DO NOT BUY ANY OF
FLIGHTPREP's PRODUCTS!!!! You will be supporting a company that
working towards the demise of many valuable internet resources!
and Electronic Chart Software
update 12/16/2008 below
update 3/19/2009 below
A couple years ago, I bought charts as I needed them. I also
an annual paper Jepp approach chart subscription that covered a
whopping 3 states for $125 a year or something like that. I
to swap in page revisions every 28 days (or was it 56), and it was kind
of a pain. To add some insult to the injury, if I were
to, say, Florida, I had to spend about $75 for all the low-altitude
enroute and approach charts from NACO to be able to legally have what
I'd need. Sure, being an AOPA member, I could have printed
of the approach charts and saved some money there, but you never know
EXACTLY where you'll end up with a small plane on a long trip.
Time to move into the electronic age.
So first I started simple....I bought Sporty's Approach plate CD, which
worked OK, but wasn't super tablet friendly. Now I could buy
for $10 or so and have all the approaches in the country.
but not good enough. Then I found another company putting out
CD that also included low-altitude enroute charts, but they ran kind of
slow. At least I could be legal now with a little less work.
Over time I got using Golden
Eagle Flight Prep
software to plan my flights. This is fantastic software, and
free. It's very good at loading weather, creating reports,
getting a DUATS briefing, and filing flight plans. But, it
doesn't have charts in it for in flight use. That's when I
decided at OSH 2006 that I'd buy Chart
which gave me a full set of geo-referenced sectionals, WACs, IFR
Low-Altitude Enroutes, and geo-reference approach plates. It
about $349 if I remember right, and was fantastic. The "Express"
version of the software would only do in-flight charting (and the
normal HITS and other cool functions), but it wouldn't do flight
planning or chart printing. They make Chart Case Pro taht integrates
all of the planning features with the EFB in-flight features, so that
is the product I wanted to get.
Just before the show (OSH 2007) I gulped and paid $268.95 to renew my
chart subscription for the next year, and at the show I paid $100 to
upgrade to Golden Eagle Pro. I had expected the subscription
be about $200-210 based on talking to them at OSH 2006, but my first
year's charts were included with the $349 (if I remember correctly)
purchase price. When I was shopping with a fellow RV-10 builder this
year, the charts and software are sold separately. $299 for the
software (Express....$399 for Pro), and $357 for charts...and they only
include 4 free weeks. My renwal rate of $268.95 was only good for ME
because I was continuing an existing subscription....any new customers
would have to pay the full $357, since they only included 4 weeks of
charts.....so it's a whopping $756 for a new customer to get what I got
for $349 last year. So, my friend passed it up (can't blame
and that lead me to a new choice....
Saved by Voyager
Seattle Avionics Software) was being sold at $349 for the EFB version,
which would be the direct comparison to what I had, with a free year of
charts. A renewal EFB chart subscription was $299 I believe.
Higher than my subscription, but since they included a free
of charts it's a far better deal for the new customer. I need to say
FAR better again, as it also includes more features like a fuel stop
planner that can save you some money too. I wanted to get it, but I'd
lose money on that deal though, since I just paid $100 to upgrade to
Chart Case Pro, and renewed my subscription a couple weeks prior. The
Voyager EFB version, and my Chart Case Express, both had geo-referenced
charts so if you used a bluetooth GPS (I use a $65 Holux and it works
very well), you could plot your position as you flew, even on approach
charts or sectionals. The cool thing though, is with
could choose to buy it as only an "IFR" version, where all that was
missing was the geo-referenced charts (BUT, YOU'RE ALSO MISSING ANY GPS
INTEGRATION AT ALL). Sure, now I can't see my
position plotted on the charts, but since we both have Chelton
EFIS's, I figured I could forego the plotted course, and just have
electronic charts, so I can be legal on my trips. The "IFR"
software was only $199 and included a free year of charts too, and the
re-subscription price this year for the charts was only $129, which was
much cheaper. Let me say MUCH cheaper again. So, I promptly went back
to Golden Eagle's booth and cancelled all my orders and then went back
and bought Voyager. I felt bad, because they had EXCELLENT
software at FlightPrep, but competition has proved useful here, as I
now have the CHOICE to not pay the extra for the geo-referenced stuff
and have all the features I need at a much lower price. (Update
8/4/2007: When I realized that there is NO GPS functionality
Voyager without the EFB package, I upgraded for the total of $349 to
get the EFB package. Now my chart subscription next year will
$229) One interesting things...Voyager has geo-referenced
Approach Plates and Airport Diagrams, but NOT sectionals or IFR Low-Alt
Enroutes....so you can't see your position on those Sectionals and
Low-Enroutes. (This is no longer true...you now get Geo
Referenced sectionals and low-enroutes!)
Also, Golden Eagle included WACS, (or TACS, your choice), sectionals,
approach plates, and Low-alt enroutes. But, Voyager included: WACS,
TACS, Sectionals, Approach plates, and low AND high enroutes. So the
chart subscription was not only cheaper, but more comprehensive!
