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LAANC Countdown vs 107.41 Waiver

Local UAS

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Looking for a bit of advice here...

I've been passing up jobs located in controlled airspace (I live around Chicago, sigh...). We do not yet have LAANC active in this area as we are part of "Wave 6" due to roll out in mid-September.

With the FAA's glacial pace of approving waivers, I think LAANC will become viable in my area before the FAA even opens that 107.41 email. I may be too pessimistic here?

Given the timeline, would you guys just bear the burden of applying for an airspace waiver and hope it's approved before September or just wait for LAANC?

I'm not in a rush to fly in controlled airspace but I'd love to make my business more viable to clients that may not appreciate the nuance of aircraft separation.

Thanks!
 

R Martin

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Looking for a bit of advice here...

I've been passing up jobs located in controlled airspace (I live around Chicago, sigh...). We do not yet have LAANC active in this area as we are part of "Wave 6" due to roll out in mid-September.

With the FAA's glacial pace of approving waivers, I think LAANC will become viable in my area before the FAA even opens that 107.41 email. I may be too pessimistic here?

Given the timeline, would you guys just bear the burden of applying for an airspace waiver and hope it's approved before September or just wait for LAANC?

I'm not in a rush to fly in controlled airspace but I'd love to make my business more viable to clients that may not appreciate the nuance of aircraft separation.

Thanks!
LAANC availability is all predicated on the tower type. If the tower is a federal contract tower the chances of it being included in LAANC this year (or next for that matter) are null. FCTs are not participating in LAANC at this time. You can probably count on Midway and O-Hare being included on this round and a few other Class B and C airports. The Class D airspace is still being handled under the old system for the most part.
Which brings me to my question; why would you request a waiver instead of a COA? The COA has a lot better chance of being approved on the first round and takes a lot less time to get.
 

Local UAS

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Good info, thank you! I didn't know about FCTs not participating in LAANC (bummer!).

I agree with you about an authorization being easier to acquire and probably better for what I need. And given what you said about FCTs and Class D still under the old system, that's the route I'll go. But what attracts me towards a waiver is the timeliness I can complete a job. Something like, "Have waiver, will do job now." Rather than, "Let me grab an authorization for this specific job, not sure how long that may take, client goes away."

Thank you for the insight. Much appreciated. It's easy to get lost in the FAA small print.
 

R Martin

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Good info, thank you! I didn't know about FCTs not participating in LAANC (bummer!).

I agree with you about an authorization being easier to acquire and probably better for what I need. And given what you said about FCTs and Class D still under the old system, that's the route I'll go. But what attracts me towards a waiver is the timeliness I can complete a job. Something like, "Have waiver, will do job now." Rather than, "Let me grab an authorization for this specific job, not sure how long that may take, client goes away."

Thank you for the insight. Much appreciated. It's easy to get lost in the FAA small print.
So instead of thinking job-centric think in terms of an area and file for a COA to cover that specific area. You are not limited on how many you can hold at any given time. I've got a friend that has enough to cover the I-35 corridor from the TX-OK border south to San Antonio and another group to cover the I-45 corridor. I have three for the city I fly in of various sizes to accommodate my areas of interest.
You can ask for two years and probably get each for a year. The renewal process is a whole lot faster (max 30 days) versus the 30-90 day application time for the original. As long as the COA does not expire it can be renewed till time ends (or LAANC begins).
 

BigAl07

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In addition to what is so well stated above.... Why haven't you already applied? You could have days already in the queue behind you already. The sooner you apply the sooner you start working in those areas. The reason I say this is that your competition may not have waited and either has already applied or even already approved. Time is of the essence when you're trying to run a business.
 
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R Martin

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In addition to what is so well stated above.... Why haven't you already applied? You could have days already in the queue behind you already. The sooner you apply the sooner you start working in those areas. The reason I say this is that your competition may not have waited and either has already applied or even already approved. Time is of the essence when you're trying to run a business.
Good point. Before LAANC, COAs were approved by an operational safety group at a regional level. So for example, each group could have had 8-10 people working on a specific area. Times 'X' number of regions across the US. With the advent of LAANC, those OSGs have been re-tasked and the approval process has been consolidated at FAA headquarters. So now you have fewer people potentially handling a whole lot more requests.

The point in this is apply immediately when you identify the need for a COA and request as much time as possible. I a;ways ask for at least two years knowing I won't get it but my last round was approved for 15 months vs the previous round being approved for 12 months. Don't count on LAANC to solve the airspace issue for you. Be proactive and take the steps necessary to get yourself in the air earning money now. If LAANC pans out for you, no harm no foul. If LAANC falls short like it did for me, the paperwork is already in the pipeline and you are that much farther ahead in the process.
 
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dronecyclops

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Looking for a bit of advice here...

I've been passing up jobs located in controlled airspace (I live around Chicago, sigh...). We do not yet have LAANC active in this area as we are part of "Wave 6" due to roll out in mid-September.

With the FAA's glacial pace of approving waivers, I think LAANC will become viable in my area before the FAA even opens that 107.41 email. I may be too pessimistic here?

Given the timeline, would you guys just bear the burden of applying for an airspace waiver and hope it's approved before September or just wait for LAANC?

I'm not in a rush to fly in controlled airspace but I'd love to make my business more viable to clients that may not appreciate the nuance of aircraft separation.

Thanks!
I was going to apply for a few COA's for when I might need them but with LAANC starting in September thought I would wait was hoping by then the kinks would be worked out & get instant approval
 

R Martin

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I was going to apply for a few COA's for when I might need them but with LAANC starting in September thought I would wait was hoping by then the kinks would be worked out & get instant approval
To their credit, the FAA has already told us which airports will be included under LAANC. If the airport you plan on flying around is not included specifically in that list, then LAANC is not going to help you and you are going to have to continue to rely on the current system, except that fewer people are working on the approval process now, which to me means that the process is going to get slower. But it is your call....
 

mdurbanek

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LAANC's debut in the Western South was one day late, but has been great ever since for me. The FAA towers where I have been working are on board, and in FCT tower airspace the notices state "digital notice coming soon". "Soon" is relative, of course.

The previous posts are accurate, though - apply for a COA now and ask for a two-year period. I suspect by that time the FCT towers will be on LAANC. Plus, you will have a track record of playing by the rules. My opinion is that those who build a record of participating and minding the rules will be looking good. The rule-breakers who won't comply with LAANC will be identified, and natural selection will reduce the herd. The Darwin effect is ALMOST always reliable.
 
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R Martin

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FYI, just received this in email:



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Hi there -

We have learned from the FAA that, due to complications with inconsistent ownership boundaries on UAS facility maps, the FAA has decided to temporarily turn off LAANC capabilities at the following airports:

  • Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

The FAA is actively working on a solution to bring LAANC back to these areas - if you do frequent business in any of these regions, we suggest applying for a wide area authorization as soon as possible.


We understand how frustrating this is for those of you who have customers relying on your services in these areas, and we’re sharing the urgency for a fix with the FAA. Resolving this boundary issue during the beta test phase will allow the FAA to better manage a wider rollout of LAANC in the future. As we learn more, we’ll keep you updated via e-mail, our blog, and in-app notifications.


Best,


Matt Fanelli
Director of Strategy
Skyward, a Verizon company
 

Earnest Ward

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One other point worth noting, in addition to checking your area for contract-towered fields (which, as previously mentioned, will/are not included in the year-one LAANC rollout), check of Department of Defense (DoD) fields. My experience has been that COAs for the latter take MUCH longer to process (124 days in my case) since they involve at least two independent federal agencies, and require more "bells and whistles." Good luck!
 

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