Recreational Flyers Can Now Get Instant Night Flying Authorization via LAANC
BY Zacc Dukowitz1 March 2023
Recreational drone pilots can now get instant authorization to fly at night.
For years now, commercial drone pilots have been able to use LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) to get instant airspace authorization to fly drones near airports.
Before LAANC, drone pilots had to submit airspace authorization requests and wait for weeks, and sometimes months, to get them approved.
LAANC changed this, providing instant airspace authorizations for commercial drone pilots by using one of several free apps created by private companies.
[Related read: How To Get Drone Flights Approved in Controlled Airspace with LAANC]
In October of 2021, the FAA made it possible for commercial drone pilots to use LAANC to get instant approval for night flying.
And now, as of February 20, 2023, recreational pilots can also get permission to fly at night using LAANC. Along with this news, the FAA announced that it has divided the national airspace into smaller segments, providing drone pilots with more areas where they can fly.
How to Use LAANC for Night Flying as a Recreational Drone Pilot
To use LAANC as a recreational pilot, you’ll need to start by downloading one of the free apps that offer LAANC. You can see a list of all the LAANC service providers here on the FAA’s website.
One thing to note is that, since night flying for recreational flyers is still new, not all service providers may offer it. Make sure to confirm that the one you choose does before you show up to fly at night.
One provider we know is offering night flying authorizations for recreational flying is Aloft (formerly Kittyhawk).
Whichever app you choose, the steps to get night flying authorization are the same:*
- Register your drone
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST).
- Apply on the date you wish to fly (requests may be submitted up to 90 days in advance of your planned flight).
- Select the exact time, altitude, and location where you wish to fly.**
*These steps were taken from the FAA’s website.
**Make sure you select to fly at or below the altitude defined by the UAS Facility Maps (this will show up automatically in your LAANC provider’s app).
What Else Do Recreational Drone Pilots Need to Know?
In case you’re just getting started as a recreational drone pilot there are a few things to note.
In order to fly as a recreational drone pilot you must:
- Fly only for fun. To fly a drone recreationally you can only be flying for fun, not for work or pay (activities that fall under commercial drone operations).
- Register. You must have a current FAA registration, mark your drone with that registration, and carry it with you when you fly. Get started on the FAA DroneZone.
- Take the TRUST. The TRUST is a guided course that includes safety and other knowledge for drone operations. In addition to taking it you must carry proof of test passage when you fly. Take the TRUST now.
- Follow the rules. The FAA has several restrictions on how recreational drone pilots can fly, including the requirement to keep your drone within your visual line of sight; give way to and do not interfere with other aircraft; and fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Learn more on the FAA’s website.
- Follow the safety guidelines of a CBO. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO).
Here’s a list of all the FAA-recognized CBOs:
- Academy of Model Aeronautics
- First Person View Freedom Coalition
- Flite Test Community Association
- STEM+C Inc.
Learn more about the rules and requirements for recreational flyers on the FAA’s website.
Quick Facts LAANC
If you’re new to LAANC you may wonder how it works and what it provides.
Here are a few facts to get you up to speed:
How does LAANC work?
LAANC works by automatically checking airspace authorization requests in UAS Facility Maps to see if the requested airspace is safe for a drone operation. This allows it to instantly provide authorization instead of waiting for manual approvals (manual approvals required a person to check the UAS Facility Maps—LAANC does the same operation automatically).
How large of an area does a LAANC authorization span?
LAANC authorization areas can span up to 10 miles.
Where is LAANC available?
LAANC doesn’t work for all controlled airspace but it is available in a large number of places. According to the FAA, there are 541 LAANC Enabled Facilities and 732 airports that offer LAANC. See this list on the FAA’s website to learn more.
How far in advance can you apply for approval using LAANC?
Up to 90 days.