The FAA has made great strides over the past decade in modernizing the aviation system as part of its NextGen plan. We have ADS-B weather and traffic, improved ATC services and eased congestion in busy airspace. Despite these advances, several aspects of the system remain stuck in the past, like NOTAMs, which continue to be the Achilles’ heal of flight planning. There are prioritization flaws with the data and it is formatted in shorthand computer code optimized for decades-old distribution technology, making it way too easy for pilots to miss key data before a flight.
As is often the case when a government service fails to meet the needs of the end-user, a private company innovates and comes up with a different approach. That is the mission of the JumpSeat Ops app which relies on crowd-sourced data shared by other pilots to help distribute key aviation information for airports worldwide.
The app’s design is fairly basic you’ll see a map showing airport locations across the U.S. when starting out:
Tap one of the airport symbols, or enter an airport ID in the search field, to view events reported by other app users relevant to that airport:
You can add a report to any airport using the large Plus button at the bottom of the screen:
A separate Feed section shows all reports in chronological order from either an all airport view, or just your favorited airports:
Because the app has only been available for a few months and the user base is small, you’ll see that there is not a lot of information available for many airports in the U.S. yet. However, the “Feed” view is quite interesting from an aviation knowledge standpoint, allowing you to see what pilots are experiencing (good and bad) at airports all over the world.
While the JumpSeat Ops app is by no means a replacement for checking NOTAMs (in fact there are no official NOTAMs published in this app) during the preflight briefing and won’t contain procedural information like changes to instrument approach minimums, it is worth a quick look before each flight to read other pilots’ feedback about their experience at your planned airports or facilities.
It’ll be interesting to follow along as crowd-sourced apps like JumpSeat Ops grow in the future and provide a new way for pilots to share and learn about important preflight information.