November 2009 Issue
Free Flight Planners: Fltplan.com, FreeFlight
There’s no soup-to-nuts free solution, but Fltplan.com and FreeFlight offer the most bang. Almost anything they lack can be found just a couple of clicks away.
The first iterations of Fltplan.com had a clunky, Web 0.5 interface, but it was fast, flight plan filing was reliable and it sported a couple of unique features, such as seeing recently-assigned ATC routing between the airports. It quickly became a favorite of corporate flight departments and freight dogs. The user interface has improved (somewhat). While it still caters somewhat to the corporate flight world, we think Fltplan.com is the best all-in-one website to create and file a flight plan and grab FAA-legal weather. To really use the website, you’ll need to create a (free) login name, and appropriate aircraft and pilot profiles. This is a quick process where you can select from a long list of existing aircraft profiles or customize your own. With that done, you can either create a quick airport-to-airport plan or enter something with custom routing. Seeing recent ATC routes is a great plus, but if you’re traveling far you’ll likely see jet routes rather than Victor airways. Once you’ve built a quick plan, you can see headwind/tailwind factors and times at different altitudes. That data also appears in a nav log if you print one, so you can refigure times well if your planned altitude doesn’t work out in the real world. Additional slick features include tight integration with departure and approach charts, a Takeoff and Landing Data (TOLD) card, a system to fax the destination FBO directly and a well-organized weather page. Flight plans can also be saved in a format for upload into your G1000 or GNS 430. The site will also do flight tracking and offers some fee-based services such as eAPIS filings.
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