Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By Dave W
John Murray, working on behalf of AOPA and the GA community, has let me have early sight of an app for Android that he's been working on. Some of you may know John from his site, which is down at the moment but he tells me that it will be live again shortly.

The Android app is intended to facilitate electronic submission of a General Aviation Report, and after some iterations John has allowed me to advertise it here.

He intends that there will soon be an iPad/iPhone version, too.

It's still in beta at the moment (the beta app expires later this month), but if you'd like to take a look he's made it available from the Android Market. (Or search for "UKBA").

John's been working closely with the UK Borders Agency on this; the beta version will send test messages to the NCU email address (for UKBA), but the "live" version should (agreements permitting) send to Special Branch as well (when appropriate)in addition to UKBA.

The app is planned to be suitably intelligent such that it will determine when SB submission is required, and guide the user accordingly.

The final version is anticipated in September 2011, once the UKBA have launched their approved web portals. Given the expense in licences etc that John has faced, there is likely to be a small charge for the release version.

It is possible that there may also be some streamlining (details tbc) on the UKBA side, too.

You'll notice that there are a few fields that do not currently appear on the latest PDF version of the GAR e.g. Gender; Long Passport Number (although short number only is acceptable); Passport Issuing State; Passport expiry etc). Conversely, there are some fields that are currently on the PDF version that don't appear here - e.g. Place of Birth is no longer there, and VAT / Free circulation in the EU is now a single query.

The reason for these changes from the PDF GAR is that John's liaison with the UKBA has allowed anticipation of a forthcoming GAR update, compliant with the eBorders initiative.

Anyway, give it a go and let John know what you think - either here or directly via his contact details on the Market. I think this has great promise to simplify some of the bureaucracy faced by those Going Foreign (or even to certain other parts of the UK...).

It may be that, as well as this app, John's interaction with the UKBA could well have more general advantages for GA flyers, so his intiative should be applauded for all sorts of reasons.

Here's a taster video demo:

An updated version should eventually appear here:

Finally, and as a bonus, you'll see from the video that there is also access to weather information from the same app, tailored to the Departure and Destination details on the GAR.
Last edited by Dave W on Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Steven Day
Excellent. Well done.

How about one for fuel drawback too please, and that's pretty much everything digitised - all in the spirit of the government's e-aspirations, and more importantly making life simpler.
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By mmcp42
I just tried ukba and got two entries, both with John Murray as the author
one is gamma!
is that like beta but better?
User avatar
By Dave W
It's like beta but worse! Even though it is " higher..."[/Spinal Tap]

The Android Market is playing up, and John has found that he can't delete the "gamma" version.

If you look at that gamma version of the app, it explicitly says:

DO NOT USE this version

Last edited by Dave W on Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By mmcp42
couple of observations in the spirit of beta testing
a) the disclaimer has "correctdata" asa all one word
b) it would be really neat if it could auto-capitalise those things that need it

having said that - damned fine idea - well done, sir!
I have sent a test message - will see if I get any sort of response - should I expect one?


PS any idea on possible pricing?
User avatar
By Dave W
Thanks for the feedback, Mike. Auto-caps: I've already suggested that to John; he's working on it.

Any more comments appreciated.

I don't think that any response will be received - the NCU will see "test only" and ignore it. I understand that in the near future, if the aspiration to submit directly to UKBA servers succeeds, there is the opportunity for enhancements. A response may possibly be one of them - John will no doubt comment further in due course.

He has ideas for pricing, but that's for him to announce. Suffice to say that the figure I've seen suggested won't break anyone's bank. ;)
User avatar
By mmcp42
c) METARs - airfields need to be sorted by code or name; seems to be a bit random!
d) got an error when I tried EG, EGTC (Cranfield) "ReadSubtree() can only be invoked ..." lost the rest when it disappeared (probably because there is no METAR for Cranfield at this time of night!
e) icing does nothing (in the sense that the software ignores the click!)

the other wx info is excellent!
By roweda
Please could EHMZ - Midden Zeeland be added to the destination database?

I think the WX add on should be dropped. It is an unnecessary complication. It would be nice if the good people at UKBA could actually assist John with the licensing costs of producing this in order that it can be a free application.

After all it is these departments who want aviators to submit accurate data on time, every time.
User avatar
By flyingJ
Hi Y'all
thanks for the feedack - I've been grounded from flying recently (medical issue) and so have had time to let these apps' escape:-) I hesitate to say 'release' so all your feedback is appreciated. So far NCU is happy - the trial app sends a 'test' message with real data you've entered - which ncu filter out but one or two selected souls are sending live GAR's. Hopefully will be able to release it on schedule in September along with an iPhone version.
re Gamma - in the geek world it goes gamma beta alpha then release.
In response to one comment - when you successfully send even a test message you should receive a confirmation email to your declared sender address to say that the GAR was dispatched.
Re airfields - though that is not exactly complex programming I have struggled to get a reasonable list of ICOA coded airfields - the current version has some 500 across EU and UK and if you try to use the TAFS and Mets, it trials a list of some 2500 - slows things down on a basic android phone but the latest ones and indeeed the tablets are almost instant. Hugely time consuming to sort out these lists. Will be looking at the field ordering ASAP. all comments welcome just the same.

The great thing is that all this discussion stokes up some enthusisasm amongst the officials (initially UKBA) for the project and that helps us all move forward and garners cooperation- so please if you can leave some positive feedback on the android market or here for that matter. I know for sure they watch these sites regularly.
Will try to respond quickly to any comments and post updates but .. I'm off tomorrow with my favorite flying instructor to fly my brains out for the first time in 6 weeks
Watch the AOPA site for a new public GAR portal (web based if your not up for smartphones) - that also expected to go live early September. That will be free - the smartphone apps will be about €10 which won't quite cover all the subscription/library costs but is only the price of a couple of coffees at a major airport.

Final postscript - I've also been working on policy issues - e.g problems with how field officers handle situations (police etc), issues re regulation (e.g some pilots being told they cannot just turn up at a designated airfield (wrong) - generally UKBA (at policy level) have been great and very sympathetic but it is important that I (or any other rep from AOPA or your preferred association) is kept iformed of your experiences - just think of it as a freedom to move rather like the walkers/ramblers demand a 'right to roam' with reasonable freedom.

John Murray
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By flyingJ
quick response on the meteo -
the logic _ for me- was that I was collecting the info on airfields anyway and it wasn't too much moe to obtain meteo off the web.

I've suspended the icing source - not happy with it - will either drop it or provide a better one
the cross section still requires some work - it takes the origian nd destination and calculates a mid point of the line between the two and dispalys 200 miles each way (north south) of that point showing estimated cloud levels and tops - taken from skew t diagrams - dont expect anyone to be interested but meteorolgy and skew T's are one of my obsessions. If you've not put in an O&D on the GAR it deafult to Bournemouth to Cannes as a trial.!!
User avatar
By Dave Phillips
John, looks great. Being rather parochial, our problem in NI is the need to notify SB at 'both ends' if not using designated airports. You mention that you hope to encompass SB requirements; will the app be clever enough to recognise our unique scenario?
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By Rich T
This is a great idea - well done. +1 for the iPhone version.
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By Moli
John, great piece of software, really looking forward to it going live. Brilliant ideas to include the Skew T info, they provide very useful met data.