Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today.
Unmanned aircraft systems have become extremely popular in recent years. With that popularity has come growing concerns – about the safety of these aircraft, and their effect on our nation’s airspace. For example, you wouldn’t have to look far to find a recent headline about an airline pilot seeing an unmanned aircraft while flying.
Technology has made it so that almost anyone can operate an unmanned vehicle without any prior aviation experience. At the same time, technology also provides us with an opportunity – to give these users the tools and knowledge they need to operate safely before they fly.
I’m pleased to announce today that the FAA is unveiling a new smartphone app called “B4UFLY.” It’s a simple, easy-to-use app that answers a very basic safety question: is it safe and legal to fly my unmanned aircraft at a particular location?
Longtime members of the unmanned aircraft community may already know the answer to that question. Someone who got their first unmanned aircraft as a gift under the Christmas tree probably doesn’t.
That’s a knowledge gap we need to fill. The United States has the most complicated airspace in the world. We need to make sure hobbyists and modelers know where it’s okay to fly and where it isn’t okay to fly – because there can be very real consequences if you don’t. The incident on the White House lawn earlier this year is a good example.
We plan to make B4UFLY available to approximately 1,000 beta testers using Apple devices this summer, and we’ll be working on an Android app in the future.
The B4UFLY app is the latest action the FAA has taken to encourage the responsible use of unmanned aircraft. In December, we partnered with the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Small UAV Coalition, and our friends here at AUVSI to launch the “Know Before You Fly” campaign. This was an important first step in educating operators about the rules of the sky.
The B4UFLY app takes a lot of that information and puts it right in your pocket – available to use anytime, anywhere. It only takes a few taps to find out if you’re cleared to fly. While other resources like this exist, we believe B4UFLY will have the most user-friendly interface with the most up-to-date information.
To tell you more about this, I’m going to turn things over to Jim Williams, the manager of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Integration Office. He’ll walk you through some of the key features of the B4UFLY app.