The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released the beta version of its new smartphone application B4UFLY, which will be tested by up to 1,000 unmanned aircraft system users.
According to the agency, the B4UFLY app, aimed primarily at model aircraft enthusiasts, is designed to give users information about restrictions or requirements in effect at their current or planned flight location.
The FAA expects the beta test will yield valuable data on how well B4UFLY functions and will uncover any software bugs.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta first announced the initiative at a press conference in May at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s (AUVSI) Unmanned Systems 2015, where he asked for volunteers to test the app.
The FAA says it has notified those who previously signed up and will be pushing the app to them directly in the coming days.
The beta test is expected to run for several months, after which the FAA plans to make B4UFLY available to the general public. The beta test will be for iOS devices only, but the FAA says it is working to ensure the full version will also be compatible with Android devices.
Using the location services feature of a smartphone, the app quickly determines restrictions or requirements in effect where the user wants to fly and gives a clear status icon. The status indicator function considers airspace, proximity to airports, temporary flight restrictions, current law, and other FAA guidance and procedures.
B4UFLY complements the Know Before You Fly campaign, which provides prospective UAS operators with information and guidance for flying safely and responsibly. The FAA is a partner in the effort with AUVSI, the Academy of Model Aeronautics and the Small UAV Coalition.