Drone Flights Made Easier With Google Wing's OpenSky App
It can be challenging for drone owners to figure out where they can or cannot fly their drones. To help solve this problem, Google’s wing launched the free OpenSky App. It helps pilots find areas where they can fly their drones under FAA guidelines.
Alphabet, Google’s parent firm, helped make OpenSky a reality. Since 2019, the App has been used in Australia. But it is now accessible to commercial drone pilots and hobbyists in the United States. Users can use OpenSky for any commercial activity, such as surveys and photography.
OpenSky’s launch in the United States comes just in time. Drones have been receiving large amounts of regulation. Drone pilots who own and fly drones that weigh over 0.55 pounds or 0.24 kilograms are required to register them. In 2023, drones may need to broadcast their location during operation. Some of the other regulations are as follows. Drones:
- Cannot fly over federal facilities or people
- Must only fly within the pilot’s line-of-sight
- Are forbidden to fly at night
- Must yield the right-of-way to manned aircraft
- Cannot be in flight within five miles of an airport without prior permission
- Must weigh less than 0.55 pounds or 0.25 kilograms
OpenSky is available on IOS and Android, and it uses Goggle Map technologies. The App is a great help to those unsure where they can legally fly their drones. It has an intuitive color-coded interface to show where drones are and are not allowed.
- Green areas allow drones
- Yellow areas allow drones with limitations
- Red areas are a strict no-fly zone
There are also blue indicators that show obstacles, like electrical transmission lines. Pilots can type in an address or pin a location to view any specific rules that apply to their drone operation.
OpenSky allows pilots to get “near real-time authorizations” to fly in yellow-coded areas. This procedure applies to airspace under the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification (LAANC). LAANC provides pilots with automated authorization to fly in restricted or controlled airspace. However, it should be at heights no more than 400 feet through FAA Approved UAS Service Suppliers. Along with these features, OpenSky also lets pilots log and plan their flights.
The app has a few downsides, though. It is only available in the United States and Australia. It currently does not offer multiple languages. Lastly, it does not have Weather integrations.
OpenSky requires an Internet connection to operate. It might be wise to apply for authorization ahead of time. Then, take a screenshot and print out the flight authorization. Doing this allows users to provide to law enforcement in the area that they have FAA permission. Therefore, pilots can push through with the planned drone flight even when there is little to no reception in the area.
The release of OpenSky has aided pilots in following the United States’ regulations. And with the helpful features of the app, users can now have an easier time flying their drones.