Planefinder interviews an Air Traffic Controller

As well as aviation enthusiasts, spotters and many more people using our flight radar app we wanted to find out how professionals use it too. So we’ve interviewed an air traffic controller to see what uses he puts Planefinder to.


Name: Andrew Morrison

Place of Work: Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) at Bournemouth International Airport


Andrew really likes Planefinder as an app purely because he finds it easy to use and he enjoys interacting with the interface. He has the app on both the iPad and his iPhone and recently downloaded the Planefinder AR version too.


“It’s very easy to use and I like the interface. The interactivity with the aircraft is great and I find the filters really useful. I can search by airline, call sign or aircraft type.”


Asking him how he uses the app outside of work, like many others, Andrew uses Planefinder just to find out what aircraft are flying overhead, where they’re going and what the aircraft is. Living in the vicinity of several airfields he’s familiar with local flight patterns and often uses the app to find out what flight patterns aircraft are taking.


“If it’s not what I consider to be a standard flight pattern, I’ll have a look on Planefinder and see where it’s being routed.”


We were very interested to find out how Andrew uses the app at work.


“If we’re slightly shorthanded and need to manage the availability of radar for approach Planefinder comes in handy. We might have an outstanding flight and I don’t have an estimate for it because it hasn’t crossed the UK border and it’s not within 10 minutes of us.”


Andrew will find the aircraft using the built in filters and see where over Europe the aircraft currently is. From that Andrew works out an estimate of how long the aircraft is going to take to get from where it is to Bournemouth’s air traffic zone airspace.


“Doing so helps us organise our breaks and the availability of radar to make sure we’re legal. Most of the aircraft that come into Bournemouth have Mode S on board which means most aircraft show up.”


As more and more aircraft become Mode S compliant Andrew thinks Planefinder will become more and more useful to him and his role. Although he doesn’t rely on Planefinder, it provides a great compliment to help him manage his tasks in traffic control and see a wider field of view of the aircraft they are expecting.


Because Andrew uses Planefinder as a flight radarhe has some great ideas on things he would like to see added to its functionality.

“It would be useful to have airspace showing or available as an overlay. This would be especially useful when you look at an aircraft and you think ‘is it inside or outside of controlled airspace?’”


As well as monitoring aircraft within controlled airspace Andrew knows many aircraft on training go into uncontrolled airspace for air testing. With this information, Andrew thinks he could work out the intentions of certain flights more robustly.


“Other than that I really like it; it’s uncluttered, un-fussy and easy to use.”


Andrew uses the app more when he’s at home for spotting aircraft and to cure his sense of curiosity. He’ll more occasionally use it at work. This is one of the reasons Andrew really likes the idea of Planefinder AR. He finds the idea of pointing his iPhone or iPad at an aircraft flying overhead to identify it really interesting.


Andrew’s son is a Captain for EasyJet and Andrew enjoys keeping track of his flight using the app. This is especially useful when he has to pick him up from Gatwick Airport.


“If I see him coming over the French border I know it’s time to get up to Gatwick to meet him.”


We asked Andrew to close the interview with a roundup of what he thinks of Planefinder:


“Overall it’s a beautiful little package that I use quite a lot.”


Andrew is also looking forward to getting hold of the AR version of Shipfinder to use on his iPhone.

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