The B4UFLY app by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is going to be rejuvenated. However, instead of third-party outsourcing or the FAA’s employees getting in on the act of overhauling the app, a startup headquartered in San Francisco is coming to the fore. The FAA has selected Kittyhawk to revitalize the B4UFLY app is a fantastic example of public-private collaboration. The app will be powered by Kittyhawk’s platform. B4UFLY is a free app that was built to assist pilots in abiding by the rules and regulations in relation to drones framed by the FAA.
However, the app received a dismal 180 reviews out of which it was able to garner a 1.5/5 average rating on the iTunes app store while the app received a severe beating on the Google App Store as it got an average rating of 1.5/5 out of 1,107 reviews. Consumers have come down hard on the app and termed it as full of flaws and too slow for anyone’s liking. Tons of issues have been reported such as the app thinking that the user is in the vicinity of an airport when they are not in reality and inappropriate information about areas wherein drones can be flown or not (which happens to be the primary goal of the app).
Joshua Ziering, Kittyhawk founder, informed that the rejigged version of the app will be a whole different from the original one and will not be employing any of the existing codebases. In an interview with the Drone Girl, he further said that the app will be absolutely as fresh as new as the crew at Kittyhawk had already started working on the technical requirements and scope and was gearing up to have something to show to the bosses by the middle of the year. The app will be built on Kitthawk’s innovative Dynamic Airspace product which enables operators to take a view of the airspace around them along with their authorizations, locations, annotations, and the points of interests of companies in close proximity to one another with the ultimate aim to bolster situational awareness in drone flights. The app will remain free for consumers.
Ziering was optimistic that the future versions of the app could see the incorporation of features such as remote identification and the UTM system depending on the feedback they get from the FAA.
FAA posted a request for information last year which culminated in a three-year partnership with Kittyhawk after a series of interviews. Kittyhawk has been a startup known for its propensity towards commercial aspects of drones but the B4UFLY is primarily designed for hobbyist drone pilots.
In a statement issued by Kittyhawk, the founder alluded to Kittyhawk’s original mandate of working on the enterprise side of drones and now shifting focus on an app strictly built for the enthusiasts.
He said that his company envisaged that there was a need to build our industry alongside our company. He further said that the company aimed to come up with more innovations for its enterprise customers. The statement read that flights can be disrupted when airports are shut down due to reckless use of consumer drones and national security is compromised. The exclusive agreement with FAA comes across as a massive boost for the burgeoning startup which has already seen some success of late.
The terms of agreement promise that private collaborators will have access to FAA’s resources and regulatory experts along with data and its interpretation. The agreement also goes onto enunciate that the partners could also gain ownership or management of the API depending on the partnership model. Moreover, partners could also enhance their partnership with FAA on unmanned aircraft systems safety and education.
Kittyhawk has already been in the vanguard when it comes to drone regulatory policy as it has taken part in projects such as a remote identification demonstration along with tech giants such as Project Wing and also serving as a LAANC service provider in the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) project.
Co-founded by Joshua Ziering and Jon Hegranes, Kittyhawk was established in the spring of 2015. The company started as a post-flight logging utility and subsequently ventured into operations including mission planning, pre-flight checklists, real-time flight traffic tracking, and flight logging. The company is also being funded by Boeing’s HorizonX and other investors including Bonfire Ventures and Freestyle Capital.