NRST: find the nearest airport with this handy app

2 min read

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.

2014-05-16 17.27.13

10 replies
  1. John Bry
    John Bry says:

    Your absolutely glowing review of NRST sent me right to the App Store to buy it for my iPad.

    However the CTAF frequency of my home airport is listed incorrectly in that app, and several frequencies at the nearby Grand Rapids international airport also are wrong.

    And those are just the first two airports that I happened to view in NRST. I’ve written the developer.

    Now, of course, I do not trust any of the data in that app.


    • Chris Hobbs
      Chris Hobbs says:

      Thanks for the feedback. We currently use ourairports as the data provider. They are quick to correct data however we are also investigating other data sources that could be more accurate. An update with your change requests for KGRR and more should be available in the next few days.

  2. E J Todd
    E J Todd says:

    I purchased the apptoday and there is at least one bug I have noted. The compas i degrees only show intermittently nor does the arrow display. Please advise

  3. E J Todd
    E J Todd says:

    I purchased the apptoday and there is at least one bug I have noted. The compas i degrees only show intermittently nor does the arrow display. Please advise

    • Chris Hobbs
      Chris Hobbs says:

      The “compass” is actually displaying ground track course information as opposed to anything magnetic. When you are not moving there is no course so no direction or bearing arrows are displayed. Making this more intuitive would be good improvement, thanks for the comment.

  4. Len Schiindler
    Len Schiindler says:

    Like John Bry, I saw your review and immediately bought the app. I live near KBDR and so to try it out, was sitting in my den, approx 8 miles away and it listed KBDR as the nearest airport. That’s good. It also listed a runway 17-35, which hasn’t been a runway since I am a pilot, and probably since the airport was an Army Sir Corps base. That’s not so good-just might need an update

    • Chris Hobbs
      Chris Hobbs says:

      Thanks for pointing this out. 17-35 is indeed a closed runway. We will need to either not display this in the app or make it clear that it is closed. This will be fixed in the next release.

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