Kemper

Approval to fly higher than LAANC/facility map?

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TL;DR - Has anyone found success or a good process for getting approval to fly above a facility map max grid altitude in LAANC-active airspace?

 

I made a longwinded Reddit post (probably not the best sub or place) but I'll recap here.

I'm flying near PHX where it's Class B to SFC, and facility maps show 100' AGL max. AirMap and the LAANC approval process has worked great for me, however I'm interested in flying higher than 100'. So, 3 months ago I submitted an Airspace Authentication request for 300' with the same level of detail that I would provide for requests in non-LAANC areas. Recently I got an email that stated "Application was canceled – incorrect application type."  I exchanged emails with an FAADroneZone FAQ rep who ended up calling me and (based on my discussion with him) it seems that ATCs would rather us just stick to whatever the max grid altitude is and be happy with it. The FAA rep didn't seem to think the more involved Airspace Waiver process would be worth it because of the paperwork and time involved (I'll still give it a go). The rep still suggested just submitting through AirMap weeks out to see if I could get approval that way. I tried for 300' a few days out and it got rejected (not surprised). Maybe I'll shoot for 200', 2 weeks out.

Side note: I'm signed up for the upcoming FAA "Operating Limitations: Altitude" webinar. Maybe I'll find an answer there.

Also, I'm thankful for LAANC and the time it's saving, but a large construction site is hard to photograph from 100' AGL! I'm thankful for photomosaics.

Thank you for any input.

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Well, I can only comment on my personal experience here in SE Coastal Georgia.  LAANC went live here in July and the contractor is correct that it's always easier to stick with the published limits.  But I live less than 2 miles from a small airport and have been called upon to perform some work for a friend who is a property manager.  Of course, as luck would have it, his properties are all listed as Zero ft altitude on the grids.  I typically use Skyward and have had great success. Most of my requests have been under the actual approaches to the airport.  I have never been denied and some have "timed out".  By that I mean if Skyward has not gotten an answer from FAA by 24 hrs prior to the requested time slot, then Skyward automatically cancels the request.  As an example, this past Monday at about 4:30 pm I submitted 8 requests to fly in 2 different areas zero altitude grids and both areas near or under 2 different approaches.  The key was that one batch was a request for 50 ft and the other for 75 ft.  That was all I needed to complete the task and at 8:45 am Wednesday all were approved. I think the logic here was that if a manned a/c was below 50 feet, he was already in serious trouble!  Still haven't figured out who and where these authorizations are handled but the ATC Gods have been favoring me. If I gad requested 300 feet, I might have been denied but I didn't need that altitude.

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I have yet to receive approval to fly above the facility map max grid altitude.

I work for a university and our campus is about 3 miles from a small airport but our max grid has us set for 0ft.  I've tried to request 3 days, a week, and two weeks out to fly at 150ft but all 3 have been denied.  The frustrating part is that we've had a airspace authorization since February that has allowed us to fly 150ft with no problem.

I called my local airport just to see who is approving the request and they had no idea what LAANC is.

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1 hour ago, rpassell said:

I have yet to receive approval to fly above the facility map max grid altitude...

I'm in a very similar situation as you (on a university 3 miles from airport, but grid is 100'). I just submitted one for a week from now at 200'.

I watched AirMap's LAANC webinar from 2 months ago, but it didn't shed any light on this situation. I've dropped them a line to see what they might be able to share.

Not a good sign from that local airport!

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sIt's not your local airport handling these requests.  It's FAA, probably contractors hired for that purpose.  Guess I'm lucky here. I'm in Class E surface airspce and no denials as yet.

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For what it's worth, Marshall from AirMap said future versions might have a small comment section. Things such as "FAA tower crane approval X 1/10 NM away," etc., might be helpful to include.

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10 hours ago, Kemper said:

For what it's worth, Marshall from AirMap said future versions might have a small comment section. Things such as "FAA tower crane approval X 1/10 NM away," etc., might be helpful to include.

I'm surprised that at three miles you are limited to 100 feet AGL. At two miles anywhere but the approach ends we are back to 400 feet AGL.

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And I'm pretty "off-axis" to the runways (unless traffic is being routed goofy). About a year ago I had a waiver for a similar distance from PHX. When I called ATC they eventually asked my altitude and when I told them I got a "Oh... oh! Okay... well you're fine man... good to go!" mixed in with a little chuckle. So it goes.

I scheduled a 200' AGL, 400' radius flight for 9/7. We'll see what happens!

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6 hours ago, Kemper said:

And I'm pretty "off-axis" to the runways (unless traffic is being routed goofy). About a year ago I had a waiver for a similar distance from PHX. When I called ATC they eventually asked my altitude and when I told them I got a "Oh... oh! Okay... well you're fine man... good to go!" mixed in with a little chuckle. So it goes.

I scheduled a 200' AGL, 400' radius flight for 9/7. We'll see what happens!

