The Internet has long shed its image as a technology plaything; in fact, it has become an ingrained, and indispensable, part of many people’s daily lives. From e-mail to news on demand to instant messaging to any kind of research, the information highway is the world’s largest library and communications system–available at your fingertips and on your schedule.
And with hundreds of business aviation Web sites, people working in this segment of the aviation industry are increasingly relying on the Internet to help them do their jobs. In fact, just take a look around any FBO crew lounge and you’ll find many business aviation pilots pecking at their WiFi-connected laptops. Increasingly, pilots are even surfing the Web via handheld devices, from personal digital assistants (PDAs) to Blackberries to cellphones to new PDA/cellphone hybrids, such as the Palm Treo 700.
AIN recently asked readers to single out the Web sites that they find useful, and the response was as expected. Many replied that they frequent sites that feature flight-planning resources, weather information and aviation news.
But there is much more than these narrow categories available to business aviation pilots. In fact, the Business Aviation on the Web Directory available on AINonline (www.ainonline.com), AIN’s electronic sister publication, lists nearly 600 Web sites sorted into 24 categories. This list is continuously updated and will continue to expand to ensure that it remains the foremost resource for business aviation pilots.
The following is a selection of Web sites that business aviators and others in the industry should find useful, providing launching points for Internet novices
or helping experienced users expand their virtual horizons beyond what is in their personal-favorites list.
Impressions in Flight
Kim Inlow–owner of Kansas City, Mo.-based Finishing Touch, which specializes in corporate aircraft detailing–recently expanded her business by opening ImpressionsInFlight.com, an e-commerce Web site for the corporate aviation community. According to Inlow, the online store offers hard-to-find items for corporate aircraft–from cleaning products to galley items to refreshments. For several years Finishing Touch has located, purchased and supplied stock, equipment and aircraft-approved detailing chemicals for its clients. And with the online store, anyone can get these items, all of which the Finishing Touch team has tested. “We found that an excessive amount of our time was spent finding and purchasing products and supplies that would work for our clients’ particular aircraft,” Inlow said. So she decided it was finally time to put together a one-stop shop for the corporate aviation community. ImpressionsInFlight.com has more than 250 different products available, though the company is constantly adding items to the catalog. The current product categories on the site are: exterior; security; comfort/safety; interior; Townsend leather; clean-flush additives; crystal glassware; galley accessories; doilies; linen-like guest towels; pre-moistened wipes; condiments; crackers; coffee; tea and drink mixes; snacks; candies; and mints and gum. Inlow claimed the prices are competitive.
Flight Safety Foundation
Welcome to aviation safety on the Web. The Flight Safety Foundation is known internationally for providing timely, practical and objective information to FSF members and everyone concerned with the safety of flight. This site extends the reach of information by providing FSF publications, news releases, member services, products, seminar registration and other important information about FSF. Visitors can browse summaries of the association’s comprehensive publications collection (more than 12,000 pages of seven scheduled FSF periodicals from 1988 to present) after completing the free sign-up process. Additionally, users can participate in online forums or order aviation safety products from the foundation.
International Business Aviation Council
IBAC is a non-profit, non-governmental association that represents, promotes and protects the interests of business aviation in international policy and regulatory venues. Its Web site is a valuable resource for those in the business aviation industry, including information on everything from International Standards for Business Aviation Operations (IS-BAO) to international ELT requirements to security guidelines for ground handlers. Visitors can also get information about how to obtain an IBAC Aircrew Card, which helps airport officials identify business aircraft aircrew and expedite clearance and security formalities. Other features of the site include bulletins, a resource library, links and a calendar of events.
Billing itself as the world’s weather authority, this Web site largely lives up to that claim by offering a wealth of weather data. There’s even an aviation section, dubbed PilotWeather, that has both basic (free) and premium (paid) aviation weather services. Basic aviation weather services include forecasts for more than 55,000 cities worldwide; route weather briefings; visible and infrared satellite images; airmets, notams, pireps, sigmets and aviation area forecasts; raw, decoded and plain-language terminal observations; terminal area forecasts; flight rules; hundreds of weather maps; a severe weather section; and a hurricane section. Premium services also offer direct FAA flight-plan filing on the Web; real-time Nexrad Doppler radar images; 10-day forecasts for more than 55,000 locations worldwide; and hour-by-hour weather. A newly added premium-service feature is the Planner, which yields a complete two-week snapshot of the weather on a single Web page for a specific area or areas. Another new paid service is Premium Wireless, which allows subscribers to access a wide range of textual and graphical weather information via their cellphones.
