Pilots have lots of flexibility when it comes to integrating the iPad into the cockpit. Some prefer to use it as a basic digital chart viewer and airport directory, while power-users incorporate it in every phase of flight, from preflight planning to shut down. It can be especially helpful when flying single-pilot in challenging weather or in busy airspace, assisting you with IFR route planning, clearances, airspace alerts, traffic avoidance and surface monitoring while taxiing.
8. iPad legal briefing – what pilots need to know – Staying legal with the iPad is fairly easy, but it helps to do an annual review to ensure you’re dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. This article is an easy-to-follow review of the important FARs and Advisory Circulars.
7. DUATS is dead. Here’s why you won’t miss it – While DUATS was once a revolutionary way to plan a flight, iPad apps have replaced it. In this article, go behind the scenes with ForeFlight to see how flight plans get submitted in a post-DUATS world.
6. Top 10 apps for student pilots – Apps aren’t just for experienced pilots. As this list shows, there are a number of great options that can make flight training easier, more efficient and more valuable.
5. Charging your iPad: what you need to know – The most common reason for an iPad failure is a low battery. This article offers tips for keeping your iPad battery charged up, and for keeping a backup plan in place.
4. Which ADS-B receiver should I buy? – There are plenty of options for pilots who want to get datalink weather in the cockpit. Here’s a helpful comparison of the options.
3. What’s the best iPad for Pilots? – If your old iPad Mini 2 or iPad 4 has finally died and you’re considering an upgrade, the options may seem overwhelming. We sort through the specs to offer a few top picks.
2. 7 best weather apps for pilots – Besides digital charts, weather is probably the most important data pilots view on their iPad. This list offers some new ideas to go beyond the ForeFlight/Garmin battle.
As 2018 winds down, we’re looking back at another busy year in the world of iPad apps and accessories. There was no miracle cure for in-flight connectivity, no major Android expansion, and no new iPad Mini (you could even say iPad sales were flat). And yet, at least for pilots, tablets and electronic flight bag apps have never been more important or more popular. From antique taildraggers to the newest business jets, pilots of all experience levels and interests are planning and flying with a tablet.
Here’s a look at some of the trends we saw in 2018.
App consolidation continues
This is a continuation of a trend that took off last year: the big players among app developers continue to gain market share and even merge with rivals. The big story in 2017 was the deep partnership between Jeppesen and ForeFlight; in 2018 it was Garmin’s turn to join forces with another big player, in this case Fltplan.com join. That merger promises new services in 2019, especially for turbine airplanes and professional pilots.
The result of these tie-ups has been ever more advanced features, from pre-departure clearances on ForeFlight to engine instrument displays in Garmin Pilot. It’s also led to accelerated growth outside the US, as ForeFlight in particular made huge strides and can be considered a full-featured option in Europe now.
With the 2020 mandate to install ADS-B Out in airplanes just 12 months away, the market for panel-mount avionics was surprisingly quiet (although the $500 FAA rebate is back). Portables, on the other hand, remained red hot with multiple new product introductions and new software integrations. There were even new weather products available from the FAA’s FIS-B weather feed. Pilots apparently see a lot of value in a portable ADS-B receiver; the jury is still out on more expensive panel-mount products.
Apple updates its mobile operating system annually, but iOS 12 brought some major changes in 2018. Whereas previous updates changed a lot of the look and feel, this one focused on speed, performance, and new productivity features. It also changed some long-established operating procedures – there isn’t even a home button on the latest iPad Pro models.
Along with the new software came new hardware from Apple. There was no updated iPad Mini, a product pilots have been begging for, but the latest iPad Pro 11″ and 12.9″ models set a new bar for performance and screen quality. They are the best tablets yet for the cockpit. Also don’t overlook the new iPhone models – while hardly cheap, the larger screens are now quite usable in the cockpit, and ForeFlight’s introduction of synthetic vision on the iPhone closed a major capabilities gap. Is the iPhone XS Max the new iPad Mini?
The other essential product for pilots (besides an iPad), is a headset. While the integration between these two products has moved somewhat slowly, 2018 showed the potential for more features. Lightspeed’s popular FlightLink app gained fans, and Bose’s new ProFlight headset introduced new headset-iPad options. Look for more in this space in 2019.
Airline pilot hiring is the strongest it has been in a generation, so it’s no surprise that flight training is growing right now. Flight schools across the US reported record flying hours and plenty of interest from prospective pilots. The app world has responded, with new options for at-home and in-cockpit training. The days of sitting through a boring ground school class in a drafty hangar are long gone.
