THE GEAR • October 2018
If the words ‘flight path’ and ‘aircraft simulator’ are music to your ears, then you’re in the right place. For plane lovers everywhere our tech writer, Derek Adams, sources the cleverest apps that will take your inner aviation enthusiast to altitude
Flightradar24 (iOS & Android, £2.49) is plane-spotting nirvana for aviation geeks and an accurate way to keep tabs on any flight. Aside from providing live stats on every civilian passenger plane in the air – including flight path, altitude, air speed and estimated arrival time – Flightradar24 comes with an augmented reality function. Simply hold the phone up to the sky and the screen fills with icons relating to passenger jets in the vicinity. Now tap on an icon and read all about that plane’s relevant stats. As a bonus, you can select a cockpit view – replete with Google-style terrain mapping – and watch the flight from the pilot’s perspective. If you’re a genuine plane spotter, consider the Silver or Gold monthly subscription plans that provide detailed flight histories, extra information, weather layers and occasional emergency squawks for added tension.
SkyGuru (iOS and Android, free) was ostensibly developed for those with a fear of flying, but the app is just as fascinating for aircraft aficionados interested in the mechanics of flight. Rather cleverly, it predicts the processes and sounds of take-off, cruising and landing, keeping the user informed via messages, graphics and videos. Given that it’s all done using just your phone’s built-in sensors it is quite amazing, since the real-time syncing is remarkably informative. The app is free, but for access to all its functions you’ll need to purchase a ‘flight’ for £4.59 (or £19.99 for ten). Then, within 24 hours of take-off, type in your flight number and date, and the app will download the relevant aeronautic information.
If you’re a regular traveller – be it on planes, trains or automobiles – consider downloading the TripIt app (iOS and Android, free and paid for). It holds all your travel plans in one tidy portal and automatically gathers information from any travel-related emails you receive. For instance, when the booking reservation email for your next British Airways flight hits your inbox, the main information – date, time, flight number, destination, connections, car hire etc – magically appears on your TripIt profile. TripIt also provides a pin-protected area for your travel documents, such as passport, driver’s licence and next-of-kin information. And if you opt for the TripIt Pro subscription (around £35 a year), the app will alert you with real-time flight, check-in and gate change notifications.
Given you can now select your seat in advance, an app such as TripAdvisor’s SeatGuru (iOS and Android, free) guarantees you end up in a seat that suits your needs. Simply select the Seat Map Advice tab, type in your flight number and date of travel, and the app will list the type of aircraft you’ll be flying on, along with a colour-coded map of the seating arrangements. As it’s free, you may as well have this loaded on your phone or tablet so you’re well prepared when it comes to choosing the plane’s best seat.
Ever wondered what it’s like to fly a passenger airline without going anywhere near a cockpit? Infinite Flight (iOS, £4.99 and Android, £4.69) is arguably the most realistic and engrossing mobile aviation simulator on the market. It provides more than 40 free and paid-for aircraft, taking in 15 regions and all the world’s major airports – along with a tranche of smaller ones. The aircraft graphics are excellent – you can view your take-offs, cruising and landings from various perspectives – and the quality of the terrain mapping is perfectly adequate given that it’s just a mobile app. This game is so elaborate that, taking nerdishness to an extreme, you could feasibly launch it while in your passenger seat and fly the exact same route – in real time.
Make booking, boarding and accessing everything about your next flight even easier by downloading the BA app today