Good luck. I know it can be a pain to go through the process but kudos for doing the right thing. Our local FSDO just started handing out wide area COAs for those of us stuck flying in non-LAANC airspace which was a huge surprise. We are still locked as far as altitude goes but that is dictated by the Facilities map and most of the zero altitude grids I wouldn't fly in anyway.

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Below is the request denial/cancellation email I received after getting an automated FAADroneZone email.


 

Quote

 

May 21, 2018 

Re: Wide-Area Authorizations and Extensions 

Dear Applicant: 

If you are receiving this letter, it is because your request falls outside of the parameters listed below and has therefore been cancelled or denied. If you still wish to conduct operations, please re-submit your authorization for a specific date and location in LAANC (via one of the UAS Service Suppliers at https://www.faa.gov/go/LAANC) , or via Drone Zone at: https://faadronezone.faa.gov.  

Automated authorizations are now available through the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) for many airports, reducing the delays associated with receiving manual authorizations via DroneZone. LAANC makes the airspace authorization process almost instantaneous for operations that are within the parameters of the facility maps. If you’ve not had a chance, please visit the FAA’s website and familiarize yourself with LAANC. See the LAANC rollout schedule as well as the UAS Service Suppliers providing LAANC access here: https://www.faa.gov/go/LAANC

Additionally, the FAA is currently in the process of phasing out daytime wide-area authorizations and daytime extended authorizations (i.e. longer than a day), with nearly all of them going away by September 30, 2018. The FAA will only grant wide-area authorizations and extended authorizations for non-FAA towers/airports, as they will not be available in the initial rollout of LAANC.

How this affects requests for operations at FAA facilities: 

1. On April 30, 2018, the FAA began rolling out LAANC capability in “waves”: 

  • Wave 1 (South Central USA) – April 30, 2018 
  • Wave 2 (Western North USA) – May 24, 2018 
  • Wave 3 (Western South USA) – June 21, 2018 
  • Wave 4 (Eastern South USA) – July 19, 2018 
  • Wave 5 (Eastern North USA) – August 16, 2018 
  • Wave 6 (Central North USA) – September 13, 2018 

2. Beginning on the date when LAANC comes online at an FAA facility, daytime wide-area authorizations and daytime long-term authorizations will no longer be issued for that facility. Proponents will need to file in LAANC for automated authorizations (or in Drone Zone for manual authorizations at: https://faadronezone.faa.gov) for a particular location and single date of operation during daylight hours. If using the manual process via Drone Zone, you can expect significantly longer processing times depending on the volume of requests.

How this affects proponents requesting extensions to their approved authorizations: 

1. For FAA facilities available in LAANC prior to June 30, 2018 (i.e., Wave 1, Wave 2 and Wave 3 airports), the FAA will not extend the authorizations; you will need to file in LAANC for automated authorizations (or in Drone Zone for manual authorization at: https://faadronezone.faa.gov) for a particular location and single date of operation during daylight hours. Wide-area or long-term authorizations will no longer be granted for that facility during daylight hours. If using the manual process via Drone Zone, you can expect significantly longer processing times depending on the volume of requests.

2. For FAA facilities available in LAANC after June 30, 2018, (i.e., Wave 4, Wave 5, and Wave 6 airports), the FAA will consider extending existing authorizations until September 30, 2018. After that date, you will need to file in LAANC for automated authorizations (or in Drone Zone for manual authorization at: https://faadronezone.faa.gov) for a particular location and single date of operation during daylight hours. Once LAANC is available at a particular airport, wide-area or long-term authorizations will no longer be granted for that facility during daylight hours. If using the manual process via Drone Zone, you can expect significantly longer processing times depending on the volume of requests. 
 
If you have any questions, please email 9-AJV-115-EmergTech@faa.gov

Sincerely, 

Scott J. Gardner 
Acting Manager, Emerging Technologies UAS 
Tactical Operations Section, AJV-115

 

 

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I tried requesting approval to fly in a Class Airspace here in Southern California (KONT) where my flight area was split between 2 FAA grids - one had a lid of 400ft AGL, the other was zero feet. The 400ft was approved and the other was cancelled the very next day. This was submitted via Skyward. The odd thing is, I requested to fly at and below 50ft AGL, there are trees and infrastructure far taller than this in the area. Just mind boggling they won't approve it, especially without any guidance on what they want to see changed in the request that prompts them to deny the request.

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@Steve Bennett, that's pretty frustrating. I'm in a similar situation, with landmarks and tower cranes higher than I'm allowed to fly with LAANC. I'm inclined to agree with @Ed O'Grady that these reviewers are not familiar with local airspace (or local anything). I'm hopeful this process is being developed and will improve.

 

Until then, it's my opinion that the process goes: I submit for 200' in a 100' grid for two weeks from now. 24 hours before the flight, it pops up on someone's screen. A reviewer sees I'm requesting higher than the grid and denies it. Then I go to submit a good old Airspace Authentication via FAADroneZone. Reviewer there sees I'm requesting in a LAANC area: denied. I'm told to use LAANC. Frustrating.

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