The FAA’s B4UFly app helps drone pilots in the USA check for airspace restrictions and notifications before flight and also apply for authorizations to fly in controlled airspace through LAANC
. The app was initially developed by the FAA themselves, which received poor reviews and suffered from frequent crashes and sluggish responsiveness. In 2019, the app received a complete redesign and overhaul by the company KittyHawk (which changed its name to Aloft
Aloft recently announced
an update to the B4UFly application that allows for pilots to notify their flight before it happens. This is a voluntary disclosure process, but the company strongly suggests everyone to use it. The feature works by the pilot filing their flight anonymously, which is then marked as a blue circle on the map for the next 60 minutes. This is visible to all users of the B4UFly app as drone activity in that area.
The feature is a welcome safety addition. Anyone using the app can know of drone activity in the area, and increased information transparency leads to safer operations across the board. The missing piece of the puzzle however, is this - not everyone uses B4UFly. Many use Airmap, and other services to get their authorizations, and airspace information. Unless the data from B4UFly is shared across multiple providers through a data exchange program, the potential value out of this system is forever going to be limited.