Editor's Note: Last September, Directions released a list and description of various no fly mapping applications. With the UAV industry rapidly accelerating, we wanted to update you with the latest developments. We've got the newer FAA forecast and added more no fly maps.
On March 24, 2016, the FAA released a report which predicts that total small unmanned aerial systems sales will increase from 2.5 million units sold in 2016 to 7 million by 2020. The forecast is further broken down into two categories: model aircraft (recreational) and non-model aircraft (commercial). Aircraft sales in the recreational segment are estimated to grow from 1.9 million to 4.3 million over the projected four-year period. Total unit sales of commercial aircraft are predicted to be far less than model aircraft, growing from 0.6 million to 2.7 million. Bottom line: more recreational drones, more problems.
A number of organizations are addressing the situation by creating no fly maps for drone pilots. In this article, we'll take a look at the latest maps and apps — but remember that the list and feature descriptions are incomplete because many of these services are in beta versions and new ones are coming online each month.
Airware is a well-funded startup — with over $70 million according to Crunchbase — that builds hardware and software, and provides cloud services for enterprise solutions. They are one of the first developers to integrate no fly maps into their insurance, agriculture, oil and gas, utilities and other UAS solutions.
B4UFLY is a free iOS or Android smart phone app created by the FAA that is available from either Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta was quoted as saying, "The FAA wants to make sure hobbyists and modelers know where it is and isn’t okay to fly...While there are other apps that provide model aircraft enthusiasts with various types of data, we believe B4UFLY has the most user-friendly interface and the most up-to-date information,” Huerta stated in a press release.
The app renders a clear fly status if there are no restrictions around your current location, provides information that creates the status parameters, makes available a Planner Mode that can be used for future flights at different locations, renders interactive maps, and supplies airport contact information and other FAA UAV links.
According to a May 6, 2015 article in Popular Science, the FAA has spent about $430,000 developing B4UFly. The app is also designed to complement FAA’s Know Before You Fly educational campaign for prospective UAV operators.
Image: Drone Buddy
Drone Buddy is an iPhone/iPad app that provides weather conditions, wind speed and direction, sunrise and sunset times and a no fly map. The no fly map includes 5000 world airports, military bases and national parks.
MyROZbills itself as the world’s first social drone application. Among other features, users are identified on the map and restricted flying zone, or Restricted Operating Zones, are rendered. Pilots can connect with each other and exchange information. The application is currently in beta and not live.