Review: RunwayHD 2.5

RunwayHD version 2.5 GPS navigation app for iPhone and iPad, available from airboxaero.com from £49.99

Airbox’s established RunwayHD GPS navigation app has been significantly upgraded, version 2.5 featuring ‘enhanced’ vector mapping that includes airfield, ground feature and airspace representation, and allows full map rotation and de-cluttering. In the run-up to its release, the company loaned Pilot an iPad mini loaded up with v2.5, urging us to go and play with it.

Unfortunately, due to the editorial trip to Italy and none of the right days in December having the right weather, this was necessarily a desk-top evaluation — but we’d expect it to perform every bit as well in the air as previous versions. One neat touch that would have obvious benefit in turbulent flying conditions is the way that the chart options are summoned up by a ‘button’ close to the edge of the screen.

Those who are attached to their ICAO charts still have the familiar half-mil to play with, but the clarity of the vector chart will win them over. Brilliantly, as you zoom in, the airfield diagrams expand progressively to show more and more (digitised) detail. The old Pooley’s plate interface now looks clunky in comparison — and Airbox tells us the database includes over 35,000 airfields around the world.

As our screen-grabs show, we planned a short jaunt around three of the ‘usual suspects’ well-known to us — White Waltham, Wycombe Air Park and Blackbushe. Clear and accurate diagrams came up for each of these airfields. A notional diversion to Chiltern Park — one of those places popular with Cubbists and microlighters — revealed this to be one airfield that is not among the 35,000: however, its location is marked and the further v2.5 enhancement of Google satellite imagery allows it to be made out easily amid its immediate surroundings. By way of a further check, we made a virtual flight to southern Italy, where Tecnam base Capua’s runway at least appeared in digital form. Once again, the satellite image supplied the remaining airfield detail: as Airbox claims, v2.5’s vector map seems to serve well enough to navigate beyond the confines of the UK without needing to load up extra charts.

As ever with RunwayHD, the professional and rotary-wing user is especially well served by the OS map, and now military-style ‘hat boxes’ containing the vital nav info for each leg of a route have been added — a really useful feature.

Among numerous other enhancements, we noted improved RocketRoute integration and Notam display. Operation is also much faster and smoother, making RunwayHD one of the best GPS nav apps out there. airboxaero.com

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