Finally, there was a wide variety of new iPad accessories introduced in the past year. While maybe not as flashy as a new app or ADS-B receiver, many of these are quite useful – maybe even essential. From staying connected in flight to keeping your iPad charged, there are some excellent options for pilots of all levels.
A provisional type certificate for Cessna’s Citation Longitude super-midsize 12-passenger jet was awarded to parent company Textron Aviation on Dec. 20 and paves the way for operators to begin flight training in preparation for “deliveries early next year,” a news release noted.
Tecnam announced that its new 11-seat, twin-engine P2012 Traveller has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency. FAA certification is expected shortly, to be followed early in 2019 by deliveries to the aircraft’s launch customer, Cape Air, the manufacturer said.
Older readers may remember the TripTik, a customized map and sightseeing flip book produced by AAA. If you were driving from Seattle to San Francisco, you could order a customized TripTik that would be your map, but it would also include restaurant and hotel tips, historical information about the towns you drove through, and more.
Starting in version 10.6, ForeFlight now offers something like a modern version of the TripTik, although with an whole bunch of additional features. They call it Content Packs, and these allow pilots to import their own maps, waypoints, documents and even procedures.
This has all kinds of potential applications, from the serious to the fun. For example, helicopter air ambulance pilots will love this feature, because it allows them to import their private instrument approach charts (to rooftop helipads, for example) and standard operating procedures. Likewise, flight schools can create their own content pack for instructors and students, with map layers for the practice area, reference documents and more.
On the fun side, we see great potential for pilots to create content packs to support interesting flights, like flying clup trips or Oshkosh mass arrivals. Backcountry pilots can collect all their airport information about remote strips in one place.
Most of these are pretty easy to create: a custom airport chart can be imported as a PDF, a non-aviation chart can be converted from PDF to a geo-referenced map with a tool like Maptiler, and custom map layers can be created in KML or GeoJSON formats. Most of these will take a little work, and perhaps some expertise, but they are inexpensive (or free) and only need to be done once.
ForeFlight offers some sample packs so you can get to know the feature. Here’s a look at some of these in action.
First, download the sample content pack from ForeFlight’s website. Then open that .zip file in ForeFlight. You’ll see the app open a new page in the More tab, called Custom Content. This is the place to manage all your charts, map layers and user waypoints. Tap on a content pack below to see all the associated files.
From there, you can tap on a PDF for specific information, or tap on a map file to open it in the Maps tab.
In the example below, you can see abandoned airfields displayed on the Maps tab. Like any airport, you can tap on the airfield for more information.
Tapping on the Associated Information button will bring up a page in the Documents tab. This could be a photo, text or any other PDF with information about the location.
If you tap the map layers menu at the top left, you’ll see some of the custom map layer options displayed at the bottom of the list (see red boxes below).
In addition to data points like the ones above, content packs can include non-aviation charts that are still geo-referenced (so they can be overlaid on the base map). For example, the below screenshot shows a boating map overlaid on the aeronautical map layer.
The possibilities are almost endless with Content Packs. You can learn more in the video below:
The FAA has proposed a new airworthiness directive (AD) requiring the inspection for metal fatigue of main wing spars on numerous Piper PA–28 and PA–32 single-engine airplanes that have reached a certain factored time-in-service level; reporting the inspection results to the FAA; and replacing wing spars that fail the inspection.
AOPA photographers showcase the general aviation community with magnificent photography that routinely takes readers to destinations near and far. Join us on a visual journey through 2018 to explore some of their finest moments.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has posted a notice in the Federal Register soliciting qualified candidates to serve on the Drone Advisory Committee(DAC). The committee provides an open venue for the FAA and stakeholders to identify and recommend consensus-based resolutions for issues related to integration of unmanned aircraft (UAS) into the National Airspace System.
The notice explains the responsibilities associated with DAC membership and the desired qualifications for participants. It also details the materials candidates must submit, noting that failure to supply the required information may disqualify an otherwise excellent candidate from the review process. Selected members will serve for at least two years. The FAA must receive nomination packages no later than 6:00 a.m. EST on January 9, 2019.
Typically, DAC members are at the level of Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer or other high-ranking positions. Members come from a cross-section of stakeholders representing UAS interests, including industry, research and academia, retail, and technology. The FAA maintains a roster of the current DAC membership. The DAC is limited to a maximum of 35 individuals.
The DAC, established as a Federal Advisory Committee, advises the FAA on the needs of new and expanding users of the National Airspace System, while identifying the strategic regulatory priorities and structure that simultaneously promote innovation, safety, efficiency and rapid UAS integration.