The FAA on April 27 began publishing electronic maps for airports across the country that detail where and at what altitudes remote pilots may hope to achieve clearance (Part 107 authorization) to fly unmanned aircraft in certain types of controlled airspace. This information will be of interest to companies like ours that are providing cutting edge UAV data capture missions (see our UAV services) and to many of you who are following this space. The maps will help drone operators improve the quality of their Part 107 airspace authorization requests and help the FAA process the requests more quickly – note, the system used has been designed and authored to the public using ArcGIS.
FAA Online Map system – UAS Facility Maps show the maximum altitudes around airports where the FAA may authorize part 107 UAS operations without additional safety analysis
This via the FAA on April 27 – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today published more than 200 facility maps (class E airports) to streamline the commercial drone authorization process. The maps depict areas and altitudes near airports where UAS may operate safely. But drone operators still need FAA authorization to fly in those areas.
According to a recent article in AOPA, “The maps lay foundation for the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), a system for drone traffic control that the FAA hopes to have online by the end of 2017. Remote pilots are expected to benefit from more rapid access to airspace where currently the time required to gain authorization makes many operations near airports impractical, while manned pilots also will have more information available to them about where routine unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations are expected to occur. ” Source: AOPA
Some noteworthy details of the newly provided maps:
- The digital maps being made public through the FAA UAS Data Delivery System include a grid overlay that depicts acceptable altitude limits for UAS operations near airports around the country.
- Remote pilots can reference this information when planning flights and preparing to submit online authorization requests
- Operations outside of the defined limits may still be approved, but will require more detailed review.
- Manned pilots also can glean useful information studying the UAS facility maps for airports they use, as the maps will show where UAS operations may be more likely.
- Hobbyist drone pilots can use the UAS facility maps as a resource to identify what acceptable altitudes are around airports more generally, including airports with no control tower.
- The area around each airport is divided into a grid with an associated altitude limit
- The grids will be updated on the same 56-day cycle that applies to other aviation charts – see 56-day aeronautical chart production schedule (PDF)
- FAA plans to have all facility maps published by Oct. 31
Sample UAS facility map
Note, the FAA also makes available several OpenData products, including UAS facility map data – The UAS Facility Maps are designed to identify permissible altitudes (above ground level) at which UAS, operating under the Small UAS Rule (14 CFR 107), can be authorized to fly within the surface areas of controlled airspace. See these data HERE
- FAA online system to request waiver
- Other FAA useful resources
- View all UAS Facility Maps and grids
- View an example UAS Facility Map (PDF)
- View a list of all Class E Surface Area Facility Maps (MS Excel)
- Frequently Asked Questions.
Are you interested in learning more about how GEO Jobe is using UAV technology in our business? We’ve shared a number of project updates, images and videos from the field (and from the air) via our Twitter @geojobeuav and Instagram @geojobeuav.
GEO Jobe UAV services (http://geo-jobe.com/uav) has worked on a variety of projects including clients in: local government, utilities, mining, agriculture, construction, EDU facilities and more. The GEO Jobe crew currently has three FAA licensed UAV remote pilots experienced in UAV and mobile data collection techniques for orthophotography updating, corridor mapping, asset inventory, terrain modeling, 3D building design models and more.
— GEOJobeUAV (@geojobeuav) April 9, 2017