More than 100,000 pilots now use AOPA's Real-Time-Flight Planner, the powerful online flight planning tool available free to AOPA members. And they're using it a lot - an astounding 40 years' worth of online time since RTFP was unveiled 10 months ago today at AOPA Expo in October 2003.
"AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner is a result of security-related flight restrictions that have become commonplace since the September 11 terrorist attacks," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA realized that pilots needed a way to see the temporary flight restriction [TFR] areas in relation to flight paths, so we turned to Jeppesen, a leader in the flight-planning software industry."
As more than 100,000 AOPA members have discovered, what Jeppesen came up with not only shows pilots airspace to avoid, it offers pilots a way to click-and-drag their way around not only restrictions, but weather as well.
To help members get the very most out of this exclusive member benefit, AOPA last month introduced a new online tutorial. This 15-minute interactive course provides new users with an overview of program and allows power-users to jump right to a specific feature to learn tips and techniques. Anyone can access the tutorial through AOPA Online.
The flight planner itself is Internet-based, requiring users to load only a small file that lets their computers "talk to" the servers where the actual program resides. Every time a pilot logs in, the program checks for the most up-to-date flight restriction information. RTFP displays both active and upcoming flight restrictions.
Pilots can store online up to five aircraft profiles and 10 routes and then access them from any Internet-connected computer. In less than 15 minutes, most pilots are able to plan their entire flight; receive a weather briefing including radar images and weather maps from either of the two government-contracted online weather providers; overlay the radar information on their flight planning screen; click-and-drag their flight path to circumnavigate weather or TFRs; print out a navigation log that takes into account forecast weather conditions; and file a flight plan with the FAA.
"We knew we had a winner on our hands from members' reactions when we showed Real-Time Flight Planner off for the first time at last year's AOPA Expo in Philadelphia," said Boyer. "To see so many pilots making use of it so often only proves that it was the right thing for us to do."
AOPA is a membership organization with more than 400,000 members, dedicated to protecting the interests of general aviation. Offering member benefits like AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner helps the association fulfill its three-fold mission of information, education, and advocacy.
August 30, 2004