Whether a new drone owner, a seasoned hobbyist, or Professional Drone Operator with an FAA Remote Pilot Certification (Part 107), if you would like to fly in controlled airspace within a 5 mile radius of airports, then obtaining approval to do so is a must.
In order to get this approval, LAANC authorization is required. Shortly, we will define what LAANC is.
In this article, we will guide you, step-by-step, through the LAANC request process using the Airmap web desktop app and the AIRMAP mobile app.
The topics/procedures covered will be:
- Setting up an Airmap account online
- Creating a flight plan through the Airmap web desktop
- Submitting the LAANC request through the web desktop
- Logging into the Airmap Mobile App
- Creating a flight plan through the Airmap Mobile app
- Submitting the LAANC request through the Airmap Mobile app
LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization Notification Capability) is software that is used to automate the process of approving and denying drone operator requests to fly in Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E controlled airspace in the US.
Currently, LAANC is available for 700+ airports across the US, and the airports utilizing this system continue to grow.
What is Airmap?
Airmap is a multi-faceted company that specializes in airspace management software systems for drones.
There is a long list of services that are provided for various industries and governmental agencies.
For Part 107 and Recreational drone operators, Airmap is designed to easily plan flights, request flight approvals from local airports with LAANC capabilities, and help operators fly safely.
Setting up an Airmap Account
Because of the amount of information that gets input in the Airmap account, I personally suggest setting up user accounts on a PC or Mac. This, of course, is your choice.
Although I have had a company Airmap account set up for years, for this walkthrough, I will be setting up a brand new account.
Basic Account Setup
Go to the Airmap website located at airmap.com (link opens in a new window) and select LOGIN.
Register for an account. This is located at the very bottom of the Sign-In box.
Input all of your information. Then click REGISTER.
After all of your information has been typed in, you will receive a prompt to verify your email address. Check your email that the verification went to, and click the provided link.
Your account is now set up with basic information. Now it is time to complete the user profile and add the aircraft that the LAANC authorizations will be tied to.
Go into the desktop app located at app.airmap.com.
Once in the desktop app, on the left side, you will see PROFILE. Click this and modify your information to your liking.
Note: Make sure to add your cellphone number, as this will be used to send your LAANC authorizations to you via text. Please see below.
After your phone number has been entered, a verification code will be sent to said number. Input the SMS Code that came via text and hit SUBMIT.
In order to log flight plans, it is essential to add your drones.
- Go to the MY AIRCRAFT section.
- If you have not already done so, you will be presented with a prompt that says, “You currently do not have any aircraft listed.”
- Click ADD AIRCRAFT.
- Input your drone’s information – Name, Manufacturer, and then Model.
- Afterward, click the green checkmark. Do this for all of the drones you will be using the LAANC system to authorize.
- You will be presented with a listing of all of the drones you have entered.
- Click anywhere on the screen to view the desktop web app.
Desktop LAANC Authorization Request
In this section, we will go through the steps to request LAANC authorization before arriving onsite.
Go to the desktop web app at app.airmap.com
Prior to filing a flight plan, you will need to define the area you will be requesting. To do so, on the main screen, in the Area of Interest, type in either the address or areas name, then select the corresponding address that appears in the list view.
For this case, I will use a popular spot in Downtown Orlando, within a LAANC area, Lake Eola Park.
When this step has been completed, the map will then pinpoint the area/street you are requesting and drop a pin onto that area.
You can use your mouse’s scroll wheel to zoom in and out of the area.
You have the option to click and drag the pin to the exact location/area you want. This comes in handy when you are not sure of the address you might be shooting at but know the general vicinity where it falls.
You might have noticed in the above image that the area is broken into grids. The grid in the area my pin falls says 100 with a line above it. This is the maximum height (ceiling) that you are allowed to fly your drone within the area of the grid.
Different areas have different heights, ranging from 0 – 400 feet.
