What is the difference between AIR³ and a tablet with the same look one can find on internet/Alibaba?
AIR³ is an Android phone & tablet that has been designed to be a flight instrument.
AIR³ is not an “off the shelves” product similar to the products that one can see on internet/Alibaba. We have written specifications based on all the tests we have made and our long experience. AIR³ is produced through a large tablet manufacturer based on these specifications.
We have not developped our own case. We use the same “case” as many other tablet manufacturers… so you can find different variants of this tablet from different manufacturers but the inside is different depending on the market that the manufacturer want to address. This case is actually very good and strong, so it was a non sense to develop a new one. Sometimes people ask us: what are the exact differences with such tablet one can find on internet… well, it is difficult to answer as long as we produce AIR³ based on our specifications and we do not know the exact specifications of the other tablets.
This is not because a tablet has a barometer sensor that it will work properly. We have tested many different barometer sensors. Some of them are definitely not good for our target or provide data that are not usable for our sport. Once you have selected the right barometer sensor, this is not enough, you also have to tune it the right way and make sure it works great with XCTrack. We have made a lot of tests, so did the XCTrack team with AIR³, in order to make sure that XCTrack worked very well with the specificities of AIR³ modules.
Custom firmware and additional app
AIR³ is much more than just a tablet + XCTrack. Besides all the customisations that have been done, we have developed a special firmware and a special additional app (AIR³ Manager) to manage other features.
We have also developed different bases to tilt the screen. Having the screen perpendicular to the look increases the readability. Watch the video that shows how important it is to tilt the screen to optimize the readability.
XCTrack for AIR³
The XCTrack team has been involved very early in the AIR³ project. They have tested it so that the App has been optimized to take advantage of the way the modules are working. XCTrack has been customised to match the AIR³ specificities and is a Pro version.
Is there many pilots using only their phone or tablet as the ONLY flight instrument? Probably not, here are a couple of reasons that differentiate AIR³ from such solution.
– A large majority of phones or tablets do not have a pressure sensor. Now, having a pressure sensor does not guarantee a good vario. The quality of the sensor is also imporant, as well as the way the system and the software are using the data coming from the sensor.
– AIR³ is a rugged tablet IP67. This means it is robust, shock proved, water resistant. As long you are very cautious, doing very soft landing and take off, etc, it may not be an advantage but if not, it is one for sure. The counterpart of this is that it is more heavy (strong material, rubber, protection, etc.) than usual instrument.
– AIR³ has a 7″ display, which allows to have very large widgets easily readable, very large Map on screen, etc. This is certainly an advantage, compared with a phone. Most tablets have a 8 or 10″ display. We beleive it is too large and unnecessary. 7″ is the ideal size.
– As explained on the base page, readability is key for a flight instrument. Increasing the brightness is solving only partially the readability of most devices and increase the energy consumption. A special base has been designed for the AIR³ form factor to put AIR³ right in front of your eyes for increased readability. The pilot will be much more satisfied with the readability of AIR³ compared with a phone or tablet. Check also our “readability matters” page.
– AIR³ is the only device sold with a perpetual licence of XCTrack Pro. This gives the opportunity to use certain widgets that are not available in the free version of XCTrack. The set of Pro features will increase in the future and will of course be available for AIR³ users that have a Pro version of XCTrack.
– AIR3 Manager is an additional app preinstalled on AIR³ that manages some basic features, including the way to choose XCTrack profile and theme (both applications are communicating with each other so that the user do not need to know all the different settings to change into XCTrack to change profile or theme). AIR³ Manager also offers a way to automatically download the latest openair file validated by the local group of pilots that are concerned by Airspace compliance. See this video that details the way AIR³ is managing AIRPACE.
– AIR³ is sold “Ready to fly”, preconfigured with 4 different profiles and 3 different themes. XCTrack is a very powerfull application but it is sometimes too complex for some users to take advantage of it. With AIR³, no need to learn all the different advanced features of XCTrack to take the best out of it.
– The autonomy of AIR³ 7.2 is large with 10.000 mAh…It gives the opportunity to keep your phone battery,… and keep having the chance to use your phone once landed.