National Air and Space Museum
The virtual home of the National Air and Space Museum offers something for the aviation history buff in all of us. Visitors can view live Web cams at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport, as well as find out what the past, current and future exhibits are at either the “annex” or the original NASM on the National Mall. Additionally, the site includes information about what aircraft restoration projects are in progress, educational resources and lists of aircraft and artifacts at both museum locations. And for those looking for a gift for a fellow aviator, the site includes a link to the online NASM store.
Climbto350.com is a career network site that job seekers can use to expand their careers. The site provides continuous access to the most progressive companies, as well as interactive tools to make the networking process effective and convenient. The Web site features online résumé posting, an online aviation jobs board and a wireless jobs board for those people who want to use their cellphones to view current job openings while away from home. For employers, Climbto350.com offers recruiting solutions, including free job postings, résumé searching and screening and real-time recruiting through a résumé database.
At first glance this site doesn’t look much different from other OEMs’ sites, complete with its product information, news releases and customer newsletters. However, the Web portal’s education section is a treasure trove of interesting information, even though it’s meant as a learning resource for schools. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the education section is “Journey through a jet engine.” (From the home page, click “education” on the right-hand panel, then click “information for schools” and finally “journey through a jet engine.”) If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go through a jet engine (and live to tell about it) or at least wanted to learn more about what’s going on in the back end of your airplane, then this is the destination for you. The main part of the screen shows you as an air molecule passing through a running turbine engine, while the pressure, temperature and airspeed gauges on the right yield data on what exactly is happening as you virtually travel through the inlet, compressor section, combustion section and turbine section before exiting the nozzle. Another fun educational resource allows visitors to “build” their own jet engine.
Eclipse Aviation is literally baring all on the Internet, at least for its very light jet, by including a real-time program progress timeline on its Web site. Eclipse’s site feature, added last March and called “Track Our Progress,” provides an unprecedented window into the development and certification process for a new aircraft. The company has posted more than 200 tasks and milestones leading up to next year’s expected FAA certification of the Eclipse 500. Each of these milestones has a due date, and as the Eclipse 500 program progresses the actual date each goal is achieved is noted and the majority of completed milestones are illustrated with photos and details. Eclipse’s virtual home also includes a company store, news and information and specifications for the Eclipse 500.
Those who want to find the lowest fuel price at their next destination should plan a trip to UVair’s Web site. By simply entering the ICAO/IATA airport code, visitors can get real-time price quotes from several FBOs on the airfield. The quotes show both the posted airport price and the discount for UVair cardholders. Since UVair is a division of Universal Weather & Aviation, there are links to services and products the flight-planning parent company offers.
Pilot Medical Solutions
Since pilots need to stay in good health to continue to fly, it’s no surprise that there’s a Web site devoted to aviation medicine. Left seat.com is the award-winning place where pilots and aviation medical examiners (AMEs) worldwide obtain information and assistance via the Web. Visitors can find an exclusive list of flight surgeons who are pilots and aviation medical examiners, hundreds of pages of free aeromedical information, free accurate answers to anonymous aeromedical questions and pre-certification screening, which includes online practice FAA medical evaluations. Additional resources include tips for passing your next FAA medical exam; FAA-approved medications; special issuance (waiver) specifications; the AME guide; the federal air surgeon’s bulletin; fitness and nutrition information; FAA medical regulations; and FAA medical standards and protocols. The company also provides the following services for a fee: accelerated FAA medical certification; confidential assistance for airline, corporate and private pilots; amnesty petitions for previously unreported conditions; and person-to-person hands-on collaboration.
NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
This site should be bookmarked in every aviator’s personal-favorites list, and not just because it contains ASRS incident-reporting forms that could provide immunity from FAA enforcement. While that in itself might warrant bookmarking it, the site is also an aviation safety resource goldmine since users can search the incident database to learn from others’ mistakes. Additionally, visitors can read the Callback newsletters and ASRS program information, as well as browse the useful aviation safety links on the Web page.Aerolinkwww.aerolink.comIf you’re looking for an aviation-related Web page and don’t want to sift through the search engines, then Aerolink.com is a good place to start a more focused search. This aviation Web directory includes almost 10,000 links organized in 486 categories. The database is updated and verified frequently, making it a valuable, easy-to-use resource for aviation industry professionals. A “quick search” box helps users find exactly what they’re looking for, while those looking for a general topic might want to browse the appropriate category listings.
Air Security International
In this post-9/11 world, security isn’t something that is taken for granted in aviation. To this end, the online home of Air Security International, a division of Air Routing, includes free and paid security information services for the business aviation community. The free online information includes access to Hot Spots, which is a daily newsletter outlining any security-related incidents, or potential incidents, throughout the world. Paid security services run the gamut from security management and consulting to kidnap and ransom support to global threat monitoring and everything in between.
JustHelicopters.com is the online resource for helicopter pilots, students, mechanics, employers, operators or businesses, or rotorcraft enthusiasts. The site includes employment listings, helicopter business advertising, aircraft and parts sales, flight schools, classifieds, free stuff and a forum (the helicopter world’s premier message board), among other things. The site is partially owned and operated by Lyn Burks, an EMS pilot who flies an S-76C+ in the Southeast.
FBOWeb.com is a flight-planning site that allows pilots to obtain detailed information on airports, their runways, frequencies and services available, navaids, airways, intersections and other parts of the National Airspace System. In addition, users can also create and store frequently used flight plans, which can even be filed automatically with the FAA (requires account with GTE DUATS). The services available on FBOWeb.com are also available through wireless handheld devices, such as the Palm VII. This means that users of these devices can access airport information wirelessly, get the latest METARs and TAFs or file a flight plan. In addition, visitors can use the site to track flights that are on an IFR flight plan, and an airport summary feature allows FBOs to see which flights are due inbound, when they will arrive, what type of aircraft they are and where a particular aircraft is located at any given moment.
Via its Web site, GPS Pilot provides several Palm-GPS applications for personal uses such as digital atlas and tracking systems for recreational activities, flight-planning and in-flight navigation tools and a vehicle navigation system. The GPS Pilot Fly software includes dynamic preflight and in-flight navigation tools, such as preparing dynamic multi-leg flight plans. In the air, pilots can connect a GPS and follow their course on maps and legs with automatic recalculation of heading and destination. Once on the ground at your destination, the TripPilot software has a route planner with driving directions on interactive maps, so you’ll never get lost while trying to get a bite to eat or finding your way back to the FBO. Other available software for download includes atlases, maps and other navigation products.
Billed as the busiest aviation hub in aerospace, Landings.com is one of the original aviation directories on the World Wide Web, dating back to at least 1994. Since then the site expanded greatly as the Web became a more widely known resource in the late 1990s. Today, Landings.com includes aviation news clips, flight-planning resources, aviation forums/message boards and links to more than 10,000 aviation and aerospace Web sites. The site’s search/reference section contains links to various aircraft databases from around the world, among a variety of other useful resource links.
Thirty Thousand Feet
Thirty Thousand Feet is a directory of Web pages, news, newsgroups, mail lists and other online resources devoted to aviation. This site contains many sections, each representing a specific aviation-related subject. Clicking a section name brings up the respective page with all its links, and many section pages are further subdivided into subject areas, which users can see by scrolling down the page. Alternatively, visitors can jump directly to those subject areas by clicking on their name on the left side of the section page. A search feature is also available to help locate pages on this site.
If you know youngsters who are interested in aviation, then direct them to this Web site. Developed by NBAA, AvKids is a program designed to educate elementary school students about the benefits of business aviation to the community and the career opportunities available to them in the business aviation industry. The site’s contents can help transform a child’s flights of fancy into a fun educational experience that may lead to a rewarding career path. Visitors to the site can download a copy of the AvKids Activity Guide and Teacher’s Resource, which incorporates science, math, geography and language arts skills to help students in grades two through five better understand aviation, particularly business aviation.