NBAA Convention News

RocketRoute Enters U.S. Flight Planning Market with AC-U-Kwik Alliance

 - October 22, 2013, 9:55 PM

Any flight-planning product called RocketRoute (Booth No. C9430, N1216) ought to be quick, and company co-founders Kurt Lyall, Justin Coelho and Uwe Nitsche promise that their IFR flight planner can create even the most complicated international routings fast, all through the wonder of clean sheet software and cloud-based processing.

“Our cloud-based processing means that the pilot or dispatcher using RocketRoute can access it from any device or operating system, be it smartphone, tablet or computer,” Lyall said.

The program has been around since 2009 in Europe, racking up 35,000 users and processing more than 600,000 routes. “We started with the most complicated airspace out there, Europe, which can, on any given day, have more than 30,000 flight restrictions for a pilot to sift through in order to plan a flight,” said Lyall, explaining why fine-tuning RocketRoute for the North American market was simpler than it looked. Recently, RocketRoute said it had reached an agreement with Skyguide in Switzerland to resell their approach charts through its interface, further enhancing its product for European operations.

“The FAA, contrary to what people told me, were wonderfully organized and easy to work with, government shutdown and all,” explained Nitsche.

“The real key to our arrival in the North American market was finding the right partner,” continued Lyall. That was AC-U-Kwik, which will deliver RocketRoute’s flight-planning services to business aviation operators throughout the continent, under the strategic alliance agreement announced at NBAA 2013.

“Both companies share a vision and passion to simplify flight planning and dispatch,” continued Lyall. RocketRoute includes everything dispatch and pilots need in one quick, multi-modal app. It allows them to plan a flight based on weather, flight restrictions and aircraft capabilities. It can file the flight plan in a native ICAO format that is acceptable to the FAA as well, and provides an updated trip-kit to the pilot via phone app, tablet/EFB app, or computer browser. Best of all, subscribers have access to live help from RocketRoute dispatchers at any time during flight planning.

Pricing begins at $85 per year for flight departments (or individuals) with a single piston aircraft and rises to $950 for a flight department with a single turbine-powered aircraft.

During a pre-NBAA webinar the Guildford, UK-based company, gave a demonstration of the product, which it has recently enhanced to make it more useful for corporate flight departments, and to incorporate charts for regions such as the U.S. and Brazil. One customer in particular had driven development for business aviation, said Nitsche. “We can now do full routing to alternates with airways routing, “ he said, “and have added the NAT track system, so NAT track Notams will be added to the briefing pack.” There is also a new icing charts option, and a flight log that generates “full routings and fuel calculations on one sheet.”

Another enhancement is the addition of fields for crew members, including drop-downs for contact details, and block times. These are all aimed at moving RocketRoute towards corporate flight department use, from starting out as a popular light aviation VFR/IFR planning tool (which was particularly useful during the 2012 London Olympics, when flight plans were required for all flights around the London area).

Nitsche added that “later this year we will add multiple performance information for each aircraft. Another feature he demonstrated on the webinar was the ability to easily request slots at airports, and quick links to allow Skype calls to be made. Finally, flight departments can customize their briefing packs and handling/slot requests to FBOs with their own logo and details.

All in all, RocketRoute believes it has now arrived in the business aviation world. “We’re seeing routes being generated around the world–Asia, Africa, the Middle East–and we are starting to see activity in the U.S. as well,” said Lyall.