– AIR³ speaker and microphone gives you the opportunity to call or receive calls, keeping your hands on the breaks. (except to hang on or to execute the preconfigured call widget). Few tablets have the opportunity to use it as a phone. Being able to receive calls and make calls can be very usefull in many situations
– AIR³ is sold through distribution. This mean that you should have the opportunity to test it before buying it if you are not yet convinced. Not sure which local distributor is selling the AIR³? Contact us. If there is no local dealers yet, take advantage of our “satisfied or refunded” commitment.
AIR³ 7.2 has a battery of 10.000 mAh. This gives AIR³ a pretty large autonomy. If you are using AIR³ with full brightness, you will get between 6H and 8H of autonomy depending on the theme you are using and other features such as Wifi, BT, etc. Decreasing slightly the brightness, AIR³ will run during 10-15H without problem. Thanks to the support, half brightness is definitly enough keeping a good readability.
Once the battery reaches 5%, the accoustic vario keeps beeping when you get a thermal and XCTrack keeps tracking. However the screen display is turned off to save battery. In this configuration, you can keep flying hours and hours before you completelly run out of battery as the main energy consumption is the screen.
Using a white theme of XCTrack will increase by 30% the power consumption
The AIR³ Manager is a small App developped to manage the basic features of AIR³ besides XCTrack. Look at the AIR³ Manager page.
Click on the “Openair2Air³” button to manually download the latest version of the Openair file provided on a shared Google Drive folder. Watch this video for details. Click on the “XCTrack” button to manually launch XCTrack.Click on the menu to access the settings or check the list of Openair files located on a shared Google Drive folder.
Set if you want XCTrack to be launched on boot of AIR³. Decide to automatically download the latest Openair file provided on a shared Google Drive on boot of AIR³. Determine if you want to download Openair files with or without danger zones according to the way Openair files are named. Check this video for details.
The new version of XCTrack contains a “Weak lift indication” feature. If you fall down in calm air by 0.9 – 1m/s but, while flying, you are only falling down by 0.2 m/s, this means you are flying in air mass going up… This is indicated by the double beep vario sound. you can disable it by turning off the “Weak lift Indication volume” in the “Preferences/Sound/Acoustic Vario” menu.
Watch this short video regarding the weak lift vario sound
Here are most of the new or improved features, compared with AIR³ 7.1:
- Vario, new pressure sensor: Te connectivity (Vs. Bosch)
- Android 8.1 (Vs. Android 5.1)
- Screen max brightness: 1000 nits (Vs. 400 nits)
- Deca core 2.4 Ghz (Vs. Quad core 1.3 Ghz)
- Ram/Rom: 4 Gb/64 Gb (Vs. 2Gb/16 Gb)
- Battery: 10.000 mAh (Vs. 7.000 mAh)
- Emergency quick button
- Easier to use physical button
No, it is not required.
However, the readability in direct sunlight is improved if you point your eyes perpendicularly on the screen. Therefore, we advise using the base or any other way to tilt the screen. With AIR³ 7.2, tilting the screen will give you the opportunity to decrease the brightness without loss of readability and therefore increase much the autonomy.
You may have an alternative solution to tilt the screen (tilted cockpit).
Yes. AIR³ is using a performing barometer sensor to determine the altitude and the altitude changes. It can detect an altitude change of less than 10 cm per second.
Yes, who can do more can do less. With the KISS configuration (Keep Interface So Simple), AIR³ is just providing the most needed features once a pilot start requiring his first vario. Through his evolution, the pilot will benefit from the other powerfull features by just using the “Easy” config file or the “Expert” configuration provided with AIR³.
Yes. AIR³ is preconfigured with a customized and improved version of XCTrack. AIR³ is also preconfigured with all the Maps and all the Terrain files of the main countries where it is shipped. You can add easily more maps and more Terrain should you need other regions. Alternatively, you can also get a 32 Gb SD-card with pre-installed maps of the world divided in 4 different regions.
Yes, AIR³ is also a flight computer that computes all the info required to optimize your flight during competition. With a version of XCTrack > 0.6, AIR³ generates an IGC file that corresponds to the FAI standards and therefore belongs to the instrument accepted for FAI category 1 competitions.
