With its new regulations and registration requirements, the FAA is encouraging drone operators to fly safely and responsibly. To help make it easier for pilots to comply with existing airspace regulations, the government agency has released a new smartphone and tablet app designed specifically for US drone owners. The awkwardly named app, B4UFLY, uses location data to provide drone and other model aircraft users with FAA restriction information in an easy-to-understand package. It is available now for iOS owners and is accessible to Android owners via a beta testing program.
The B4UFLY app is designed for both novice and expert drone operators, allowing them to discern the flying status of an airspace using coded status indicators. Each status indicator is generated based on the operator’s location and the associated FAA operational restrictions for that area. The color and shape of an indicator will let pilots know at a glance whether aircraft operation is prohibited in the area. It also can tell them whether the safe operation of a drone requires any changes in the flight pattern or if the airspace is open for flying using established safe operating techniques.
Besides the on-demand view that provides information on the current airspace status, the app also includes a useful planner and map view tools. As its name implies, the planner interface allows pilots to plot a course and see the flight restrictions for the different locations and times that are covered by the flight. There’s also a map interface for operators who want to chart a flight but are not quite ready to plan out the details. The map interface lets operators view and plot nearby restricted flight areas. Users can switch between the three modes easily using the icons in the bottom navigation bar of the app.
The FAA isn’t the only entity working to educate drone operators about restricted airspaces and no-fly zones. Companies such as DJI are updating their drones with new mapping technology that includes airspace information. This low-altitude airspace data has been collected and organized by AirMap, a startup that works out of Los Angeles.
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