Don’t look now, but United has been quietly making moves to earn some AvGeek cred. Earlier this year we wrote about the solid flight simulator game on their app. And this month they launched another aviation-related game. “Cleared to Land” is an air traffic control sim where you draw paths for aircraft inbound to an airport, until the airspace gets so crowded that you mess up, planes crash, and the game ends.

A snapshot of the gameplay

You’ll likely notice the resemblance to the original game of this type, Flight Control, which was all the rage in 2010. (And yes, realizing that game is over a decade old made us feel old too.) Flight Control’s developer FireMint was bought up by EA and the game faded away. But there have been a few similar games launched like Planes Control, whose developer RarePixels co-developed Cleared to Land with United’s in-house entertainment team.

Cleared to Land has one main difference from its predecessors: instead of nameless aircraft icons, you’re directing the current and rising stars of United’s fleet. And it’s interesting to see which planes they picked. The only representative of the current fleet is the Boeing 787-9. It makes sense to include the Dreamliner as the most technologically advanced member of the current fleet, though is a bit of a snub for the 777-300ER. The inclusion of the Airbus A321XLR is a nod to how important that long-haul narrowbody will be in replacing the airline’s aging 757s in the years ahead. The rest of the in-game fleet is comprised of the exciting up-and-comers United has invested in: Archer’s electric VTOL project, Heart Aerospace’s electric regional aircraft, and the Boom Overture supersonic aircraft (though American recently stole some of the Boom thunder).

The fleet under your control

To try Cleared to Land yourself: (1) make sure you have the United app installed, (2) make sure the app has been updated some time in the last few weeks, (3) hit the “more” button at the bottom of the home screen, and (4) go to Game Center.

A video demo of the game – Video: United and RarePixels

Cleared to Land is a little less ambitious than United’s flight simulator game, but definitely more approachable, and arguably more addictive. We’ll be glad to kill plenty of inflight time playing it.

We wonder if United’s salvo of flying-related games is a loose tie-in related to its Aviate pilot training program. In fact, there’s a banner for the Aviate Academy at the bottom of the app’s game center. There’s a huge need for new pilots right now, and the academy gives United a streamlined way to bring new trainees directly into the fold.

Give Cleared to Land a try and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - NEW YORK, NY. Manu is an avid air traveler, private pilot, and a dedicated AvGeek. He enjoys writing about aviation from a millennial's perspective, and co-manages AirlineReporter's social media and video projects. His day job is as a doctor in NYC.
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