While the iPad is the most widely-used tablet among pilots, there are a growing number of Android apps that offer similar capabilities for pilots flying with these phones and tablets. We’ve looked at Garmin Pilot, FltPlan.com, WingX Pro and DroidEFB as great options for Android pilots in the past, and today we’re going to take a closer look at the Avare app for Android.
Avare is available as a free app from the Google Play store and installs in seconds, thanks to its small 2.1 MB file size. It’s compatible with just about every phone and tablet out there since it requires a minimum of Android 2.2 or newer. The first thing you’ll notice after opening the app is that no user account or annual subscription is required, since Avare is 100% free. According to the developers it is “donated to aviators and open source programmers with no push ads, no special permissions, and no hidden charges.”
Like most aviation apps, the Maps section is the place you’ll spend most of your time when flying with the app. While it’ll initially show you a nationwide view of sectionals or IFR en route charts, you’ll need to download the individual charts manually to be able to zoom in or view them later in the air without an internet connection.
This is accomplished using the Download section of the app, where you can select individual charts and databases to save for offline viewing. Here you can also download TAC, WAC, approach charts and airport diagrams, A/FD pages, terrain and topographic map databases.
Another unique feature of Avare is that it relies on plug-ins to add additional features, like GPS, ADS-B or flight simulator compatibility. The thought behind this is that it allows users who only need the core functions of Avare to avoid an increased need for updates or storage space. If you want to add ADS-B compatibility, for example, head over to the Avare AddOn Apps section of the website and download that plug-in.
While it may take a few extra steps to initially configure the app with the features you want, this provides lots of flexibility for those who like to experiment with third-party devices and plug-ins, and allows the the app to add additional capability down the road from the user community.
Flying with Avare
After you download the necessary chart databases and app add-ons, you’ll find the core capabilities to be similar to several of the other Android EFB apps on the market. During preflight you can use the Plan section of the app to enter your route, get the latest weather and NOTAMs for the route, and then send the flight plan over for display on the moving map.
When viewing the map you can specify a variety of basemaps, including sectionals, IFR en route charts, terrain, topography and more. Weather layers are also customizable, including the option to display airport weather status (VFR, MVFR or IFR), radar imagery, airmets/sigmets, PIREPs and TFRs. You can tap and hold on an airport on the map at any time to get more information about that facility, including airport info, communications frequencies, weather details, fuel prices, TFR details and more.
The rest of the app is pretty straightforward to use, relying on a bottom row of navigation buttons that are always visible, making it tough to get lost in buried pages or menus. You’ll use these bottom navigation buttons to view approach plates and airport diagrams, airport facility directory (A/FD), nearest airports, flight plan briefing/filing and a dedicated search function. While the app may seem fairly basic on the surface, it contains a nice collection of advanced features too that we haven’t seen in other Android apps:
- Options for Track-up and North-up moving map navigation
- Night mode
- Terrain awareness and obstacle overlay
- ADS-B weather and traffic (compatible with Dual XGPS 170, iLevil, FreeFlight and SkyRadar)
- CAP Search and Rescue grids
- Extended runway centerlines
- Auto-show airport diagram after landing
- Depiction of major sporting event TFRs
- Geo-referenced approach plates and diagrams
- Rubber-band flight planning
- Flight track data recording
- Dedicated nearest airport feature
- Chart annotations
- Fuel pricing/availability