The FAA has completed the beta test phase of its UAS operations app B4UFLY, which aims to educate operators about where they can and cannot fly their unmanned aircraft. The app can now be downloaded from the iTunes store and Google for use on a variety of smartphones and tablets.
While any mode of the app is active, there are four icons along the bottom of the screen that represent different functions. The first icon, “status,” shows the status for UAS operations in the airspace at your current location. You can also get more information, such as why flight may be prohibited at a particular location, by tapping icons on the screen.
In the “map” mode, the app shows airports (which operators have to avoid by a 5 mile radius) and other areas that you must avoid as a UAS user. Areas to avoid are highlighted on the map and you can tap on the icons on the map to get more information about each location. There are also two view options: a regular map view and a satellite view.
The “planner” mode allows the user to check the flight status at a particular location at a specific time and date. Finally, the “more” mode provides additional resources that could be helpful to UAS operators.
So far it appears the FAA could use some improvements for the app. It comes with all kinds of disclaimers (for example, there is no guarantee that it will keep your operations within the scope of FAA regulations. We’re not sure whether that means that operators need to do further research to make sure there isn’t additional airspace to avoid), and its rating (based on ratings of seven responders) at the Apple app store was just 2.5 stars.