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RadarBox24 Pro
For Apple iPad Published by AirNav Systems
Reviewed by Rob Scott
January 2014

Introduction

Do you ever wonder where the plane passing over your house is heading? Or even what type of aircraft it is? Then read on.

Description

In a slight departure from the normal procedure of reviewing flight simulation add-ons, I have been having a look at AirNav Systems' RadarBox24 Pro app for the iPad (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/radarbox24-pro/id672979566). In the simplest of terms, RadarBox24 Pro is a live virtual radar of the skies above you, or anywhere in the world you care to look at.

I live below some fairly busy airspace with Doncaster Sheffield (EGCN), Leeds Bradford (EGNM), and Manchester (EGCC) airports all within 60 miles of me. Many of the aircraft which pass over my house are too high to make a formal identification but this app has changed that, well almost.

The Display Screen

The display screen within the app is a fairly common one using Google Earth imagery and allowing you to switch between road, terrain, satellite, and hybrid views - my preference is the hybrid view. If you want to have a less cluttered display, you are able to toggle on/off the aircraft labels, detailed aircraft icons, and hide aircraft which are on the ground. The last option is advisable if you are going to look at busy airspace, such as London. The settings also allow you to change the altitude, distance, and speed measurements between metric and imperial.


The Airspace Above

That is really as far as you need to go with regard to the set-up and there is no manual to speak of because the app is very easy to use. By default, it opens up with your current location centred on the map, but moving around is as simple as dragging/pinching your fingers on the screen, or performing a search for the flight number, airport, or location that you wish to track. A word of warning though, zooming out too far seems to cause the app to crash, e.g. when I wanted to see a Trans-Atlantic aircraft’s flight route, zooming out to show both North America and Europe caused a crash every time.


Flight Tracking

When you see an aircraft on the radar you want to know more about, touch the aircraft and a small window will open showing the aircraft’s departure/arrival, model, registration, altitude, course, speed, and squawk code as well as showing the route the aircraft has taken.


Flight Info

Another tab on the home screen will show you ‘Area Events’, which is basically a list of aircraft which have flown close by. If you want to track any of the aircraft, touch the aircraft and it will be displayed on screen for you. The same screen can also show you a list of departures and arrivals from any airport that you select, again, touch the aircraft and it will display it on screen.


Airport Area Events

Local Area Events

Sky View

Whilst all the above is pretty good, it is not really anything new. There are numerous webs ites which track aircraft (http://www.radarbox24.com for example) that are free to use. What they don’t have is the 'Sky View' feature.


Sky View Radar

Using 'Sky View' is quite easy, even if it will bring you a few strange looks from your neighbours. If an aircraft flies nearby, point your iPad at the aircraft and RadarBox24 will give you the same info as the 2-D Google map. The range it picks up can be set within the settings page from 5 to 100 miles. That may sound like a long way, but I have seen aircraft contrails which looked close, but were in fact 40+ miles away.


Sky View at Work

I have found it quite fun to see which aircraft are passing over my house. I even caught Roman Abramovic’s private Boeing 767 (www.airliners.net/photo/Boeing-767-33A-ER/1198393/L/) one evening. There was no flight plan available so I could not work out where he was going. Which leads me on to .....

The Bad Stuff

Whilst the app is quite fun to use, it does seem to be a little temperamental at times and crashes without warning. Also, some aircraft only have partial information, and I also think some of the flight plans are wrong, i.e. I saw a plane flying over the UK which had a flight plan between two American airports.

The app also only tracks aircraft that have an ADS-B transponder, meaning some aircraft will not be displayed. Sherburn-In-Elmet Airfield (EGCJ) is about 5 to 10 miles from my house and is a very busy GA airfield, yet none of these aircraft are displayed. Also, flights are only shown by their call sign and not flight number, which will mean you might not be able to track someone’s holiday flight. I tried to track my mother’s flight from Manchester to Fuerteventura but the flight was not listed because of this reason. I did have some doubts about this as I watched the airspace around Manchester at the departure time and around Fuerteventura at the arrival time and there were no Thomas Cook flights displayed on the screen.

Editors Note: Since the release of this review there has been an update to the software which appears to have corrected the app crashes problem. Thanks to AirNav Systems for the update!

Summary


All in all, this is a good app and it is quite interesting and fun to see what is going on above your head. Whilst the Google Earth style radar is nothing new, the Sky View feature is pretty good and is probably worth the £1.99 / $2.99 fee alone. The in-app crashes can be a pain, as can  having some aircraft not displaying that you know should be there. If you are interested in the airspace around you, and have an iPad, this app should be of interest to you.

 Rating   bronze
AirNav Systems' RadarBox24 Pro is awarded an overall Mutley’s Hangar score of 7.5/10, "Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Bronze Award.