Unified drone mission tech and uncrewed traffic management company Aloft says it has updated its eponymous flight app to support requests by recreation pilots for nighttime flight in controlled airspaces to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) program – a service previously limited to professional operators.
Aloft said its mobile app and web platform began offering the option of night LAANC requests by recreational drone fliers today, following the FAA agreeing to extend the program beyond Part 107 operators. But before leisure pilots can start planning after-dark flights in controlled airspaces under 400 feet, they’ll have to put a bit of work in to gain approval.
Aloft notes that recreational users have to comply with the same nighttime LAANC flight rules as professional operators, including completion of the The Recreational UAS Safety Test. They’ll also need to know and adopt the safety guidelines of an FAA Recognized Community Based Organization. Other requirements and links to related resources are available on the Aloft mobile app and web platform in the section covering LAANC request applications.
Read: FAA issues its millionth LAANC authorization to drone pilots
Aloft says the FAA’s extension of night LAANC operation capabilities to non-professional pilots is vital to keeping recreational users involved in the program. At the moment, writes Aloft CEO Jon Hegranes in announcing the development, the numbers of private pilots applying for LAANC flights continue to decline.
“Whereas total FAA commercial LAANC authorizations increased 22% last year, total FAA recreational LAANC authorizations decreased 5% in 2022 from 185k authorizations to 175k,” he notes. “As Aloft powers the vast majority of commercial and recreational LAANC, we continue to work with the FAA and propose new capabilities to increase LAANC usage, utility, and effectiveness. Recreational LAANC at night is a good next step, but we believe more needs to be done to continue serving drone pilots and their access to the airspace.”
Aloft apps are used in the vast majority of LAANC requests to the FAA by drone pilots. The company has also been a major partner in developing the regulator’s B4UFLY application informing users where they can and cannot fly.