It’s drone safety awareness week. And Kittyhawk has chosen today to announce two very cool new capabilities of its popular B4UFLY app. Drone pilots will be able to add information about local regulations that will help other pilots. In addition, new advisories that could impact flights will be added on a regular basis.
B4UFLY is a very popular mobile app, both in the US and globally. It’s a fast way to see at-a-glance if you have selected a safe location to fly. Developed in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration, B4UFLY has been the go-to app for tons of pilots. But while the app is great and does a lot of things very well, there were some things it simply did not do. For example, it couldn’t historically tell you if local regulations might ban drones from certain parks. It couldn’t tell you if a festival or other special event was being held at your favorite flying spot.
Now it can.
The key here, or part of it, is crowdsourcing: Let the pilots using the app fill in the blanks with hyperlocal information that would be beneficial for all pilots to understand. This approach makes sense. After all, who knows more about local rules than the people flying regularly in that location? The decision to make the change came from user feedback, according to Kittyhawk’s news release:
Over the last year, one of the biggest areas of feedback we’ve received has centered around ‘missing’ advisories. Drone pilots are seeking out information — both airspace and local ground rules — to understand where they should operate. When information relevant to takeoff and landing are missing, people question the validity of the data presented. With today’s update, Kittyhawk is addressing this in two ways — crowdsourcing advisories from users combined with publishing new authoritative local data sources.
This video predates the news, but gives a good idea of what B4UFLY offers to pilots:
In addition to the crowdsourced advisories, B4UFLY will also incorporate some new data sources. One of those data sources is the city of San Francisco, which welcomes the upgraded capabilities of the app:
San Francisco is a unique, dense urban environment with a robust drone community. We are constantly on the lookout for new innovations that can help improve our community, and also provide new safeguards for emerging technologies like drones. Making our rules easier to find, use, and access in the most widely used drone safety app is a major enhancement to our outreach efforts. Working with Kittyhawk and sharing our information with B4UFLY is an exciting opportunity to get what everyone wants, safe, and responsible drone flights.
Matthias Jaime, director, Committee on Information Technology, SF.Gov.
The app has been popular from the start. And now, says Kittyhawk, more than 6.5 million airspace safety searches have been logged. But, clearly, the company wanted to deliver more:
Kittyhawk is continuing to engage additional cities, states, and countries to include their data in the world’s authoritative database for safe and compliant drone flight. Drone pilots from over 200 countries have accessed B4UFLY looking for safety information, and we’re making it easier than ever to engage with your data. Simply download the app and submit your areas and advisories for review, or feel free to contact us directly at B4UFLY@kittyhawk.io. We’re dedicated to impacting the safety of the airspace and providing the ultimate resource to understand complete situational awareness.
For now, US only
The new features, for the moment, will only be available in the United States. And a reminder, from the FAA, that B4UFLY does not allow you to obtain permission to fly in controlled airspace. To obtain that clearance, you must go through the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC).