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Who uses AFPEX, and departure services to UK pilots

This is an AFTN interface, available to pilots who can supply a UK address. It is operated by NATShere.

I describe it here. That article needs updating with some other services, provided via e.g. Ipad apps, though to be fair they tend to be in turn using e.g. EuroFPL anyway.

AFPEX is a general AFTN gateway (for the IT people, it is a terminal onto the AFTN, with some extras and predefined editable forms added) but its main use (for GA) is for flight plan filing. Interestingly, each pilot gets his very own personal AFTN address – something which airports just cannot get into their heads and I think they just can’t believe that a Free Text message coming from a pilot, asking for PNR, opening hours, or whatever, could possibly be real!

AFPEX was rolled out to UK pilots a few years ago, amid huge controversy because it replaced what many regarded were much easier ways of filing (telephone the Heathrow FBU office, for example). Many pilots also reported waiting for a long time to get their login details – apparently the UK CAA had to validate the applications but due to data protection regs was not allowed to share its database with NATS AFPEX got massively slagged off online as a result.

It seems that most of the UK pilot population never flies abroad, so they don’t need to file flight plans. Of the remainder, many use one of the apps that provide a flight plan filing function. A lot of people – especially I think IFR pilots – went to EuroFPL (I use them) or Rocketroute.

AFPEX is still there… I think they kill your login after 6 months of non-use, although I am pretty sure I have gone for longer than that and mine still works. I keep it as a backup, and it does always seem to work. It is a big Java app (3MB) and (in simple terms) needs a Windows machine, plus of course internet connectivity but you need that anyway nowadays, for anything to do with flying.

Anyway, some years down the road… who is still using AFPEX and what are you running it on?

Last Edited by Peter at 03 Dec 12:39
Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I keep my login by checking it still works every couple of months, but no, have not used it in anger. If flying to Europe would probably use homebriefing.at, there is a charge but I have always found this site very straightforward.

Oxford (EGTK)

I dont any more, but I maintain my logon just in case. Now I file a flight plan the night before (if I am confident the weather is OK for the flight), via SkyDemon. I do the same outbound from France or wherever. Because AFPEX requires a fairly sizeable download it isnt something you can easily log on to in someone’s flight briefing room. Not sure if it works on tablet devices. Why they cant just use some web app that works anywhere without needing to download anything – I dont know. I can imagine it’s only useful for those who a) already have it installed on their local home or FBO PC, and who submit lots of flight plans and are untrusting or have no need to use better alternatives.

I can’t see any point in using it now there are good alternatives. For IFR flight the ability to autoroute etc is far more valuable than just filing the FPL. And being able to send messages doesn’t help if it won’t work from mobile devices.

EGTK Oxford

I don’t have an AFPEX account but do see a reason to get one when my flying region gets bigger: in some less GA-friendly countries AFTN and SITA may be the only ways to obtain critical information, arrange an overflight permission, request handling, etc. – AFTN free-form text messaging seems to be the most valuable feature of AFPEX.

LKBU (near Prague), Czech Republic

I use it for all my flights (VFR), have used it in at least six European countries, either from a little old Sony VGN-P11Z notebook at the hotel or at some airports , Cherbourg for one, on their PC in the terminal. I like it because once filed and you have the return message (instantly), I know it’s in the system.

Norman
United Kingdom

That VGN-P11Z is a very nice product. Justine has this one and even 10 years later it is awesome. A little slow but fine for preflight stuff.

My secret plan is to limit the next EuroGA fly-in to pilots who can demonstrate the use a Windows device to do their preflight. Only kidding

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I had never heard of such a possibility. Would the CAA create a logon for me, as a foreigner, too? I am not so hopeful regarding my own CAA… As I create my occasional flight plans by hand anyway, this might be a good way to file them – most aerodromes have a pc with web access available for pilots, round here.

PS Peter, if you really want to introduce a challenge, to somewhat reduce the crowds that have yet attended, how’s about making that an MS-DOS device?

Last Edited by at 03 Dec 15:42
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

I use it for all my flights (VFR), have used it in at least six European countries, either from a little old Sony VGN-P11Z notebook at the hotel or at some airports , Cherbourg for one, on their PC in the terminal. I like it because once filed and you have the return message (instantly), I know it’s in the system.

Sure but you also know if you file with RR or other products.

EGTK Oxford

My secret plan is to limit the next EuroGA fly-in to pilots who can demonstrate the use a Windows device to do their preflight.

Surely anyone who voluntarily uses Windows should be excluded.

EGTK Oxford
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