Drone FAQs: Airspace

The easiest, fastest method for operators of a remote unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to determine the overlying airspace is to utilize one of the many apps available to them. The FAA’s B4UFLY app uses the GPS on your phone to show where you are graphically on a map as well as what airspace is overlying and what restrictions exist at that location. B4UFLY will also list any Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs), Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs), national parks, sporting events, restricted spaces, or other special use areas.

Pilots can get automated approval, recently expanded to 500 airports, through the LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) system operated by AirMap, Skyward, and other providers. There are a number of other apps as well, such as Hover (by AirMap) and Kittyhawk. A quick look at a manned aircraft sectional map for your area will also give you a wide view of the entire area and all the various airspaces that will affect your ability to launch.

National parks and sporting events are going to be a no-go, but TFRs are something to always look for prior to launch, as they can pop up anytime, anywhere, depending on the activities in your area. The bottom line is that you need to check the airspace each time you fly.—Sam Cadwell, adjunct faculty in Aviation Sciences at the Community College of BeaverCounty, and a private pilot ground-school instructor.

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