FAA releases UAS safety app

By Ann Bailey | September 01, 2015
  • FAA has released an app that the agency hopes hobby UAV operators will open before they fly.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hopes that unmanned aerial vehicle users will check its app before they fly.

The FAA has released for testing the beta version of B4UFLY. The app is a way to help the operators know whether or not there is a conflict in the air space in which they plan to fly, the FAA said. The beta test will run at least 60 days.

One thousand UAV users received the B4UFLY APP which primarily is for model aircraft enthusiasts. The app is unavailable in the beta version in the Apple store, but the FAA is maintaining a waiting list in case the 1,000 users do not download B4UFLY. People who want to be added to the waiting list should email b4ufly@faa.gov, the FAA said.

The FAA hopes that by using B4UFLY, conflicts between manned and unmanned aircrafts will be reduced. The agency is concerned about the increase of reports of unsafe operations of unmanned aircraft near airports, over people and near manned aircraft.

Although, B4UFLY is targeted at hobby or recreational UAV pilots, the FAA believes that civil and commercial operators will find aspects of B4UFLY useful.

The app uses a location services feature of users’ smart phones to determine whether restrictions or requirements are in effect where they want to fly and gives users a clear status icon. The status indicator functions considers factors such as airspace, proximity to air ports and temporary flight restrictions.

Some other notable features of the App are:

–          Informative, interactive maps with filtering options.

–          Information on the parameters that drive the status indicator.

–          Links to other FAA UAS resources and regulatory information.

The app will allow the model airplane pilots to have access to the information, provided they have a cell phone signal. B4UFLY obtains the information from public data sources and packages it so it is user friendly, the FAA said.

The agency plans to release a full version of B4UFLY to the general public before the end of this year. The beta test is only for IOS devices, but the FAA is working to ensure the full version also will be compatible with Android devices.