Is Waiver to Fly Drones in Controlled Airspace Inevitable?
There have been a lot of discussions lately about waivers to fly drones in controlled airspace. Some people believe that they are no longer necessary, while others think they are more important than ever.
In this blog post, we will explore both sides of the argument and conclude whether or not waiver requirements should still be in place.
Drones are becoming increasingly popular, both for personal and commercial use. One of the main reasons for this is that they are relatively simple and inexpensive to purchase and operate. In addition, drones can be used for a variety of purposes, including photography, videography, surveying, and delivery.
With the increased popularity of drones comes an increase in the number of drones being flown in controlled airspace. This poses a potential safety hazard, as drones are not always visible to pilots and can interfere with other aircraft.
For this reason, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires drones to obtain a waiver before flying in controlled airspace.
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According to the FAA, controlled airspace is "airspace where the FAA regulates aircraft operations for safety or efficiency reasons." This includes airports, heliports, military bases, and other areas where air traffic is high. To fly a drone in controlled airspace, you must obtain a waiver from the FAA.
The waiver process can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why some people believe that the waiver requirements should be eliminated. Others argue that waiving the requirement would be dangerous and could lead to more accidents.
Controlled airspace is classified as protecting aircraft from collisions. The airspace is classified according to the level of activity and the type of aircraft flying in the area. The four main types of controlled airspace are Class A, B, C, D, and E, with Class A being the busiest and Class G being the least busy. To fly a drone in controlled airspace, you must have a waiver from the FAA.
- Class A airspace is generally located around major airports. To obtain a waiver to fly in this airspace, you must apply to the FAA and demonstrate that your flight will not pose a safety hazard.
- Class B airspace surrounds smaller airports and typically has less air traffic than Class A airspace. Waivers are not required for Class B airspace, but drones must yield to all other aircraft.
- Class C airspace is typically found around large airports and has more restrictions than Class B airspace. To fly in Class C airspace, you must obtain a waiver from the FAA and have an aircraft that is equipped with a transponder.
- Class D airspace is typically found around small airports and has fewer restrictions than Class C airspace.
- Class E airspace is the most common type of controlled airspace. It is typically found around small airports and has fewer restrictions than Class D airspace.
- Class F airspace is similar to Class E airspace, but it has more restrictions. To fly in Class F airspace, you must obtain a waiver from the FAA.
- Class G airspace is the least restrictive type of controlled airspace. Therefore, the whole dynamic is an "upside-down pyramid" where the less busy airspace has more restrictions.
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The LAANC System
The FAA created the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system to streamline the waiver process. The LAANC system provides real-time authorization for drones to operate in controlled airspace.
To use the LAANC system, you must first apply to the FAA. Once your application is approved, you will be able to use the LAANC system to request authorization for your flights.
The LAANC system is available at select airports across the United States. If you want to fly in controlled airspace but do not have access to the LAANC system, you can still apply for a waiver from the FAA.
What makes the LAANC system more convenient is that waiver applications can take weeks or even months to process. With the LAANC system, you can receive authorization for your flight in a matter of days.
What does it mean for airspace waivers?
To make a LAANC request, apps like Airmap and Kittyhawk can be used, which help users understand what airspace they are in and if a waiver is required. The LAANC system has overall made it easier for drones to obtain authorization to fly in controlled airspace.
LAANC is now applicable to more airports, with waiver requests no longer needed for those who have access to the system. The LAANC system has made it easier for drones to obtain authorization to fly in controlled airspace. However, some argue that the waiver process should be eliminated.
Others believe that waiver requirements are necessary to ensure safety. The FAA is still working out the kinks of the new system, so time will tell what the future of waivers looks like. In the meantime, drone pilots should take advantage of the LAANC system and use it to request flight authorization.
Drawbacks of the LAANC system
The LAANC system is not without its flaws. One major drawback is that it is only available at select airports. This means that if you want to fly in controlled airspace but do not have access to the LAANC system, you will still need to apply for a waiver from the FAA.
Another drawback of the LAANC system is that it is only available for flights under 400 feet. This may be sufficient for some applications but does not allow drones to take advantage of their full potential.
For example, if you want to use a drone for photography or videography, you will need to obtain a waiver from the FAA to fly above 400 feet.
Requesting an airspace waiver in the absence of LAANC
Imagine you are flying near an air traffic control facility that falls in the 19% that has not fallen within the LAANC system. In this case, you will have to go through the waiver application process to fly your drone within controlled airspace. The waiver application process is not as simple as it sounds and can take weeks or even months to get approved.
The first step is to fill out an online form which you can find on the FAA's website. Once you have filled out the form, you will need to submit it along with any supporting documentation. The FAA will then review your application and determine whether or not you are eligible for a waiver.
If your waiver request is approved, you will be able to fly your drone in controlled airspace. However, you will need to adhere to any conditions that are imposed on your waiver. For example, you may be required to fly during daytime hours or stay a certain distance away from airports.
The waiver process can be time-consuming and complicated, but it is the only way to fly drones in controlled airspace in the absence of LAANC. Drone pilots should familiarize themselves with the waiver process and make sure they are prepared before attempting to fly in controlled airspace.
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Therefore, the LAANC system is beneficial to those who can utilize it, but the waiver process is essential and should not be eliminated. The FAA is continuing to work on the LAANC system, and hopefully, the waiver process will no longer be necessary for time. In the meantime, drone pilots should use the LAANC system to request flight authorization whenever possible.
This concludes our blog post about waiver requirements to fly drones in controlled airspace. We hope you found this information helpful and that it will help you make informed decisions when flying your drone.