Tuesday, September 4, 2012

AOPA’s FlyQ is now available for Android

AOPA’s popular aviation weather and flight planning app is now available for Android platforms. Last spring, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association released the app for Apple products. The app is free for AOPA members.

Examiner reviewed the Apple version of FlyQ in April and the Android version is not fundamentally different. The app automatically finds the nearest airports when it is opened. The user can tell at glance whether the airport is VFR or IFR as well as other pertinent information like runway layouts and lengths, frequencies, distance, traffic pattern altitude and fuel available.

Selecting an airport brings up more detailed information including navaids and hours of operation. A more detailed airport diagram is available here along with a satellite picture of the airport. A weather tab shows a local radar picture and text weather reports. These can be viewed as raw or decoded reports. A particularly useful feature is the “nearby” tab which finds other airports near the one selected. This makes it easy to look for an alternate. The “services” tab which lists airport businesses and nearby restaurants is also handy. This tab also includes AOPA member comments and FAA notes. The app also includes a search function for airports and weather.

In addition to text weather, a gallery of charts is also available for the U.S. and Canada. These include freezing level charts, airmets, and sig progs. Radar and satellite views are also contained in the gallery.

The app can also use DUATS to file flight plans. This requires the user to input pilot and aircraft data the first time the app is used. This is a somewhat cumbersome process, but it need not be repeated after the information is entered for each aircraft type flown. The Android flight plans seem to be somewhat easier to use than the Apple version.

I have personally used the Apple version of FlyQ on the line for the past several months and have found it to be extremely useful. Other pilots that I have shared the app with have also found it easy to use and helpful as well, particularly for weather.

The app is not without flaws, however. A major problem is that the app downloads weather each time it is opened. This means that, unless you have a wireless connection in your plane, weather information is not available in the air. It would be helpful to be able to recall the weather without establishing a connection in case you want to take another look at the last TAF, METAR or review the NOTAMs while enroute. This is especially annoying because most users will not be able to print from their phone or tablet. Airport data is downloaded once per month and is available offline.

Second, the Apple version defaults to the raw (coded) weather reports, while the Android version uses the translated reports. There does not seem to be a way to change this default. In either version, it would make sense to allow users to set their preference. Otherwise it would seem that raw reports would be preferable since the vast majority of pilots should be familiar with weather codes. While the default cannot be set, users can toggle between raw and translated reports.

Like the Apple version, the Android FlyQ is limited to U.S. airports. Canadian weather charts are available in the gallery, but there is no weather or airport data for Canadian or Caribbean airports. Flight plans cannot be filed to or from airports outside the United States. This limits the utility of the app.

Finally, many pilots seem to agree that flight planning is better left to other platforms. Most of the pilots that I fly with prefer to use FltPlan.com. Fltplan.com enables flight planning to destinations outside the U.S. as well as offering the ability to print flight plans and weather from a computer. It is free as well.

AOPA’s FlyQ app is not perfect, but it is very good. The weather and airport functions provide quick and easy access to information. Since the app is free for AOPA members, the price is right as well. In fact the app is more useful than some commercially available apps with similar functions.

Originally published on Examiner.com:


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