Where Can You Legally Fly a Drone?

By Sean Pagliari
Published August 8, 2020 Last Updated May 13, 2021

The question of where a drone can legally be flown for professional purposes under Federal Aviation Administration regulations is completely based on airspace Class and/or Type.

Within the National Airspace System there are various Classes of “controlled” airspace and one Class of “uncontrolled” airspace. Current Part 107 regulations allow for the flight of an sUA in any area of uncontrolled, “Class G” airspace, but flights in most areas of controlled airspace Classes requires a special airspace authorization.

Where Can You Legally Fly a Drone?

Within the National Airspace System there are various classes of airspace, five controlled and one uncontrolled. Current Part 107 regulations allow sUAS to operate in any area of uncontrolled, “Class G” airspace without specific authorization. However, flights in most controlled airspace requires a special airspace authorization.

In addition, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies maintain areas of “Prohibited” or “Restricted” airspace where the flight of any non-participating aircraft, manned or unmanned, is either highly restricted or prohibited in its entirety.

 

 

Controlled airspace is designed to provide air traffic control services and aircraft separation to manned pilots while enroute to their destinations. When flying your drone around airports that are in controlled airspace ATC authorizations are required, it is important that Air Traffic Control is made aware, and issues the appropriate approval. The current Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability framework provided by the FAA allows Remote Pilots operating under Part 107 regulations to fly their aircraft in many areas of otherwise controlled airspace, provided they can remain below certain specified altitudes.

When sUAS flight in controlled airspace cannot be authorized instantly via a LAANC approval, a manual authorization is needed which can take more time to obtain. Depending on the required flight altitude and the amount of traffic within the controlled region, authorization may only be available with advanced notice and for a 1-time flight; however, long-term manual authorizations can sometimes be issued as well.

To better understand our National Airspace System as it pertains to professional sUAS operations and view any airspace authorizations that may be required in your area, please review the DARTdrones Course: Real World Airspace Using Airmap.

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