So this week I installed Voyager, and I'll be
flying with that, and
hopefully I'll see a credit card refund show up before I have to start
A quick comment on
Now after playing with Voyager a bit, here are some additional
conclusions I have. Choosing between these 2 packages is
extremely tough, and here's why. Flight Prep has a free
planner that is clean and works very well. It's just not
integrated into Chart Case Express and you have to buy Chart Case Pro
to get it. Feature wise, it has the necessaries, but, it is
far short of what Voyager offers in terms of fuel planning,
synchronizing multiple PC installs, and how many charts you get.
But, it is NOT a bad piece of software. The thing
kills it as a good purchase for many is that they don't even include a
year of charts, so the entry cost is well over $700 to get a super
package....and that's way too high. To add the insult to the entry
cost, the chart subscription is WAY too high at $357/yr. And,
there is no fuel cost info in the planning, so you miss out on some
pretty neat features. he positives.... Well, it's a far
program, with much nicer map and weather graphics, with
semi-transparent weather and things like that which make it much more
viewable. In Flight is where the beauty of Chart Case
will shine, because using a GPS it can track your position on both
sectionals, IFR low-enroutes, and Approach Plates. It's
software, with huge buttons on screen for entering waypoints, and not
too many menus to get confused with. Very very sweet.
it's not nearly as feature rich on the planning software side.
Combine that with the expensive chart subscription and it's a
hard sell, but I do feel that in flight, it's the superior product.
If their chart subscription were only $229, I would be
my subscription and continuing with them, but just use some Voyager
planner features....not most charts.
Chart Case Express Screenshots
Golden Eagle FlightPrep Screenshots
Now for Voyager. It's got a phenomenal amount of planning
features, and is very smart, and includes fuel pricing. The
pricing is nice. Unfortunately my first experience with the
planning isn't great in that I know the fuel price is incorrect for one
airport (mine) right off the bat...and here they tried to convince me
that it was more accurate than AirNav.com. The nice thing is,
get to take the fuel prices WITH you in the plane. Anyway, the planner
is great. What's completely un-great is the graphics used to
depict things like weather, and the vector map used as the base
map....and even the terrain view. They all look cheap and
that "Fischer Price" look to them with blocky and bright colors. It's
some of the same complaints I've had about the older GRT EFIS screens.
Why not get smart, use less bright color, and add some
semi-transparency for weather overlays and make it look nice.
Golden Eagle Flight Prep proves it can be possible to have a
great looking software package. Next, there's quite a few
menus on Voyager. Yeah, there's a way to declutter it, but it's not
nearly the same for ease of entry with a tablet pen. The
are smaller, and there may be more times you'll find yourself entering
text info with the pen and in turbulence that can be tough. The other
negative is that while you can display sectionals and Low-Enroutes,
(and WACs and TACs), they aren't geo-referenced so you can't overlay
your position on them and track your flight. This to me is
of a major handicap. Yeah, the info is there, on that cheezy
colored vector map they have, but isn't it nice to actually use an
official Low Enroute chart in-flight when you're flying along? Why they
don't have geo-referencing and GPS positioning on those charts is
beyond me. (NOTE: They DO now
use Geo-referenced charts if you have their EFB package)
Will I be able to survive this year on Voyager? Well, I've
for the subscription now, so I'll be giving it my shot. It
to be a great planner, with great features, and it gives me all the
charts I need to be legal, so I should be happy about that.
Perhaps they'll do some product improvement to address some
the above complaints, and then I'll be totally happy. If not,
then next year I'll have a hard choice....which software package to
renew or subscribe to for a chart subscription. If the
doesn't change at all, and Chart Case drops its chart price so that
both software packages have charts for < $250, then I'd probably
switch back to Chart Case Express, but use Voyager's flight planner for
the big flights and Flight Prep for the small flights. (The reasoning
is I'd love to have more comprehensive fuel stop planning for longer
flights) And, in-flight I'd exclusively use ChartCase Express
it's superior chart tracking.
Well, it took a long time to revisit
this page, but, I've now found that Voyager was well worth the money,
and I am a permanent customer! Things have been working
well, and I got the EFB version so I could use my Holux Bluetooth GPS,
and that has worked out EXCELLENT.
In fact, I paid my chart subscription thru 2010, but just recently they
ran a promo for LIFETIME chart updates for a one-time fee, for the
first 100 customers, and I was all over that like stink on a
skunk! They had software updates to the software that makes it
much more zippy, with a cool google-earth type feel, and it does an
excellent job. I just recently
upgraded my tablet to a homemade SSD (Solid State Drive), which
you can read about HERE.
that combo, I don't have much mroe I can ask for.
Screenshots (note, this was from the old version of
software...the new is much better)
- The Garmin
696 in comparison.
Right now I'm not aware of a comparison between the Garmin 696 and
Voyager, but FlightPrep came out with a little blurb on their site that
shows how the 696 compares to their software.
I found it interesting because when the 696 came out, I did a little
studying and found that it falls FAR short of either program in terms
of features, and use for IFR flight especially. I would strongly
urge anyone considering the 696 as their idea of an EFB to "buyer
beware" and study the issues thoroughly. You'll find that the 696
lacks, today and forever will, many things that you'll really
want. There are some positives that the unit offers, but by and
large you'll get far more for your money by going with either of these
other EFB packages.
Additionally, in case you missed the news, the rules for using
electronic charts have been clarified, so refer to this:
Nice to see progress being made in the world of electronic charting.
Now if we could only bring competition and reasonable pricing
to the world of Jepp Electronic Databases!!