to fly in the previously off-limits airspace. LAANC requests are checked against airspace data in the FAA UAS Data Exchange such as temporary flight restrictions, NOTAMS and the UAS Facility Maps. If approved, pilots receive their authorization in near-real time.
According to the FAA the approved service providers for LAANC are:
- Harris Corporation
- Project Wing
- Thales Group
Rather than start a debate about why I didn’t favor one or another provider, let me just share with you my favorite.
I found that overall, Skyward.io was easy to use once you were set up and I really enjoyed the final Notice of Authorization letter the system generates after approval.
Approval to fly under controlled airspace was near instantaneous. You can watch this video of how the process works.
Access to Skyward is free and while it can take time to initially set up your account and answer profile questions, the process makes it worth the end for quick approvals.
When I registered I was prompted for the number of flight hours and FAA certificates I hold. I’m not certain if more experience and ratings make the process easier or not.
Here is an example of how to plan a flight once your profile is created.
I’m using my home airport, Raleigh-Durham International (KRDU).
When you click on a section of the map you can see what the maximum ceiling is in that area.
You then go into Flight Area and draw the area you are seeking permission for. Name and save that area.
When you plan your flight and select your previously defined flight area you get a lot of good and important information on the screen.
Once you submit your request I typically get an approval in 7-seconds. The approval can be easily printed and saved for your records.
Feedback from my contacts at ATC says that LAANC authorizations are running smoothly.
There is at least an app for IOS.
As I mentioned, the Skyward account seemed to be much easier to set up in advance using a computer screen. This will make the IOS app use much wasier when you need it.