To help unmanned aircraft system and model aircraft users know if it is safe and legal to fly in their current and planned location, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has introduced a smartphone application called B4UFLY.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta first announced the app at a press conference during the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's (AUVSI) Unmanned Systems 2015 in Atlanta.
“We want to make sure hobbyists and modelers know where it is and isn’t okay to fly,” he said. “While there are other apps that provide model aircraft enthusiast with various types of data, we believe B4UFLY has the most user-friendly interface and the most up-to-date information.”
The FAA plans to release the app to approximately 1,000 beta testers later this summer. The beta test is expected to run for several months; then the FAA plans to make B4UFLY available for the general public. The initial release is planned for iOS devices only, with an Android version to follow.
B4UFLY complements the Know Before You Fly educational campaign, which provides prospective UAS operators with information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly. This campaign is an FAA partnership with AUVSI, the Academy of Model Aeronautics and the Small UAV Coalition.
At least 100 AMA members will be assisting the FAA with beta testing. “Much like our Know Before You Fly campaign, this app demonstrates that education is the best way to ensure the safe use of this technology,” AMA says.
Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI, comments, “This important tool will improve the safety of our airspace as the FAA works to finalize rules that will allow for broader commercial use of UAS technology in the U.S. We look forward to working with the FAA as it develops this app and encourage all operators to download and use it each and every time they fly.”
Photo courtesy of the FAA