After the start, the green light tells you that you can “GO”
Before the start, you can check the speed required to reach the start line and the remaining time before the start
The automatic zoom will let you check at any time your position towards turnpoints, zooming in when you are approaching the turnpoint, zooming out when necessary.
At any time, keep an eye on the remaining distance to the goal, the glide ratio required to the goal and the glide ratio to the next turnpoint.
Once approaching the goal, keep an eye on the altitude over goal to optimize your score.
Yes. AIR³ is an Android tab/phone. Any Android app compatible with the android version of AIR³ will be compatible with AIR³
We pre-install many maps and elevation files to make AIR³ ready to fly.
It’s easy to free up memory. Just go to Phone / XCTrack / Map / RoadMap and delete the maps you do not need. You will quickly get a lot of free space ! Watch the video on maps and elevation files to quickly get acquainted with these topics.
If you travel quite often, we recommend to get an optional 32 Gb SD card with preinstalled maps. Read more…
There is no way this can be garanteed. But AIR³ provides solutions to reach that goal. Look at this video regarding AIRSPACE management
Airspaces information are usually provided to the instrument through an Openair file. The AIRSPACE is continuously evolving through updates of the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication). This means that Openair files should be regularly updated based on these updates.
In an Openair file, there are prohibited zones 7 days a week, H24, but there are also a certain number of temporary prohibited zones that are announced by Notam (notification to air man). Unfortunatelly, a Notam regarding the same zone can be written differently depending on the person that is producing it. This means that a robot that has the objective to decode notam may not be always 100% correct.
There are different ways to let XCTrack use an Openair file: XCtrack/Airspaces/Web or Custom/Air³ Manager.
Openair files should ideally be produced based on a daily analysis of the Notam in order to humanly determine which airspaces are activated or not.
A group of pilots focusing on a given region should organise themselves to validate Openair files corresponding to their region and publish them on a Google Drive folder. Sharing that folder with the pilots that are interested, AIR³ manager can automatically download the latest Openair file published.
Air³ Manager will copy the airspace files in OpenAir format to ‘’XCTrack/Airspaces’’ directory as “Most_recent_OA.txt” and make a second copy in the directory. By choosing that individual airspace file”Most_recent_OA.txt” once for all, Air³ will automatically use the latest Openair file published on that shared folder without any difficuty.
XCTrack can use airspaces from http://airspace.xcontest.org automatically.
Choose countries in Preferences -> Airspaces -> Web Tap ‘’Refresh’’
Airspace activations are automatically checked upon XCTrack restart
Airspaces are computed automatically through a robot.
There are 2 types of airspaces in XCTrack that are relevant:
Restricted – red. You are supposed to evade the airspace, is shown in red and it appears in the proximity widget.
Warning – orange. This airspace appears only on the map and does not appear in the proximity widget. In custom OpenAir files this corresponds to the class Q airspace.
A large number of pilots think the only way to have a good readability is to increase the nits (~ brightness). Oudie 3+ has been built with increased nits (900 nits). This video is showing that the most important factor is the angle of the screen with the look (perpendicular) and not the nits/brightness).
In the “Readability matters” page, you can also see a comparison between AIR³ 7.1 and AIR³ 7.2 (1000 nits). Tilting the screen is the most efficient way to increase readability.
The ABS Base is made of ABS. ABS is a quite strong material. However, in case of accident, it is quite easy to fix it up. ABS reacts with the Acetone. Just put some Acetone with a paintbrush on the broken parts and the two parts will quickly fix to each other once the Acetone will be evaporated. The ABS Base weight is 160 gr.
The objective of the ABS Base is to have the screen right in front of your eyes. Depending on your fligth position, you may need the screen more tilted (43°) or less tilted (33°). If your position is quite horizontal or if you are quite far away from the cockpit, 43° is probably best for you. If you have a more uprigth position or pretty close to the cockpit, 33° is more recommanded.
Alternatively, you can use the Metal Base that allows you to tilt the screen at any angle (but it is more heavy)