Alphabet’s drone-delivery subsidiary Wing has launched a free mobile and web app, OpenSky, to inform drone pilots, both recreational and commercial, when and where it is safe to fly in the United States. Drone flyers can use the OpenSky app to see information on airspace restrictions, pre-plan flights, and get airspace approvals. This app has been available in Australia since 2019.
Ensuring compliance with FAA airspace rules
Wing is one of the 16 companies that are currently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) services. A LAANC approval is necessary if you are planning to fly your drone under 400 feet in controlled airspace around airports.
LAANC requests are checked against multiple airspace data sources in the FAA UAS Data Exchange, including UAS Facility Maps, Special Use Airspace data, Airports and Airspace Classes, as well as Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs). If approved, drone pilots can receive flight authorization in near-real time.
The OpenSky app can enable authorizations for operations like emergency response, commercial surveys, or film and photography sessions.
OpenSky safety app for drone pilots
In addition to providing LAANC approvals, OpenSky also allows drone flyers to check for FAA airspace information to see where they can and cannot fly. Operators can also manage and log their flights and permissions to their pilot profile.
Available to both Android and iOS users for free, the OpenSky app allows drone pilots to place a pin on any location on the US map. The pin changes colors based on the flight information in that particular region.
Further, specific areas are also marked with different colors on the map. Areas that don’t pass the checklist based on aviation regulations or other conditions are marked as red. The orange areas require drone flyers to take additional caution, whereas blue regions indicate there may be some obstacles present in the airspace, such as electrical transmission lines.
Why is Wing investing in an operator app?
The drone delivery company answers this question in a blog post:
With nearly two million registered drones in the US already, regulatory compliance of all drones will allow them to share the sky safely. Moreover, compliance will ultimately expand the uses and benefits of drones – among them emergency response, commercial inspections, and contactless delivery – to more people.
As a champion of an open airspace system, Wing hopes to encourage a stream of innovations that will support diversity, attract users, and grow the US drone industry. The OpenSky app is one of the many tools that drone pilots can use to participate in the airspace.