Flight data at your fingertips

DIG IT AWARD WINNER: MOBILE

Flight data at your fingertips

The Aero electronic flight bag app is the biggest change in aviation since GPS, said Bruce Farnham, program officer at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Aeronautical Office.

Dig IT Award Finalists

The GCN Dig IT Awards celebrate discovery and innovation in government IT.

There are 36 finalists this year. Each will be profiled in the coming days, and the winners for each category will be announced at the Oct. 13 Dig IT Awards gala.

See the full list of 2016 Dig IT Award Finalists

NGA developed the cloud-based app to support military and first-responder aviators. It enables those pilots to download aeronautical information anywhere in the world from Amazon Web Services’ cloud.

The app’s constant data updates provide the more than 25,000 pilots who use it with the latest maps and route plans. Having fast access to accurate information helps ensure the safety of the military personnel who use Aero.   

“Recently, a KC-135 pilot lost all electrical power in the cockpit while flying a refueling mission over the Middle East,” Farnham said. “Having the Aero app allowed the crew to safely navigate out of the area. They navigated using the app for 45 minutes till they were able to restore power.”

Aero -- available for iOS, Android and Windows devices -- replaces binders filled with charts and graphs, which pilots had to prepare before takeoff and flip through for reference during flight. With the app, pilots now have touchscreen access to even more information, including 3-D moving maps and charts, a comprehensive airport facility directory, instrument approach procedures, arrival and departure procedures, takeoff and landing minimums, and weather information. 

“The easy access to worldwide data reduces planning time and eliminates prepping of paper products,” Farnham said.

Aero’s advantages are gaining international recognition, he added. Recently, a U.S. military ally asked for assistance in using Aero to set up its own electronic flight bag program.

About the Author

Suzette Lohmeyer is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

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