iFlightPlanner Serves the Aviation Industry with Baron as its Trusted Weather Partner
In 2009 iFlightPlanner Co-founder and Director of Business Development Andy Matthews was working on getting his pilot’s license. On the day of a training flight with his father and an instructor, Andy’s takeoff was delayed by an FAA ramp check. The time it took to execute an updated weight and balance calculation cut into his time in the air. The experience was frustrating as Andy and his father spent more than an hour preparing for the flight the evening before, but at the airport they didn’t have an efficient way to show the work they had done. The idea for creating a better flight planning tool for pilots was born.
To help get his idea off the ground, Andy turned to his former University of Michigan roommate John Burnside, an experienced web developer. The two of them founded iFlightPlanner and launched its website in 2010, and an iOS app soon followed in 2011.
“We were first to market with an integrated solution where you plan online and with one tap can sync that information into your iPad app to have for in-flight usage,” said John, who currently serves as Director of Technology.
Today the app and website provide a single solution for use before, during, and after a flight. Users can plan flight routes with aviation charts, view weather conditions, file and close FAA flight plans, get airport and facility information, and more.
John and Andy knew weather data would be a vital aspect of the quality of the iFlightPlanner products.
“It was one of the first things we looked at. Where do we obtain weather data? Not only raw data we might use behind the scenes for calculations but also visual data,” John recalled.
In 2013 the company was preparing to roll out a new version of its app. John and Andy wanted the app to display weather imagery that matched what was available on the web platform, something the weather vendor they were working with at the time could not provide. iFlightPlanner began searching for a company that had a comprehensive catalog of products, enabled the display of the same weather images on its web and mobile platforms, and provide the flexibility to create a customized package. Baron was the vendor they found that checked all the boxes.
“We needed a pricing model that would be affordable but allow us to scale as our growth scaled. Baron was more than willing to help shape something to do that,” said John. “That was huge, having high-quality products but also the personal level of support of knowing every customer is different and working with us to put together a package that makes sense for our business instead of a one-size-fits-all pricing model.”
During the time iFlightPlanner has been a Baron customer the two have worked together to assemble product packages that best meet the needs of aviators. Products that have been integrated into iFlightPlanner software include:
- 1/2km resolution Visible Satellite
- 2km resolution Infrared Satellite
- 1km resolution North American Radar
- Surface Analysis
- Winds and Temperatures Aloft
- Significant Weather Charts and Text
The Baron weather data can be displayed as a map layer on the iFlightPlanner platforms, giving pilots a visual of the weather conditions they will encounter during a flight.
“We are matching up the time stamp so we can provide a composite radar and satellite, so people can see where the clouds are and where the precipitation is within those clouds,” John said.
“A picture is worth 1000 words. If we can paint a really clear picture for a pilot of what their flight is going to look like and what the forecasted conditions are going to be, it raises that confidence in the safe operations of the flight,” said Andy. “What we display and what Baron makes readily available is the composite (radar) image instead of just the base (radar) imagery. You lose visibility (of weather conditions) if you’re not using the composite. To be able to paint that full picture and not leave anything up to chance is always really helpful.”
iFlightPlanner seamlessly integrated the Baron data into its software using the Baron Weather API. To help its customers use API data correctly, Baron offers thorough API documentation that details every step of the implementation process. An easily searchable documentation portal for all data products is available anytime online and provides developers with:
- Code samples
- Examples of request and response formats
- API access guides
The Baron Weather API delivers data in standardized data formats such as JSON and employs common, well-known communication protocols such as WMS and TMS.
Development support is also available as needed. For iFlightPlanner using the Baron API has proven to be a simple process.
“I didn’t need a lot of help in-person to complete the integration, but that’s only because the documentation was so clear,” John said. “You don’t get that from every technology partner you work with.”
John and Andy say Baron’s high-resolution weather data helps iFlightPlanner stand out in the aviation market and grab the attention of prospective customers.
“It’s legitimately like a bug light at a trade show, people are walking by and they see a 40-inch monitor with our maps and Baron’s radar they literally stop, stare at it for a few minutes, then they’ll ask questions about it,” John said.
iFlightPlanner offers select free services on its website, premium plans to private pilots, and a customizable premium business package for corporate flight departments. The company also has a partnership with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), which uses iFlightPlanner software to offer its members a web-based flight planning tool. All told, hundreds of thousands of pilots have access to iFlightPlanner technology and its integrated Baron weather data to safely plan flights. As it continues to grow, the company knows it can rely on Baron to provide all the cutting-edge weather products it will need to meet customer demands.
“We’re really good at what we do from a technology and aviation perspective, and Baron is the best as far as we’re concerned in creating these weather products. We’re never going to get into the business of creating weather products, so having a partnership like this is fantastic,” according to Andy.