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JeffR
Using SkyVector as a front-end to more "official" flight planners
I am a recent user of SkyVector and am very, very impressed with it. As a career computer scientist and software designer, I applaud its interface design and its integration of all of its features. You've done a GREAT job! My only gripe is that it isn't intended for "official" flight planning use. I understand the liability issues involved here, so I have a suggestion. Why not allow using SkyVector as a "front-end" to other, more "official" flight planners, such as AOPA? Most such planners allow routes to be specified as a sequence of textual waypoint descriptions, separated by spaces. One can already copy and paste individual waypoints from SkyVector into the route field for such planners, but that is tedious and requires editing out special characters such as degree signs. However, you could easily provide an option to show SkyVector's waypoints in a linear sequence (text field) with proper formatting for one or more other planning sites. Then we could simply copy the contents of that SkyVector field and paste it into the route field of another planner. The other planner would become our "official" planning tool, taking all the liability for planning a route, just as if we had typed the route waypoints into its route field. One problem with this is the resolution of Lat/Lon waypoints, which some planners (amazingly) allow only to the minute, not to the second, as SkyVector does. When rubberbanding to a spot on a SkyVector chart, the resulting Lat/Lon is unlikely to be in exact minutes. I suppose you would have to handle this by rounding off to the nearest minute, ideally adjusting the plotted course to agree with this rounding, so that we could see if the rounding pushed the course line across some barrier, such as an airspace line. Another thought added 4/8/2011: Another advantage of this approach would be that each user could save the copied route information as simple text in a file on his/her own system and paste it into Skyvector's route field in the future as a way of restoring the same route without requiring any user-specific storage to be provided by the Skyvector site. To enable this, it might be better to include the departure and destination airports as "bookend" waypoints on the ends of the route, though these might have to be removed before pasting the route into some other planning site's route field.