visualizing flight paths

Just the other day we talked about a new Google Earth feature that let you track flights in almost real time. Today we have a more artistic visualization of very similar data by Aaron Koblin.

At first this may not seem to interesting.. but try zooming in. Go to the site and zoom in a little more. Does this give you an idea on how many flights you can see? All those hair thin lines are a single flight.

There is also a collaboration with Wired Magazine and FlightView Software, where flight path renderings show the altitudes, makes, and models of more than 205,000 different aircraft being monitored by the FAA on August 12, 2008.

Cool to look at.

track planes in near real time in Google Earth

Google is partnering with Flightwise to bring you a new service that can show you where each and every US flight is in almost real time.

When you hover on any of the planes you see it will give you the airline, flight number, and an up to date path. If you click on it you’ll get the extended information bubble with departure and arrival times, and an option to download its path.

FAA has some regulations and restrictions so all the data is lagging behind about 15 – 20 minutes. Nonetheless you’ll have the correct coordinate and the altitude… via

Pilot My-Cast aviation app gets upgraded

Garmin’s subsidiary Digital Cyclone just upgraded their iPhone app to include fuel prices and approach charts.

The real time fuel price information can now be accessed from your iPhone. Of course this is not your regular wimpy unleaded 87 grade gas. Pilot My-Cast will display fuel prices for 100LL and jet fuel at your current airport and along your route.

The approach charts are from National Aeronautical Navigation Services Charts (AeroNav Services) and allow pilots to find AeroNav Services Departure Procedures (DP), Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STARs), approach charts, and airport diagrams.

The app is for US and Canada and costs $10/mo or $100/yr. Other features of Pilot My-Cast include the ability to overlay weather information on your route, plan a flight, and more.

Garmin GPSMAP 695 and 696

Garmin just announced new chart capabilities for the GPSMAP 695 and GPSMAP 696. Soon you will be able to refer to georeferenced Garmin FliteCharts. With its 7″ portrait style screen pilots will be able to view the entire approach plate, and see their plane’s exact position while monitoring other tidbits of information on approach charts.

With Garmin GPSMAP 695 and 696 if the current approach is known, it will automatically select the correct chart based on the flight plan.

You will have to wait until 4th quarter of 2010 to get your hands on the new georeferenced version of Garmin FliteCharts. It will cost one-time fee of $500 and can be enabled at

Google Maps updated on Virgin America

Google just announced that they updated the Google Maps data shown on touchscreens of every airplane seat. This is part of their continued partnership as Virgin America is a ‘high-tech’ airline offering in flight WiFi. The newly improved Google Maps for Virgin America – just like every other map in the sky – shows you where you are. But with Google you can zoom and pan to explore. The newly added features now include terrain view and fresh Google data so the maps are not only prettier, but also highlight mountains, elevation and other natural features.

As Google describes it in their blog:

…it more closely matches what you’d actually see if you had cloud-penetrating eyesight and looked out the window from 35,000 feet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Garmin G500H Helicopter Flight Display

There’s no vehicle Garmin won’t put their gadgets in. The latest is the Garmin G500H Helicopter Flight Display which recently got FAA’s approval.

It’s an all-glass avionics system designed for VFR Part 27 helicopters. Its PFD can either be on the left or right and it can display attitude, airspeed, vertical speed, altitude, and heading information. The MFD shows moving maps, helicopter’s current position in relation to terrain, chart data, and flight plan routings.

G500H is already available for an introductory price of $25000. Yes, that’s 25 thousand dollars.

SafeNav: GPS navigation system for airport runways

This is called the SafeNav and it’s an airport vehicle navigation system designed to make airport runways safer.

SafeNav is powered by Garmin and it enhances the situational awareness of airport vehicle operators regardless of visibility and other conditions. It provides a moving map of the vehicle’s location on the airport just like any other car GPS navigation system. It includes built-in maps of 950 U.S. airports, provides real-time tracking of vehicle location on the airport on its 4.3″ touch screen, comes with geofencing to keep vehicles off runways and other sorts of alarms for potential runway incursions.

Not sure how much this costs.


There aren’t too many companies dealing with aviation GPS units out there. One of them is Garmin of course. The other one we see every now and then is the AV8OR. They recently had one of their units make it through FCC regulations though it doesn’t look much different than the Bendix/King AV8OR from Honeywell we talked about two years ago. Maybe they updated the hardware or just changed the software to make it suitable for helicopters…

Either way the AV8OR seems like a very capable unit. It can provide real time satellite weather data from NEXRAD and others , gives you airport information with a single tap, lets you plan flights, gives you a traffic avoidance option, and a lot more.

If all of that is not enough it will even work in your vehicle as a regular GPS navigation system. It costs around $600 on various online retailers. Here are some of the specs:

Read the rest of this entry »

Garmin G3X

Garmin just announced that they would include Synthetic Vision in their G3X. We’re not really sure what the heck Synthetic Vision does or what this G3X glass cockpit is capable of but it really sets Garmin apart from other names like TomTom, Mio, etc.

Aviation products has been a part of Garmin’s lineup since the 90’s and brings in a good chunk of their income. And do not forget their marine GPS units as well. In addition they have a really wide range of road GPS navigation units, offer one of the best solutions for athletes (even golfers), great handhelds for those who like outdoors, and, and, there’s that nuvifone.

We always give them a hard time for being kind of expensive with their nuvi’s or zumo’s but it is not easy being a company that offers products that cost between $100 to $10000.

Keep up the good work guys. I hope you sell a lot of these G3X things.

garmin iPhone app for pilots: Pilot My-Cast

Garmin just announced today an app for iPhone and iPod Touch called Pilot My-Cast. This is a premium aviation weather, flight planning and flight filing application that will work in USA and Canada.

How it works is that you input your route, and then Pilot My-Cast overlays the flight path with the weather. The interface has options to give you quick access to routes, flight plan, weather, airport information and other settings.

Here is what you can do in more detail:

  • Routes: Create a route to any airport, fix or VOR in the United States or Canada.
  • Flight Plan: Create and file a flight plan and send to DUAT(s) providers.
  • Weather: Weather information including NEXRAD Radar, METARs and TAFs, lightning data, SIGMETs, AIRMETs, PIREPs, NOTAMs, winds aloft and more.
  • Airport Information: Access the AOPA Airport Directory

Is it worth the $10/month or $100/year cost? Well you’ll be getting your data from the up to the minute providers such National Weather Service, Environment Canada, and Federal Aviation Administration; so you decide. I guess you can always get there with your browser but it wouldn’t overlay your flight path with the latest weather maps…

Read the rest of this entry »