What does the current Government Shutdown mean to drone pilots in the DroneHive network?

No one likes a Government Shutdown to start off 2019 and as of this writing, there’s no end in sight. It’s disheartening for everyone involved and it’s especially troublesome for the UAS industry moving forward. You might be asking yourself, “How am I going to conduct business when the FAA is currently at a standstill?”

The December 22, 2018 update on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website reads:

  • Due to a lapse in funding, the FAA will only conduct “exempt” activities.  Air traffic control is fully operational and there is no impact to safety or FAA oversight for travelers.
  • The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) and Drone Zone are operational.

In simple terms for operations at DroneHive, the clients we serve, and you, our trusted Remote Pilots, this means:

  •  Use the LAANC system through one of the designated providers when and where you can. LANNC is currently at 300 air traffic facilities covering approximately 500 U.S. airports. This is the easiest method to get access to controlled airspace where applicable. If you’re not sure an airport you’re using is served by LAANC, you can search airports here: LAANC Airports
  • The FAA’s Drone Zone website is completely operational. The only caveat is that staff is currently unavailable to process the applications. Don’t wait until the shutdown is over to file your waivers and/or ATC Authorizations. Get them in the queue now. Remember, the FAA generally operates on a first come, first serve basis.
  • Contrary to what you may have heard in the past, avoid contacting Air Traffic Control (ATC) directly (via Tower, Center, or Tracon) to receive an Airspace Authorization. They are already short-staffed and unpaid with the government shutdown and do not need the extra workload from desperate drone pilots.
  • Keep the DroneHive management team informed! If you’re waiting on a waiver or ATC Authorization for a specific job, and have a customer who is asking why their job can’t be completed in a timely manner, please let us know. We will certainly help you bridge the gap between you and the customer. It’s not uncommon for our customers to be unaware of the behind the scene steps, processes, and any waiver/authorizations needed to get their specific UAS job up and running smoothly.
  • You can always check FAA news and updates.
  • Always keep safety as the first priority for any mission. Never fly in an area where you don’t have the required waiver or authorization when needed, especially in controlled airspace. This puts DroneHive at risk as well as your Remote Pilot certificate!

I hope this brief information helps shed light on what you can and can’t do during the government shutdown. Let’s all remain positive that this will be over shortly and that business will be back to normal operations soon.