FAA Redesigns B4UFLY App After Updating Requirement for Hobbyists to Use LAANC
BY Isabella Lee6 August 2019
The FAA has launched a highly requested update to their B4UFLY app. The previous version of the app left much to be desired when it came to functionality and user-friendliness. Now, in partnership with Kittyhawk, the FAA has turned B4UFLY into a more reliable planning tool for recreational drone flyers.
Drone operators are always searching for solutions to mission planning, which, albeit time-consuming, is essential for safe and responsible flights. Before a flight, operators must gather information about airspace class, restrictions, NOTAMs, TFRs, and weather information. Historically, there has been a gap in comprehensive, easy-to-use, free airspace tools. Many operators, both recreational and commercial, find themselves parsing information together from multiple websites and resources.
The redesigned B4UFLY app does a better job bringing together some of the information drone pilots need into one place, but there’s still more work to be done. According to Kittyhawk, the app will continue to be updated with capabilities for weather, Remote ID, and additional data layers for uses in public safety, natural disasters, and emergency response.
Features of the New, Redesigned B4UFLY App
The redesigned app makes it easier to determine where it is or is not safe to fly. New resources have also been added to help drone operators stay on top of regulatory information.
Based on location, B4UFLY provides simple, easy to understand airspace guidance that includes Good to Go, Warning and Do Not Fly. The app also provides links to helpful UAS educational content, safety resources, and LAANC, the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability for obtaining authorizations to fly in controlled airspace.
These are the features currently available in the B4UFLY app:
- A clear “status” indicator that informs the operator whether it is safe to fly or not. (For example, it shows flying in the Special Flight Rules Area around Washington, D.C. is prohibited.)
- Informative, interactive maps with filtering options.
- Information about controlled airspace, special use airspace, critical infrastructure, airports, national parks, military training routes, and temporary flight restrictions.
- A link to LAANC, the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, to obtain authorization to fly in controlled airspace.
- The ability to check whether it is safe to fly in different locations by searching for a location or moving the location pin.
- Links to other FAA drone resources and regulatory information.
Kittyhawk put together this tutorial on how to use the newly designed app:
The app provides situational awareness to recreational flyers and other drone users. What’s still missing from the app is direct access to airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace. The app directs users out to follow a link to download Kittyhawk’s app, where they can then apply for access to controlled airspace through LAANC.
Recreational drone pilots are now required to use LAANC to request airspace authorization to fly in controlled airspace near airports. This new rule went into effect on July 23, 2019 as a result of the 2018 Reauthorization Act.
Kittyhawk Brings New Technology to B4UFLY
The new B4UFLY app leverages Dynamic Airspace, Kittyhawk’s patented airspace controller for managing real-time flight restrictions, authorizations, and guidance.
As an official LAANC UAS Service Supplier, Kittyhawk is able to source airspace data from the FAA directly. This enables them to provide up-to-date and accurate airspace data, vastly improving the flying experiences of all kinds of operators. Their products are designed primarily to serve enterprise clients, but the company has a mutual interest in the safe operation of drones by recreational pilots as well.
While the Wright brothers had a vast and soft landing area, drone pilots face sometimes complex rules and restrictions that can change quickly. Our goal with B4UFLY is to make knowing when and how you should fly simple, quick, and reliable.
—Jon Hegranes, Kittyhawk CEO and Founder
Let us know what you think of the redesigned B4UFLY app in this thread on our community forum.