Almien.co.uk - Flight display

Basics

GPS and orientation data in a convenient layout. Free version is for use around one particular runway, e.g. for gliders or microlights. Paid versions include databases with airport locations for various regions (data from OpenStreetMap).

Very few permissions are required. It needs access to your GPS (obviously), and it tries to prevent the screensaver kicking-in while running. It won't display adverts, it won't connect to the internet, it won't try to obtain details of your phone, and all data required is included in the package

screenshot of a mobile phone displaying various types of GPS and sensor data, in a layout reminiscent of an aircraft display

Install via Android Market:

QR code linking to the application on android market

Warnings

The layout has been optimised for HTC desire and similar mobile phone displays, and will probably look weird if you run it on a device with much larger or smaller screen such as a tablet.

Please try the free version of Flight Display to check that the screen layout looks OK on your device before buying one of the paid versions.

Don't use in an aircraft without checking regulatory requirements. Don't rely on this for navigation. Read the entirety of this page and familiarise yourself with what is being displayed in each part of the screen and what limitations each display has.

Specifically, (a) it's not airspeed, (b) it's not barometric altitude, (c) it's not radar altitude, (d) it's not heading, and (e) the airport data was entered by random people on the internet.

This program will not warn you about loss of GPS signal (and certainly not within the timescales required by aviation GPS receivers)

Features

Groundspeed

Groundspeed in knots from the GPS.

Note: This location (at the left of PFD) is usually used for airspeed in real aircraft displays. However, the mobile phone doesn't have any easy way to get airspeed so we're just displaying groundspeed here.

Attitude indicator

Pitch and roll from whatever orientation sensor your phone has.

Depending on your phone, this might be coming from an accelerometer or a gyro. The accelerometer version is just looking for the direction of biggest acceleration, and assuming that direction is downwards (gravity). So this will be unreliable in situation where you're actually accelerating at a significant fraction of 1G.

You can store the current orientation as the "straight and level" reference, allowing the display to be used in situations where you don't want to mount the phone perfectly vertically within the vehicle. You probably want to mount it with the screen facing away from the direction of travel (i.e. not pointing the phone sideways, up, down, backwards, or it's just not gonna work!)

The pitch scale should probably rotate with the horizon, I need to fix that at some point.

The attitude indicator can be turned-off in preferences if you only want to see GPS data. The roll scale can also be turned off separately, to declutter the display

Altitude

Altitude in feet from the GPS.

You can set any height to be "ground height" reference (set to 0 in the screenshot), and that will show up as ground-shading on the ticker-tape. Either press the menu button while standing on the ground, or type it into the preferences window.

This is GPS-height, so it's not relative to mean sea-level (at least, not usually - it might be an approximation in some places). It's not barometric altitude, so don't use it to hold a flight-level or in any situation where you're trying to negotiate with someone using a real altimeter (e.g. ATC or collision-avoidance).

Note: the reference ground height is only what you type in. It's not a terrain database, and it's not a radar altimeter.

Track

Track in degrees true or compass-points from the GPS.

You can set a magnetic variation in the preferences window which will just be added to this track.

Note: this isn't your heading (even if your phone has a magnetic sensor capable of detecting heading), it's GPS-track

Wind

Depending on what version you have, there might be textboxes in the preferences page to enter wind information. These aren't currently used

Navigation display

For the free version go to the runway threshold and press "set r/w pos". Move parallel to the runway and press "set r/w dir" (you can do these two in either order). This will store the location of your runway in memory, and display that on the map. Until you do this the map will be blank (since there's nothing to display)

The map is then centred on that runway, north-up [grid north]. Your position is shown relative to the runway. Touch the navigation display to adjust the scale - left of screen for tight zoom, right of screen for a wider view.

For the paid versions the map will be centred on your location, north-up [grid north]. Any airports in the database will be shown as dots. Depending on your zoom level and the data available, the airport's ICAO code may be shown.

Each dot should be an approximation of the aerodrome reference point (i.e. not any particular runway), although in practise it will be whereever the OpenStreetMap volunteer surveyor has placed the airport label. This is not official data, and shouldn't be relied upon.

Note: at the moment it's not capable of displaying runways.

Regions

(All satellite imagery in this article is from Bing, just used to help you locate what area we're looking at. Screenshots from JOSM)

British Isles

This is the "demo region" that I test with, and will probably remain available as a free app. 304* airports of which 145 have ICAO codes.

map of airports in the british isles

Some data files or images might inadvertantly get labelled as Britain or UK, but this covers the whole British Isles.

* All numbers in this article are approximate, of the time of writing, subject to change without notice.

Europe

European region (as defined by geoFabrik's filter). 3238* airports of which 979 have ICAO codes.

map of airports in europe

A couple of the ICAO codes in this data are actually invalid ("fixme" notes in OpenStreetMap terms), so I'll need to remove those before distributing the app.

Canda

1496* airports of which only 55 have ICAO codes!

map of airports in Canada

North America

Including the United States and central america, but not Canada. 20156* airports of which 1172 have ICAO codes.

map of airports in the united states and central america

Feedback appreciated on the best way of packaging data for this region - would you prefer smaller downloads (like "midwest") that give faster performance? Would it be useful to include Canadian data? Should Alaska be a separate package? Do you have private databases of offshore-platforms that you'd like included?

Updating the data

Adding your local airport

If your local airport isn't on the map (or is wrong), then the first step is to sign-up for an openstreetmap account, and edit their map. Add aeroway=aerodrome to a node, add icao=EGLL (or whatever), and save changes. Then let me know, and at some point I'll download the latest data and regenerate these apps

Private databases

If you have your own source of location points (oil rigs, waypoints, airways, whatever) and you'd like a version of this program with your data, then get in contact and we can probably arrange something.