RunwayFinder, the charting and airport information website that was embroiled in legal action with FlightPrep a year ago, is closing. In a statement, owner Dave Parsons said the decision was made partly because of the FAA's intention to charge fees for chart downloads through its online charting division AeroNav. "While I understand AeroNav's need to re-capture costs, the new chart fees along with other licensing fees will put RunwayFinder firmly into the red," Parsons wrote. He said the money issues might have been overcome but there is also a lot of work that needs to be done to update the service. "I've had many people suggest alternatives, but unfortunately there is no way to keep it going (for reasons I can't disclose)," he wrote. The non-disclosure is likely a reference to an agreement he signed with FlightPrep last March that settled a well-publicized lawsuit over alleged patent infringement by RunwayFinder.
FlightPrep holds a broadly worded patent on the technology of online flight planning and Parsons was among the first to challenge FlightPrep's claims. Parsons reached an agreement with FlightPrep before the conclusion of the legal action against RunwayFinder. A non-disclosure agreement was part of that deal. Parsons said he started RunwayFinder in 2005 when he was learning to fly because he had a hard time putting together flight planning information from online sources. "Being a software engineer, I wrote some code, collected a bunch of data and charts, and RunwayFinder was born."