I have been flying IFR privately in Europe during the last few years (several hundreds of flights). During all those years, I had been using with great pleasure the Rocket Route services. It is easy to operate, works indifferently on Laptop, tablet and mobile phone. It’s pretty neat, with a powerful autorouter, a great interface and a very comprehensive briefing pack. From less than 200 Euros in the first year, with lots of maps and data included, the price started to climb steadily over time. Last year renewal cost me 269 Euros ex VAT but still included many maps, all the European airport plates and no filing restrictions. This was still acceptable.
Unfortunately, my Pro Europe subscription expired mid June 2017. At my great surprise I could not renew it in the same terms. They have now created 2 Tariffs for private pilots : PISTON subscriptions with filing limited to FL220 and Turbine for unrestricted Filing privileges.
This new Tariff structure is just a disguised way to massively inflate prices :
1- Piston subscriptions for filing below FL220 start at 99 Euros ex Vat up to 399 Euros ex Vat depending on the Map and autorouter supplied. The top end is up to 50% more expensive than the former pro Europe
2- The new Turbine at 599 Euros ex VAT (720 euros VAT included) for unrestricted filing is equivalent to the Piston plan at 279 Euros. A 114% Price increase !!!
Even after having exchanged mails with them, I still fail to understand the logic of their move.
In the meantime I moved on. I am now using Autorouter and its associated Bot on Telegram… At my great surprise, it’s as easy to use as Rocket Route, it’s FREE and the briefing pack is even more comprehensive with the bonus of a Gramet which depicts vertically the weather alongside the flight path.
You are not alone in finding that. There will also soon be Foreflight which along with Autoroute and Garmin Pilot will offer European filing. All at a fraction of the cost of RR.
This is probably why. Most of their customers will pay.
However we do have a problem of what backup to use for the Autorouter. Currently there isn’t one! I used to use FlightPlanPro (a free program developed by one of the directors of RR, before RR started) but the SRD database has not been updated for a long time and many routes fail to route. I use EuroFPL for FP filing (currently this is the best system for VFR too) but they don’t offer autorouting.
How quickly could one get RR to work in a hurry and what would be the lowest cost? Would it be the €99+VAT?
FPP gives access to Eurocontrol’s Route Suggest feature but that fails to work some of the time too. It’s ridiculous that Eurocontrol don’t just make this work. It’s pure politics. Years ago, according to one insider I spoke to, they used to protect Jeppesen (and other B2B partners) but who are they protecting now?
I must admit I struggle with the cheap is good free is better attitude that sometimes transpires here. For 1/4 of the price of full fuel you get an app (I’m sure someone has put significant effort in developing) that (at least for me) seamlessly synchs with my avionics (through Garmin Connext – there is a direct export to Garmin Pilot). Synchs with my iWatch – updates me on slots and always works. Customer service is great. We (as pilots) complain a lot about the lack of innovation but seem unwilling to support when superior products are created. Not slagging off Autorouter (which I also occasionally use) by any means. My “rant” is more about this attitude that seems to persist that we are somehow entitled to get everything for free – which is why I try to balance that with my view that I’m OK to pay for something that (for once) works and delivers me what I need…
Why would I need a backup for autorouter?
The one time I needed that (but that was when I still had RR) I simply called AIS in Germany from Croatia and filed by phone.
Why would I need a backup for autorouter?
Autorouter isn’t global. (PS. I love it working through Garmin Pilot whilst in Europe).
The German AIS phone service isn’t global either… actually it is way less than pan-European
EuroFPL is a reasonable backup for autorouter and it has worldwide filing which autorouter currently does not. Another one is AeroPlus.
I’m staying with RR, as it’s the only global tool that I know. I also likeit’s automated handler communication and fuel ordering app.
It costs equivalent of one hour of flight per year or about 1/6 of what we pay to Jeppesen for their charts.