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Trip Management Web Sites

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AvnWx.com

This is the coolest interactive weather site so far. I’m including it here, as well as on the weather sites post, because it makes it easy to review weather along your flight path. AvnWx takes a Google map and overlays radar, AIRMETs, SIGMETs, and PIREPs. Rolling over airports shows the METARs. A balloon above the airport shows TAFS. You can click on the screen and drag it around route and see weather along the way.

Right click on the airport and a menu pops up. Options are NOTAMs, Airport Details, Open in SkyVector, Open in Weather Underground. The link to the FAA NOTAMs opens the site with the airport already selected.

The Airport Details link takes you to another page on the AvnWx site where information from the A/FD is presented. Along the right-hand side of the page are links to SkyVector for a sectional, a runway diagram, and a photo of the airport from Airliners.net.

The site seems to know where you are when you first open the page, probably from your IP address. You can change the location, the amount of detail, and the radius of the view with the Control Panel in the bottom left hand side of the screen.

If you want to save a particular location, say a frequent destination, you can use this link http://maps.avnwx.com/?address=KSBP&radius=10 to start you own customization. Just change ‘KSBP’ to the desired airport and change radius=10 to the radius you want. (10, 25, 50, 100, 250, or 500)

When you have the METAR on the screen, you can click on the map and view the 12 hour history. They also have the ASOS phone number.

NavMonster.com

NavMonster is one I just found out about from the CPA forums. It plots a great circle route and has tabs that you can use to view weather, fuel, lodging, AF/D, charts, FBOs, and airports. The weather data is presented as decoded METARs and TAFs for your departure and arrival airports as well as all of the airports within a user-defined corridor along the route. There are sections for winds aloft, radar, and PIREPs. It uses 100LL.com for fuel prices. It pulls the airport pages from the most recent A/FD.

I don’t see a way to print out the route once you’ve selected it. It knows about VORs (but not IFR waypoints), so you can use them in your route planning. I’ll have to experiment with this site a bit more, but it looks like it will work best if you do your route planning with something like DUATS and then input the waypoints into NavMonster.

The most innovative thing about this site, though I don’t know that they realize it, is that it lets you find alternate airports for your IFR flight plan. On the front page of the site they have a section for area forecasts within a radius of an airport. Put in your destination and the radius you are interested, click on the weather tab, and view the TAFs for all of the airports near your destination with weather. You can also use this to check the weather around your home location. Here is the weather for a 50 nm radius of KSBP. You can easily bookmark this for your own location or quickly explore alternate destinations and radii by changing ‘KSBP’ to another airport and changing to 50 one of the numbers in their pulldown menu.

Runway Finder

Runway Finder is another site that uses Google Maps to show your route and the weather at airports on the map. The neat thing about this site is that it lets you use a sectional as the underlying map and put VORs and IFR waypoints on the map. You can them plot out a route using airports, VORs, and waypoints. It dispays the distance for each segment and the bearing as well as total trip distance. You can switch between sectional, satellite, terrain, and map views.

AirNav.com

AirNav lets you look at fuel prices along your route or for selected airports. Click on an airport to get detailed facilities information. They have the information from the current Airport Facilities Directory as well as information on ownership of the airport, phone numbers, facilities on the field, and nearby hotels. Off to the side of the page in the ads are two features you might miss. First is an aerial view of the airport. I find these handy when flying to an airport for the first time. Second is a sectional view from SkyVector that is centered on the airport. This can come in handy if you are trying to locate an airport with low fuel prices, since the ones with the lowest prices are usually very small. Also off to the side is the current METAR and TAF. Click on a balloon over an airport to get the weather then click on the airport name to get details from the A/FD and more weather, including TAFs.

Landings

Landings has a planning tool for mapping a great circle route to your destination. One of the nice things about the tool is that it can show elevations along the route.

Great Circle Mapper

Another tool using great circle distance is the Great Circle Mapper. It calculates distance and time between airports and displays a map. The unique feature of this site is that it works for any combination of airports in the world, not just the US. It can show the topography along the route, but will not give terrain heights like the Landings site.

CSC DUATS

CSC DUATS is a comprehensive flight management site that is free to pilots after registration. Unlike the other sites, CSC DUATS on the Web provides immediate on-line access to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved information including:

  • Current, continuously updated weather information
  • Easy-to-understand plain language weather
  • Flight plan filing and closing
  • Automated flight planning

The site lets you store aircraft profiles and preferred routes. You can plan routes using Low Altitude Airways, Jet Routes, GPS/Loran, VOR navigation, or a user selected route. The route time and fuel burn can be estimated with no-wind or with current weather. This is the only flight planning site that I used until recently, so I’m familiar with it’s features and I like it for the simple flights I do.

DTC DUAT

DTC DUAT is another web site approved by the FAA. It takes some getting used to the format since it is different from most weather and flight planning sites. I can’t get the interactive weather map to work, so its not useful to me for weather planning. It probably only works on Windows. It doesn’t remember my ID and password so I have to look them up each time, which annoys me enough that I don’t use the site.

Flight Plan.com

Flight Plan.com is another approved web site for flight planning. From forum posts, it appears to be popular among Part 121 and 135 operations. (While waiting at an upscale FBO I was given a tour of the site by an Part 135 Pilot who uses it all the time for his personal and professional flying—he was very pleased with what it does.) It has weather and flight plan information and like the DUAT services you can file an IFR or VFR flight plan. You can also store flight plans and reuse them. It has lots of options for alternates at the destination, which is handy for IFR planning. You can also view DPs (Departure Procedures) and STARs (Arrival) and Approach Procedures. The weather isn’t particularly easy to use, but one nice feature is an overlay of your route with a radar map. One nice feature for IFR plans enables tracking of blocked flight plans that don’t show up in FlightAware. A monthly fee is required for this option. The home page is a mess and what look like ads are actually useful pages. Likewise, the airport information page is a mess. It has the same data as AirNav but presented in an extremely disorganized way. Update: They’ve added eAPIS capability for flying to Canada, Mexico, and the islands. It is reported to be extremely easy to use.

Low Cost Sites

AeroPlanner

AeroPlanner is a web-based flight planning service exclusively for US airspace that requires only a web browser (no software installation or update CDs). You can plan routes using the auto-routing functions or you can describe each navigation point based on airports, navaids, fixes, city names, or by just pointing to a spot on the map and clicking “Use Map.” All NACO (FAA)-produced terminal instrument procedures and navigation charts are available online with your route drawn and the charts streamlined to a “TripTick” type of presentation. Basic membership is $4.95 per month, free for EAA members.

Finding nearby airports

This question came up on a forum and is probably worth explaining. Probably the best way to find airports is to use Google Maps. Put in the word airport and then the city. e.g:
airport new bloomington, oh

Once you know the name of the airport or the city where it is located you can use runway finder or AvnWx to get information on the airport. They’ll let you see all nearby airports once you’ve found one. If the starting city has an airport—say Columbus, OH—then you can skip the google step.

RunwayFinder
Type the name of the city in the Location box at the top of the screen and a drop down will show airports.

AvnWx.com
Type in the name of the city, then hit the lookup button. A list of cities will appear on the right-hand side of the page.

NavMonster
Type the name of the city in the airport field in the region box.

My preference is RunwayFinder.com. You can move the map by dragging it and you can resize with the scroll-wheel. It automatically shows the weather and AIRMETs/SIGMETs as you move the map around.

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