National Airspace is a complex system to navigate and given the range of people who operate drones, anywhere from professional-level operators to kids flying for the first time, the need for up-to-date, accurate information is necessary to keep everyone safe. At the beginning of the year, Kittyhawk, a leading UAS Service Provider, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a partnership to update the FAA’s B4UFly App.
Last night, the months of diligent work finally came to fruition as the newly updated version of B4UFly was released to the public. “B4UFLY is a hallmark of our commitment to ensuring drones are safely integrated into the NAS. Our partnership on B4UFLY with Kittyhawk represents the kind of public-private partnership that is essential to advance this burgeoning industry. As the skies become more crowded and UAS operations become more complex, basic airspace situational awareness, especially for the newest of fliers, will be essential,” said Jay Merkle, Executive Director, FAA UAS Integration Office.
The app is free to download in both the iOS and Android stores. Since its initial launch in 2016, it has been used over 70,000 times. The latest updated version determines what airspace restrictions are in effect at any location in the United States, in real-time, so professionals, hobbyists, and government workers can easily determine if their planned flights are in compliance. B4UFly generates data from the FAA including temporary flight restrictions, National Park boundaries, controlled airspace, military routes, and special use airspace. Straightforward prompts such as “Good to Go,” “Warning,” and “Do Not Fly? will populate when a location is entered by a user.
“Kittyhawk was the birthplace of manned aviation and we’re proud to continue that legacy of innovation with the new B4UFLY app,” said Jon Hegranes, Kittyhawk’s CEO and Founder. “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.”
Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) will be included, free of charge, especially since the service became available to recreational pilots recently. Kittyhawk, on its end, has been working with the FAA and released LAANC 2.0, providing its service powered by the FAA’s latest data sources. Users looking to schedule LAANC authorizations up to 90 days in advance can do so through Kittyhawk’s own app.
The FAA and Kittyhawk plan to release more updates to B4UFly, in the near future, including new capabilities for weather, Remote ID, and additional data layers for uses in public safety, natural disasters, and emergency response. With all these tools in place, drones can continue to safely integrate into National Airspace and their reputation as safe and effective tools serving a variety of sectors will continue to be positively enhanced.