Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta made the announcement yesterday.
The app is the latest in a series of efforts by the FAA to inform drone users of federal rules and regulations. The app is essentially a flight planning tool. The FAA considers drone pilots aviators. The app uses an aviator’s location to alert the aviator “about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS)” where they are planning to fly.
“We expect B4UFLY will help raise public awareness about what it means to operate unmanned aircraft safely,” Huerta said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. “It is another important part of our education and awareness efforts to foster a culture of safety and accountability for the UAS community.”
The B4UFLY app provides a status indicator that includes:
- “Proceed with Caution”
- “Warning – Action Required”
- “Flight Prohibited.”
I fired up the app and received the following status. From where I am sitting I cannot fly.
The reason is that I am within 5 miles of an airport. What came as a surprise is that the airport is not Boston Logan airport, but an airport the app labels simply as PG. Apparently, airports include helipads. PG, whatever that is, may have one. Other airports within 5 miles of my house include the Boston Globe, Boston Medical Center, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Here is a screen shot of the app’s map of my area. The airplane icon toward the upper right would be Logan Airport; the one toward the lower left would be Norwood Municipal Airport. The rest are private helipads.
The app also features a planner mode that allows users to select a different time and location for an upcoming flight and determine if there are any restrictions at that place and time.
The FAA in its release states:
By law, hobbyists who want to fly within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and the air traffic control facility (if there is one) prior to flying. For now, B4UFLY will ask users who are supposed to notify the airport before flying for voluntary information about their planned flight. This will not meet the statutory requirement to notify the airport and air traffic control facility, but the data will help the agency make informed policy decisions related to notification. This information will not be publicly available.
You can find more information on their B4UFLY webpage.