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Aloft to cease energy FAA B4UFly app, to as an alternative launch Air Conscious

The FAA B4UFly app is about to see some massive modifications within the new yr. Most notably, it’s not going to be managed by Aloft, the privately-owned startup that has been powering it since 2019. 

The B4UFly app is the centerpiece of the Federal Aviation Administration’s B4UFly program. The B4UFly program was designed to assist newbie or leisure pilots perceive the place they’ll and can’t fly.

You possibly can obtain the B4UFLY Drone Airspace Security app on the Apple App Retailer or Google Play Retailer.

However whereas Aloft will cease powering the B4UFly app, the B4UFly program is hardly going away.  The truth is, it’s getting greater. Moderately than counting on only a single partnership (because it had been doing with Aloft), it seems to be like the following model of B4UFly will incorporate partnerships with a number of non-public corporations.

“The B4UFLY program shouldn’t be going away, it’s truly increasing,” FAA spokesperson Rick Breitenfeldt informed The Drone Lady. “The FAA is partnering with a number of corporations who will combine airspace consciousness with airspace authorizations.”

Breitenfeldt stated to anticipate extra info on the FAA’s web site quickly.

The historical past of Aloft’s relationship with the FAA

Aloft had been powering the FAA’s B4UFly app since 2019. Previous to that, the FAA B4UFly app was created and operated fully by the FAA. With the Aloft presence got here a mega relaunch that entailed a extra user-friendly view of what real-time airspace restrictions are in impact within the U.S. It additionally introduced in easier-to-understand airspace steerage that included ‘Good to Go,’ ‘Warning’ and ‘Do Not Fly’ labels.

That was a particularly welcome change for the app, which on the time had a painfully low ranking of simply 1.5/5 on the Apple app retailer and an much more abysmal ranking of 1.5/5 on the Android App retailer on Google Play.

Ever since Aloft swooped in, evaluations improved. At the moment, the app has a 3.9 star ranking with Apple and a 4.0 ranking on Google Play.

Aloft FAA B4UFly app
Designs from the iOS model as of January 2023 of the FAA B4UFly app, as powered by AirAware.

What’s subsequent for Aloft? A brand new app referred to as Air Conscious

Whereas Aloft’s work in powering the FAA’s B4UFly app isn’t any extra, Aloft is hardly ending its function within the subject of airspace consciousness for drone pilots.

The truth is, it’s simply introduced a brand new partnership that would doubtlessly make it even greater. On Dec. 17, Aloft introduced the launch of Air Conscious, an all-new app made in partnership with an organization referred to as Pilot Institute (extra on them later). The Air Conscious app gives real-time insights earlier than, throughout, and after drone operations.

“It’s been an honor working with the FAA over the past 5 years to energy B4UFLY with Aloft’s UTM and airspace system,” Aloft founder and CEO Jon Hegranes informed The Drone Lady. “We discovered rather a lot over that point and we’re wanting ahead to bringing that information and expertise to a brand new app with a brand new companion in Pilot Institute.”

Aloft is asking their new app a alternative to the B4UFly app. Whereas the previous app principally centered on circumstances earlier than takeoff, Hegranes stated the brand new and improved app is all about “redefining situational consciousness to embody your entire flight lifecycle.”

Based on Hegranes, there’s a lot that Aloft wasn’t in a position to do with B4UFly, like enabling an indication so pilots can retailer their certificates, which he stated was a extremely requested characteristic. 

“Within the new Air Conscious app, we’re listening intently and actively soliciting suggestions for the place we must always take the platform,” he stated to The Drone Lady. 

The truth is, Hegranes stated they’ve already acquired a whole bunch of submissions for requested app options. He stated you may submit your individual app characteristic requests right here.

With the brand new Air Conscious app, you may nonetheless anticipate some comparable options as you’ll discover within the B4UFly app, together with Notify & Fly. It additionally contains Air Management – for superior fleet, staff, and airspace administration, and Geo – for public security and different verified businesses to publish security and compliance info instantly onto the Aloft airspace maps.

“You’ll nonetheless have official Aloft airspace info in Air Conscious, however you’ll be seeing plenty of new performance that simply wasn’t attainable earlier than,” Hegranes stated.

Designs of the Air Conscious app, designed by Aloft in partnership with Pilot Institute. The app launched in December 2023.

Aloft companions with Pilot Institute 

The partnership with Pilot Institute is one other key app characteristic. Pilot Institute gives programs on each drones and airplanes on subjects together with passing the Half 107 take a look at or the Non-public Pilot examination.

Pilot Institute, which claims to have educated over 250,000 drone and airplane pilots throughout the USA, is among the many handful of FAA-approved TRUST suppliers. Quick for the Leisure Unmanned Plane Programs Security Take a look at, TRUST is a requirement for passion drone pilots within the U.S. With it, passion pilots must undergo the course and easily on-line quiz by any of the TRUST-approved organizations, which embody Pilot Institute, UAV Coach, The Boy Scouts of America and others.

A brand from Pilot Institute promoting their programs for drone and crewed plane flying.

Amongst Pilot Institutes choices past the Aloft partnership embody programs on:

Aloft stated it can not difficulty updates to the B4UFLY software. As a substitute, Aloft will give attention to Air Conscious.

You possibly can obtain Air Conscious from the iOS App Retailer or Google Play Retailer or apply it to the online at https://airaware.aloft.ai.

“With Air Conscious, and our companion in Pilot Institute, we predict we are able to have an even bigger affect on this phase of drone pilots than we might earlier than by with the ability to supply a extra full and built-in software and suite of capabilities and content material,” Hegranes stated.

What concerning the present FAA B4UFly app?

Though Aloft has moved on, the present B4UFly app remains to be accessible for obtain and in good, working situation. 

“Within the meantime, drone operators ought to proceed to make use of the present B4UFLY app,”  Breitenfeldt stated.

With out Aloft, it merely means there gained’t be any extra new updates made by Aloft to the app. In fact, Aloft is actually not severing ties with the FAA.

“Going ahead, we proceed to look ahead to working intently with the FAA to advertise the protected integration of drones into the Nationwide Airspace System (NAS) and supply superb instruments and applied sciences for all drone pilots,” Hegranes stated. “Drones (leisure and business) already symbolize the biggest variety of pilots and plane within the NAS, and Aloft will proceed to advocate for the rights and talents for these pilots to entry and share the airspace.”

What about LAANC?

Ought to you must fly beneath 400 ft in managed airspace round airports, there’s additionally nonetheless the continuing LAANC program. LAANC, which stands for “Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Functionality” is a system that allows drone pilots to request automated approval to fly in locations the place they sometimes can not with out such approval.

A couple of dozen corporations companion with the FAA to offer that automated approval. The apps work by checking requests in opposition to airspace information sources similar to UAS Facility Maps, Momentary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) to resolve whether or not it’s protected for pilots to fly in these areas.

You possibly can see the complete listing of FAA-approved companions who present near-real time airspace authorizations and knowledge right here.

Amongst these authorised companions contains, sure, Aloft. The truth is, Aloft is the No. 1 FAA-approved LAANC service provider when it comes to variety of airspace authorizations issued. Aloft achieved a milestone with 1 million LAANC airspace authorizations in September 2023. It additionally introduced it had surpassed 30 million B4UFLY airspace security searches round that very same time.

LAANC is at the moment not a characteristic within the present B4UFly app, neither is it within the Air Conscious app. (It wasn’t attainable within the FAA-partnered model due to the no person registration potential). However, Hegranes hinted that native LAANC performance (versus linking to the Aloft Air Management apps or web site) is a characteristic being explored within the new app. 

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