LAANC night flying requests are now able to be made by recreational drone pilots — not just commercial drone pilots.
The Federal Aviation Administration in fall 2021 made it possible for certified drone pilots to obtain near real-time authorizations to fly at night through FAA-approved providers of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) services. In tandem with the LAANC night flying news, the FAA announced that it had divided the airspace into smaller segments, which gave drone pilots more places to fly. That was a big win — especially in making it easier to legally fly commercial drones at night. But the fall 2021 changes didn’t apply to hobby drone pilots.
That changes this week, as LAANC now accepts night authorization requests from recreational flyers, too.
As of Feb. 20, 2023, recreational flyers may apply for near real-time airspace authorizations to operate at night through LAANC. That said, LAANC night flying still demands that recreational flyers meet the requirements of the Exception for Limited Operations of Unmanned Aircraft. They must also follow safety guidelines of FAA-recognized Community Based Organizations (CBOs).
FAA-recognized CBOs include:
- Academy of Model Aeronautics
- First Person View Freedom Coalition
- Flite Test Community Association
- STEM+C Inc.
LAANC was initially created for drone pilots requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace that wasn’t necessarily high-risk, such as in some areas around airports. It has since extended to other low risk flights, such as flying at night. In fact, some industry advocates perceive night flying as safer because there’s no risk of sun in your eyes, and it’s easy to spot a bright light on a drone against a dark sky.
What is LAANC?
LAANC is a collaboration between FAA and private companies within the drone industry in an effort to better support UAS integration into the airspace. Rather than go through a lengthy approval process to complete flights that are otherwise not legal, which requires a ton of paperwork and human approval, LAANC automated much of it.
With LAANC, drone pilots flying still-illegal yet low-risk flights can request special approval to fly through an FAA0-approved service provider, such as Aloft. Aloft makes it easy by offering a smartphone app where you can input your information and likely quickly receive your approval. Recreational pilots have often turned to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)’s free LAANC software made in partnership with a company called UASidekick.