Are you wondering if how close to an airport can you fly a drone? Then you come to the right place; this guide will help you determine that.
Commercial and recreational operators are allowed to fly within the airport’s vicinity, but only if the FAA has authorized them via the LAANC system or FAA DroneZone. Drone pilots do not need permission to fly beyond predetermined limits.
To be clear, which FAA ruling does it make regarding flying near airports? How do you obtain the authorization required to fly within controlled airspace? Continue reading for more information.
Introduction to controlled airspace
Controlled airspace is the area in which air traffic control (ATC) services are offered. This is most common near airports. The size and shape control airspace depends on how much air traffic the airport receives and the orientation of its runway and other facilities. It is possible that active ATC is not available at all airports. This also depends on the volume and frequency of air traffic.
No matter the availability of ATC services at exactly the time of flight, any drone flight within a controlled aviation space is prohibited by default without approval.
FAA imposed this restriction to prevent any encounters between drones or manned aircraft. However, drone sightings have increased near airports. This has prompted the FAA to impose stricter drone flight restrictions.
Airports in Controlled Airspace
Before flying near airports, drone operators must have airspace authorization. The authorizations are limited in altitude and may also include operational provisions. You can find information about controlled airspace and other restrictions on the B4UFLY app.
Automated Authorizations through LAANC
Part 107 remote pilots or recreational flyers can receive an airspace authorization from a LAANC supplier for altitudes lower than the UAS Facility Map grid posted altitudes.
How to request authorization from LAANC:
Although the exact steps and commands required to request LAANC authorization might differ from one software to the next, the essence of each step should remain similar. Open the software on your computer or the mobile app equivalent, and ensure a data connection. Also, make sure your GPS is activated.
1. Provide the location of your drone flight
The app should display a map of where you are at the moment when you open it. You can choose to use your current location or the search function for a specific address. Take note that this will only be a point location.
2. Check the restrictions on flights to your selected location
The app will now show you whether your location is in controlled airspace. You can then cancel the LAANC request if there aren’t any flight restrictions at your location.
3. Specify if your flight is under Part 107, or recreational rules
You must decide whether you want to fly as a Part 107-licensed drone pilot or a recreational drone operator. These factors may impact the conditions under which you will receive approval.
4. Define the extent of your planned drone flight
Then, you will need to choose the area where your drone will fly. The way this is done will vary depending on the software.
Airhawk offers three options for setting this option: an ellipsoid, a box tool, or a freeform drawing. You may be required to select sections from a pre-defined grid in other software. You must specify an area that you will limit the drone flight mission’s scope.
5. Provide flight mission details
After choosing an area, you will need to specify the date and time for which you want to fly a drone. You can also choose “right now”, but you will still need to indicate duration.
6. Provide your personal details
The next step is to enter your name, contact information, make and model of the drone, and the registration number. The FAA will be able to reach you via the phone number you provide. You will receive the text message to approve via the same number.
7. Go through a pre-flight checklist
A series of yes/no questions will be asked, mostly to help you perform a pre-flight inspection on your drone. If you don’t know how to check if your drone is fit to fly, the items in this checklist would be a good guide to get you started.
8. Check the weather forecast (optional)
Some apps will give you a weather forecast for the date and time you provide before closing your application. Details should include wind speed and temperature as well as visibility and precipitation. Before you submit your formal request, this is a great opportunity to verify if it’s a safe time to fly.
9. Review the details of your application
You will see a summary of all the information you have entered before clicking the “submit” button. This is your final chance to review it and correct any mistakes.
10. Submit your application
Approval for your request should be within a few minutes or seconds. An SMS message will be sent to you with a confirmation number and the conditions under which your flight is allowed. Many apps allow you to download a PDF version of the authorization document. You can either keep it for your records or print it.
Authorizations Through DroneZone
If any of these apply, you should use DroneZone for an airspace authorization request.
You will only fly in controlled airspace areas and not served by LAANC (the red grids in the UAS Facility Maps).
If you are flying under Part 107 and wish to fly in a grid area of zero or higher than a UAS Facility map grid value,
You are eligible for a Part 107 waiver and wish to fly in controlled airspace with the waiver.
Fly at Fixed Sites
Many recreational flyer-fixed sites have signed agreements with the FAA to fly in controlled airspace at specific altitudes. Many agreements also include operational provisions. For more information about this location, contact the operator of the fixed site.
Public Aircraft Operations
The FAA can issue special permissions to fly at a designated area near an airport to public entities (law enforcement agencies or government agencies). Find out more about government drone operations and law enforcement.
Read also: Drone Registration (2021)
Airports in Uncontrolled Airspace
Prior authorization is not required for flights within uncontrolled airspace, which are less than 400 feet above the ground. Remote pilots and recreational flyers should be aware of traffic patterns, takeoff, and landing areas when flying in these areas.
The drone cannot interfere with airport operations and must yield the right-of-way for all other aircraft. Our B4UFLY app provides information about flying restrictions and uncontrolled airspace.
That’s it. You should note that you must still follow the normal flight rules, even if your LAANC authorization is granted. This includes the rule of always giving way to manned aircraft. Also, be aware of the altitude ceilings for each type of controlled airspace.
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