Note: Even if you are using a non-geofenced drone (i.e., Autel or Skydio), it is good practice to fly safely by staying within the designated height restrictions.
It is now time to file the flight plan. To do so, click the + sign in the blue circle, on the left of the screen.
On the next screen, you are presented with a number of options. The first thing to do would be to set the radius size of the area you’d like to fly after moving your pin to your desired location.
Below, I simply moved the pin to the center of the lake and set the radius to 750ft using the slider on the bottom of the screen.
You can set your pin wherever you’d like and make the radius up to 1000ft.
Note: The mobile app allows you to set the radius wider than 1000ft.
It is now time to pick the appropriate rule you will be flying under for this particular flight. The options are found under the layers icon.
The choices are:
- FAA Recreational Flyers (44809)
- FAA Part 107 Certified
If you are flying for fun, select Recreational Flyer, and if you are flying commercially and have your certificate, choose Part 107 Certified.
Next, fill in all of the information for the following categories:
- Date & Time
- PILOT & AIRCRAFT
- First & Last Name
- Aircraft (Drone) Name
- FLIGHT CONTEXT
- Over People?
- VLOS (Visual Line of Site)?
- Pilot First Name
- Pilot Last Name
- Pilot Phone Number
You will then be able to see your flight briefing by selecting Brief Flight Plan at the bottom of the screen.
You can then view:
- Authorization Requests
- Rules and Compliance
After filling in all of the necessary information, simply press SUBMIT FLIGHT PLAN, and you should receive your authorization (or sometimes rejection) within seconds to your phone.
Mobile App LAANC Authorization Request
To request LAANC authorization on a mobile app (iOS and Android), you can download the app from the following:
When it comes to making LAANC requests, even from a mobile device, you will need to have an account set up.
As earlier stated, I find it easier to do so on the desktop web app (link), following the steps in the Setting up an Airmap Account section above.
If you’d rather set up an account from your smart device, you can still do so, following the earlier mentioned steps.
After your account is set up, log in, and you will then be in the map view.
The very first thing that needs to be done is to select which flight rule category you will be flying under:
- FAA Part 107 (Commercial)
- FAA Recreational Flyer (Hobbyist)
Since my flight was for commercial purposes, I chose the FAA Part 107 Certified.
For the authorization request, like with the desktop example further up in this article, I have my screen centered on Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando.
You will notice on your map that where there is controlled airspace, there will be grids with numbers on them. These numbers (in my case, 100) signify the maximum drone height allowed.
This next step is to Create a Flight Plan. To do this, press the flight plan button (in the image above, it looks like a blue and white paper airplane).
This will zoom you into the portion of the map you are looking at with an adjustable radius. You can move/drag your flight’s center point to wherever you’d like and resize it with the radius slider at the bottom.
Note: The radius slider in the mobile app has a much broader range, than the 1000ft maximum in the desktop web app.
Tap the Next button on the top right to go to modify/add your flight plan details.
- DATE & TIME
- PILOT & AIRCRAFT
- Drone/Aircraft Name
- FLIGHT CONTEXT
- A brief note explaining the mission
- Pilot Last name
- Pilot First name
- Pilot mobile number
- Drone weight
- Expected visibility
- Maximum flight speed
- VLOS (Visual Line of Sight)
- Preflight Check?
- Anti-collision lighting?
- Part 107? (If previously chose flying as Part 107)
- Drone registered?
After all of the criteria and options have been entered, press the Next button at the bottom of the screen. This will then bring you to the Flight Briefing screen.
Press Submit Flight, and you will have your authorization texted to your cellphone within seconds.
Below is a picture I took of Lake Eola, with LAANC approval through Airmap.
Airmap is a fairly simple and straightforward way to make LAANC requests, whether in-app (iOS or Android) or via PC or Mac.
If you, like me, require additional ways to make requests from the comfort of your home or office for commercial work, the Airmap Web Desktop is a great tool and easy to work in.
I’ve been using Airmap for years and have not had a problem with it. I highly recommend it.