FAA Releases App For Drone Flyers

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The FAA released its smartphone app for drone flyers on Wednesday, reminding users that it’s a tool to help with legal compliance. The B4UFLY app is available for iOS devices. A beta version for Android devices also is available along with a link to provide feedback. B4UFLY uses map and airport data, along with real-time information such as temporary flight restrictions, to help drone operators decide if they’re legal to fly in a selected area. The app provides three status icons – “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning – Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.” For example, choosing a spot within five miles of an airport results in a colored circle on the map display and a “caution” icon, reminding the user that drone flights are prohibited unless the airport grants permission. A planner mode allows users to select times and locations for intended flights to check for restrictions.

The FAA announced it was developing the app in May 2015. It’s part of a series of public awareness programs for recreational drone users including the “Know Before You Fly” campaign and the drone registry launched on Dec. 21, which to date has topped 181,000 registrations. “The FAA is concerned about increasing reports of unsafe operations of unmanned aircraft near airports, over people, and in close proximity to manned aircraft,” the agency states on the app's information page (PDF). “If using B4UFLY prevents even a single conflict between manned and unmanned aircraft, this will support the FAA’s primary mission of aviation safety.”