Real-time Information For Drone Operators With New FAA App

This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working round the clock on developing new user-friendly means of increasing UAV safety. A pre-release version of B4UFLY, a smartphone app developed by the FAA, was released to near 1,000 beta testers. The FAA hopes to collect vital information about usability and bugs by the end of the trial.

Most UAV operators have little to no aviation experience and may pose a risk to manned aircraft. The new app will provide users with the tools and information required to safely operate their craft in shared airspace. Through it users will receive information regarding restrictions and requirements in the airspace their drones currently occupy and along their planned route. In effect, the app will compliment the “Know Before You Fly” educational campaign, that provides safety training for potential UAV operators.

Among the app’s central features are a “‘status’ indicator that immediately informs the operator about their current or planned location”, a “‘planner mode’ for future flights”, “informative, interactive maps with filtering options”, and links to other information resources.

By means of the location services on the user’s smartphone, the apps quickly determines the relevant restrictions and requirements in the area the operator wishes to fly to and clearly informs of the criteria in the airspace. For example, proximity to an airport, temporary flight restrictions, appropriate law and other FAA regulations.

Work on an updated version of the app is already underway at the FAA. It will include electronic notices and warnings for operators when they are 8 km from an airport. Operators are required by law to inform airports and control towers when breaching this exclusion zone. The Administration hopes to collect feedbacks throughout the beta trial and to use to use this data in developing the electronic warning system.

When the Federal Aviation Authority finishes development of B4UFLY, no one will be able to claim ignorance when their drone lands on the lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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