I work for an agronomy company and flying crop fields is part of what we do regularly. We have a client very close to Fort AP Hill here in Virginia, which is also adjacent to restricted area R-6601. We fly fields at 400 ft… I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on the best way to receive authorization (if it’s even feasible to apply to fly at 400 ft.), and if it’s doable, is there a long-term option that lasts longer than just the date you apply for? We fly the fields multiple times each crop season, and cloud cover is a big deciding factor of whether we fly or not, so I’m not sure if applying for a specific date 90 days in advance is even worth it.
Let me know if y’all have any questions.
Thank you for reaching out in the forums. The easiest way to check for airspace restrictions and then to receive authorization where applicable is by installing the Airmap app to your DroneDeploy account. It’ll show up in your dashboard, and as you plan a flight, it will continually update with the airspace restrictions in the area, and provide a link if you can ask for authorization.
Hopefully the field you are trying to fly is truly ‘adjacent’ to the restricted R-6601 area, because I checked out that area on Airmap, and Airmap did not provide a method for me to ask for authorization, however there are plenty of areas around Fort AP that have no restrictions, so you may be in luck.
The best place to start would likely be your local FAA FSDO office if they have an sUAS specialist on staff. You might also give Fort AP Hill Base Ops a call and see what they can tell you. (Be sure and have the specific coordinates you want to fly when you call. But note that the base won’t be able to authorize the flights - just give info.)
Interestingly, neither the Restricted Area of the MOA appear on the FAA’s UASFM as No Fly Zones, even though there are several DoD NFZs nearby. (That may be just an error of omission though.)
You can apply to the FAA for a Wide Area Airspace Authorization for an extended period of time (up to a year or so.) For what it’s worth, my experience with DoD WAAAs has been successful, but the application processing time is going to be more like 120 days than 90 (simply because there are more agencies involved, I suspect) and if you get the authorization you may be required to coordinate each flight with base ops.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
I’m not positive about this but as I recall Restricted areas are not necessarily off limits to flight in general and drone flights in particular. They are generally areas where potential hazards exist (usually military) and, as a result, flight is subject to certain restrictions such as time of day, occasional special operations (bombing practice - yikes!), altitude, etc. As I remember the FAA Sectional Chart should have a number to contact for information in the legend or possibly in special notations (perhaps on the back of the chart?). As I remember it was in a location where you would not typically find it if looking at online charts instead of the old fashion paper kind. I’m sure the information is out there, it’s just a question of finding it.
Yes, I just looked at an old paper chart I had. The restrictions are in the legend section at the bottom of the sheet and are generally related to altitude and/or certain times. You will need to find a current paper chart or an alternate source for the information. As mentioned above, calling the FSDO would be a good place to try.
I’ll give what you all have recommended a try and post my results. It may be awhile before we fly that area again, but that may be a good thing if we decide to go for a DoD WAAA.
Thanks for the help!
A couple of digital tools that may prove useful –
First, SkyVector (https://skyvector.com) - the default screen is a mosaic of all US Sectionals merged together, without Legend notation. However, if you click on “Charts” (on the left in the menu bar at the top of the screen) and select “Sectionals” you can view the specific chart you need.
Second, the FAA UASFM (https://faa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9c2e4406710048e19806ebf6a06754ad) - again a map of the entire US so you’ll need to zoom in on the MOA/RA you’re looking for. (Tip: It’ll be shown in bright red.) Left click on the red area and an information window will open with all the pertinent information - including the Point of Contact (POC) person’s name and phone number. Plan on calling at least 2-3 days ahead of time to introduce yourself and your mission & be prepared to follow DoD protocols (which may include 2-way radio communications on the day of the mission.)
Hope that’s helpful.
The AirMap app on DroneDeploy has worked well, but I have have the best and most responsive luck with calling the ATC POC.