Monday, February 7, 2022

Please help me beta test the new version of the Android app

The MyFlightbook Android app is written in the programming language Java, which was the only option 10 years ago when I first wrote it.  But over the past few years, Google has been officially pushing people to use the newer Kotlin language instead.

If none of that makes sense to you, I can just summarize it this way: I need to future-proof the app, and that means translating it into a new programming language.

Fortunately, Google has provided some excellent conversion tools that do a remarkably good job at converting from one language to another.  I spent a bunch of time over the past weekend using these tools to convert the code, and testing/tweaking to make sure that it all works.

I think it's working (indeed, I found and fixed a couple of minor bugs that exist in the current Java-based version), but here's where I need your help: before I unleash this new version to replace the old, can you help me find any remaining issues?

If you're willing, please join the Beta program for the app and send me any feedback, bug reports, etc.  Instructions for how to do so can be found here under the heading "Get beta versions of apps".   It takes a few minutes to add your account to the beta, but when it happens...well, try it out!  

You shouldn't really notice any difference (I don't want to be adding features during a transition like this), but you can tell that you're running the Kotlin version by going to the Profile tab and scrolling down to the very bottom; it should say "(Kotlin)" next to the copyright information.

This uses your same data, same credentials, and everything, so you can use it in place of the production version.  And if you run into any issue that makes it not work for you then you can go back to the production version by leaving the beta program (but hopefully after sending me the steps that led to the problem!!)

Thank-you in advance!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

TAA Time in a helicopter

I got an email today from someone who flies both airplanes and helicopters asking why the "TAA" time in their totals only included their airplane time - it didn't include any of their time in technically advanced helicopters.

That's because technically (pun not intended) there is no such thing as a helicopter that is a TAA.  The 2nd "A" in "TAA" is "Airplane" - indeed, 61.1 defines TAA very explicitly as "an airplane equipped with an electronically advanced avionics system".  (61.129(j) defines it further, requiring a PFD, an MFD with a continuously visible moving map, and a two-axis autopilot).  The FAA uses "aircraft" where they mean an arbitrary flying machine, the use of "airplane" is not accidental.

Since TAA time is important for commercial airplane ratings, and because it technically only applies to airplanes, I report the TAA time in totals limited to airplanes.

So why do I allow non-airplanes to be tagged as "TAA"?  Simple: there are obviously non-airplane aircraft that meet the 61.129(j) definition but for the "airplane" part and people often want to track that.

If you want to see your time in, say, technically-advanced helicopters, you can search for flights where the flight aircraft was “TAA” and then look at the resulting helicopter totals (or better, search for flights in helicopters flagged as TAA), in which case the resulting overall totals will “TAA” (in quotes, because it’s not technically TAA) time.  

In this case, you'll see a criteria label of “Technically Advanced Aircraft” (rather than "Airplane") because it is not explicitly limited to airplanes. 

Note that if you do the search above and don't also restrict to helicopters, you may see your airplane TAA totals in your resulting totals because the search is finding all TAA (Aircraft) flights, which includes both your airplane and helicopter time, but the TAA total you see will still represent *airplane* time.  

E.g., if you were to search for TAA as above, with no other criteria, and your resulting totals had, say, 30 hours total of which 25 were in helicopters and 5 were in, say, a C172 that meets the TAA criteria, then you’d see a bottom-line total time of 30, 25 hours of helicopter time, 5 hours of ASEL time, and 5 hours of TAA time.  You could then simply look at the total helicopter time (25 hours here) and say "I have 25 hours of time in a technically advanced helicopter."

But if you search for TAA AND helicopter, then you’d get a result with only 25 hours, 25 of which were in helicopters, and you will *not* see a separate line for TAA in your totals because none of the resulting time came from airplanes.