By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
AOPA's FlyQ Electronic Flight Bag app for iPad launches today, according to AOPA, putting flight planning tools into the hands of pilots and, according to some industry players, turning the organization from "pilot advocacy group" to "competitor." The debut of the subscription-based app packages airport directory information, weather, moving maps, approach plates, synthetic vision, smart "auto-routing" based on predicted winds aloft, and a host of other tools for pilots. The app last month prompted a letter that Sporty's and two other aviation companies sent to AOPA. In the letter, the companies warned that the app was placing AOPA in competition with its own advertisers, who offer similar products and, along with AOPA members, sponsor AOPA's existence. AOPA has a different take on things.
According to AOPA President Craig Fuller, advertising revenue has fallen for all its publications prior to the development of FlyQ, and "to somehow say we shouldn't bring revenue in by other means is not realistic." Fuller told AVweb that the organization has been involved in flight planning products "for many years." FlyQ, says Fuller, would ultimately add as another source of revenue, presumably even if the app ultimately results in lost revenue from disgruntled and potentially former advertisers like Sporty's. According to Sporty's CEO Michael Wolf, "They're getting into business and becoming our competitors rather than our partners." And that, he said, would be a "new direction" for AOPA that would cause him concern.