AOPA Internet Flight Planner ready to fly

December 4, 2008

AOPA Internet Flight PlannerThe next generation of flight planning is here with the official launch of the AOPA Internet Flight Planner (AIFP).

The new flight planning tool concluded beta testing on Dec. 2, after receiving member input for more than one month. Testers have been amazed by the new flight planner’s capabilities.

Because AIFP is Internet-based, it will work on Macs as well as PCs and Linux-based systems, and it can be accessed from any computer, anywhere in the world with Internet access. It will replace AOPA’s Real-Time Flight Planner, which will retire from service on Jan. 16, 2009.

AOPA and the software engineers at Jeppesen teamed to develop AIFP, which still uses Jeppesen’s industry-leading database and flight-planning algorithms. The application itself, however, was created at AOPA headquarters by the association’s talented staff of Web developers. Because it was designed in-house, AOPA can react more quickly when members suggest upgrades or when new technologies are developed, ensuring that AIFP continues to deliver the best and most useful flight planning features around.

“We want feedback from our members about this program,” said AOPA Vice President of ePublishing Chris O’Callaghan. “We have developed this program in-house, so we can respond quickly to your recommendations, and our members can expect incremental improvements to the program on an ongoing basis.”

AOPA Internet Flight PlannerDuring AIFP’s unveiling at AOPA Expo 2008, the application was put through its paces by several thousand members. Their comments, overwhelmingly positive, also included some suggestions to improve the user experience. “How about a tips section?” came from one member. Another expanded: “And it would be great if pilots could share their own tips with the rest of the community.” A video “Tips” panel will soon be available in addition to the “Help” system, so users can quickly learn about AIFP’s many new features.

Other enhancements include: full integration with the AOPA Online Airport Directory, including airport and fuel price information; pre-loaded performance data for many of general aviation’s most popular aircraft; weather downloaded automatically as soon as the “Plan This Route” button is clicked; and a “Route” tool that allows a pilot to more easily alter the flight plan, including optimizing altitude for winds.

Members who have used Real Time Flight Planner during the past six months will find their pilot and aircraft information has already been migrated to AIFP.

AIFP does not have a rubberband function, something that many members loved about Real-Time Flight Planner. However, members have been won over by the ease with which they can add waypoints to a route just by double clicking on any navigable point, right clicking anywhere on the map, or opening the search panel. Reordering waypoints is a simple matter—just drag and drop them in the “Routing Tools” panel.

As always, unlimited use of the new flight planner is part of the $39 annual dues paid by AOPA members.