SafeSky use in Ireland, UK and France

Last month I got the chance to use SafeSky much more widely than previous with multiple flights to the UK and France. SafeSky depends totally on its connection to mobile phone services and therein lies the problem. In Ireland we have excellent coverage over the vast majority of the country to heights in excess of 6,000’, normally 4G. In the UK coverage is spotty but still of some value and in areas to heights of 6,000’ plus. In France I tried to use SafeSky on journeys between Le Touquet & Colmar, Colmar and Clermont Ferrand & Clermont Ferrand and Cherbourg. Most of these flights were at 6,000’ plus and telephone coverage was abysmal, essentially useless. We had 3 Apple devices all using Vodafone SIM cards. On a later flight in a different aircraft we flew down the east coast of France at much lower altitudes with the same result - no phone signal. This time we had a mix of SIM’s and an Android phone as well as Apple IPads and phone. To sum up SafeSky depends totally on a dependable phone signal - without it it is useless!

I have no problem in France, but I don’t have Vodafone which is truly abysmal in roaming mode in France. Switched to EE a few years back and all is good.

Thanks for that - it may be a Vodafone (or their partners) problem as I found even in town centres connectivity was poor.

I fly regularly mainly in all the north of France (from Besançon to Deauville and the belgian border). I would say that in my experience, I have sufficient internet coverage for SafeSky in +/- 75% till 85% of my flying time up to 5000Ft (and about 95% of the time up to 3.000Ft). I am using an Phone cell Androïd Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite.

In the past, I saw a little or no traffic as I only had a PilotAware style box. Unfortunately, in Europe, probably not even 5% of the aircrafts and microlights are transmitting in ADS-B.

Today, with SafeSky, I think I see about 90% of the traffics transmitting something during 85% of my flying time. And all this for free or €25 in Early Bird. I say bravo!

Have nice flights

Thank you for your reply, very interesting. Vodafone used to be regarded, in Ireland, as excellent for roaming coverage but now it appears not to be. Checking with others they have also have had problems with poor connectivity through Vodafone.

We have flown on to Besancon a number of times, nice town!

First of all, thanks a lot for testing so intensively SafeSky in the UK and France.

Indeed, SafeSky is totally dependent on a Internet connection, but there will be some updates soon, stay tuned.

That said, we tend to communicate on the fact that from 0 to 4500ft AGL, we get for France about 90% coverage. Anything above 4500ft is a bonus. In the mountains, given the configuration of antenna and the particularities of the terrain, we get even better results up to 10.000ft AMSL. Check for example for blue traffic in the French Alpes during a good VFR weekend.

So I suspect that depending on the commercial agreements between GSM operators, bandwidth can be restricted or allocated differently. But it’s hard to tell. On average, we also notice less reliable signals when doing a cross-border flight, we can have a loss of traffic for a few minutes during the border crossing. It takes a bit of time for the roaming operations to complete.

That said, network coverage is only getting better with time. And at the moment, even if we were to get only 80% coverage, I hope everyone agrees that it’s better to see 80% of the traffic than nothing :slight_smile:

Fly safe everyone,


Interesting thread. One thing I am looking at is installing a 4G/WiFi router in my aircraft with the 4G antenna on the underside, and using the WiFi as the connection for Safesky and other apps.
The major problem with terrestrial networks is that they are designed to work on the ground and the antenna radiation is very limited in the upwards direction. Placing a 4G antenna on a ground plane under the aircraft will give the best possible chance of maintaining a usable connection.

This thought has crossed my mind, too, but I wanted to check in air connectivity a little more, first. I actually use a wireless 4G router in my house and get downloads in excess of 75Mbps and uploads of 45Mbps. This is far superior to my original wired supply - I do live in the country. There are some units specifically aimed at the caravan market but my house unit runs on 12V, 1 Amp - it is a Huawei B315s-22, probably superseded by now. The external aerial is a neat square unit, Omni-Directional 4G LTE MIMO 3G External Antenna, very modest outlay of about €250.00. I now have a SIM in my IPad, rather than slaving to the phone, and find weather updates very helpful on SD.

One outstanding question is whether the external aerial will actually increase the connectivity? If there is no signal will there be much difference? Also you will have noted the problems with roaming with particular providers. In Ireland connectivity is close to perfect at heights up to FL75 usually 4G though probably at low download rates - my guess around 2-5Mbps though this is adequate. I have not seen anything to match in the UK or France but it could be due to roaming difficulties.

Good luck and please keep me updated on any developments.

Bryan Sheane
+353 87 9683802

The external antenna will definitely improve the connectivity as you will have a Line-of-sight path to the base stations (I design mobile networks for a living) rather than the somewhat random path dependant upon the position of the mobile in your aircraft, the construction of the airframe, the position of the antenna in the mobile, what direction you are flying etc. etc.etc.
I don’t think that throughput rates of more than a few Mbps are relevant to the apps we use in the air. What is more important is maintaining a low-latency connection in the marginal areas, and the best chance to do that is to have an antenna with an unobstructed view of the ground. A mobile in the cockpit probably has a better view of the GPS satellites than it does of the 4G network…
There are some nice MIMO 4G antennas available for not a lot of money (<30€) and good quality routers for less than 200€

Just for example:

Very interesting & good to know that you have ‘insider’ knowledge. My price guide of €250 is for both aerial & router which matches yours.

Many thanks to both of you for your feedback.
I am sure many other pilots will be interested by you feedbacks with your experience in flight.
What are the improvments in the air of the Internet connectivity?

Have nice flights