Just about every panel-mount GPS receiver available today includes a dedicated Nearest function to help you quickly identify, locate and navigate to an alternate airport during an in-flight emergency or diversion. For those looking for a similar solution on the iPad, check out the NRST: Descent Rate and Airport Finder app.
When you first open the app you’ll see a list of the closest airports to your current position, sorted by distance. Next to each airport name is the distance and bearing to fly to that airport. It also displays vertical speed required, which would be very helpful to determine which airports are in range after an engine failure. You can then tap one of the airports to display an HSI that provides navigation guidance to that airport. Along with the HSI you’ll see real-time updates on the remaining distance to the airport, vertical speed required, current groundspeed, course and altitude. The app also includes the essential airport information you need during a diversion, including communication and weather frequencies, runway numbers and length.
You can also use this app during normal operations for descent planning while en route to your destination. After entering the destination in the search field, tap the “i” button to enter your desired descent rate and target altitude. The app will app will then count down the time until reaching the point you should start descending (top of descent) based on your descent profile data.
The app works well overall, but it is missing the ability to filter nearest airports based on runway length/type and whether it’s a public or private airport. We spoke with the developer though and they’ll be adding these features soon. And remember this app works on both iPad and iPhone, so you could keep your primary navigation app up on your iPad and run this app on your iPhone.
The NRST: Descent Rate and Airport Finder app is available now in the app store for $4.99.