As UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) pilots, we have defined regulations for what airspace we can and cannot fly into. With all the general and commercial aviation traffic, understanding the airspace classes is extremely important when becoming a drone pilot.
Class G Airspace
Class G Airspace is known as uncontrolled airspace. Drones are allowed to fly here as long as they are under 400 feet, in visual line of sight, and registered.
Flying in uncontrolled airspace requires no approval, you can simply go out and launch your drone with no strings attached.
Class E Airspace
In most areas of the United States, class E airspace extends from 1,200 feet (370 m) above ground level (AGL) up to but not including 18,000 feet (5,500 m)
Class D Airspace
Class D airspace is typically established around any airport with a functioning control tower, but that does not see significant IFR approaches which would make Class B or C more appropriate.
Class C Airspace
Class C airspace is defined around airports of moderate importance; airports with regular commercial passenger jet service of 100 passengers per flight or more are typically Class C.
Class B Airspace (The B Stands for Busy)
Class B airspace is defined around key airport traffic areas, usually airspace surrounding the busiest airports in the US according to the number of IFR operations and passengers served.
Class A Airspace
Class A airspace extends from 18,000 feet (5,500 m) mean sea level MSL to FL600 (approximately 60,000 feet (18,000 m) MSL) throughout the contiguous United States and Alaska.
Can I fly
my drone in controlled airspace?
The short answer is yes, however you must first receive permission to fly there. Not long ago, this was very difficult, and it could take up to 90 days to receive permission. Nowadays, permission can be granted almost instantly. How? Through a system called LAANC.
What does LAANC do?
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.
When can I 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.https://www.faa.gov/uas/programs_partnerships/data_exchange/
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)
Is it available everywhere?
LAANC is available at approximately 400 air traffic facilities covering about 600 airports. If you want to fly in controlled airspace near airports not offering LAANC, you can use the manual process to apply forhttps://www.faa.gov/uas/programs_partnerships/data_exchange/
LAANC is in beta and seeks to test its capability nationwide; the results will inform future expansions of the capability. Updates and expansions to LAANC will be announced here.
Sounds good! How do I use LAANC?
This concludes this lesson on airspace, I hope you all have learned something new. See our next lesson on weather!