Drone operators who want to know if it’s safe and legal to operate their unmanned aircraft in a particular spot learned this week that there’s now an app for that from the government.
The Federal Aviation Administration has released a mobile app for drone operators to learn whether it is safe to fly their unmanned aircraft in a particular location.
The app also has a feature that allows users to select a different time and location for an upcoming flight and determine if there are any restrictions at that place and time
The B4UFLY mobile application was released following an initial beta testing period that began in May of last year. The app is now available for Apple devices and can be downloaded from the App Store. The FAA said it is also releasing a beta version of B4UFLY for Android devices, which can be downloaded from Google.
B4UFLY tells users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS) where they may want to operate their unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
“We expect B4UFLY will help raise public awareness about what it means to operate unmanned aircraft safely,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huertasaid at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The B4UFLY app includes a number of enhancements the FAA says came about as a result of user feedback during the beta testing. Within two taps, users can learn if it is safe to fly at their current location. The app provides a status indicator that tells users: “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning – Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.”
The app also features a planner mode that allows users to see if there are any restrictions at another place and later time where they wish to fly their aircraft.
By law, hobbyists who want to fly within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and the air traffic control facility (if there is one) prior to flying. For now, B4UFLY will ask users who are supposed to notify the airport before flying for voluntary information about their planned flight. This will not meet the statutory requirement to notify the airport and air traffic control facility, but the data will help the agency make informed policy decisions related to notification. The FAA said this information will not be publicly available.
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