First impressions after flying with the new iPad Mini

Apple unveiled the first update to the iPad Mini last week in nearly four years, and there is no group more excited about this new model than pilots. We received our new model today and put it through the paces in the cockpit. Our initial reaction? You’re going to love it – here’s why.

Seamless transition

The iPad Mini is a favorite among pilots thanks to its small footprint, lightweight design and affordable price. Unlike the new Pro iPad series from Apple which uses an all-new design and no home button, the new Mini 5 is the exact same size as the iPad Mini 4. This is great news for current iPad mini owners looking to upgrade and use existing accessories. It also uses the same Lightning charging cable, so there are no new chargers or cables to carry in your flight bag.

Pilots will also appreciate that it uses the same buttons and controls as the iPad Mini 4, including the tried and true home button with TouchID, so there are no new gestures or FaceID concerns to deal with in the cockpit. The battery in the new Mini is the same as previous models, but if you’ve been hanging on to an iPad Mini 4 for a while that has been through lots of charging cycles, you’ll likely notice a nice increase in battery life with the new model.

High-performance in a small package

We regularly fly with all models of iPads in our flight operations, ranging from an iPad Air 2 to the new iPad Pro 11″ model. While the A12 processor in the new iPad Mini isn’t quite as fast on paper as the Pro models, you wouldn’t know it when using aviation apps. Sectionals and maps load just as fast on the Mini as the Pro and switching between screens and apps is instantaneous.

The new Mini also includes the anti-reflective screen coating that’s been a pilot-favorite feature on the Pro line of iPads. We did a quick test putting the new Mini side-by-side with the iPad Pro 11″, and it was equally as bright and readable in the cockpit.

The iPad Mini 5 can also take advantage of all the multitasking features, like split and slide-over views to interact with two apps simultaneously.

It also includes Apple Pencil support (the original Pencil, not the new one announced late in 2018), allowing you to more accurately jot down notes and clearances in flight.

Mounting the iPad Mini

The iPad Mini offers the most flexibility when it comes to mounting in the cockpit and works well in many locations. A favorite option among pilots is to use a suction cup to mount it on the left side window, where the Mini’s smaller size doesn’t block much of the view in the lower section of the front window.

Suction Cup Mounts

In the example illustrated above, we used the popular RAM suction cup kit, which incorporates a form-fitting cradle to hold the iPad securely in place. If you’d prefer to keep a case on your iPad Mini and still mount it this way, consider either the RAM 7″ X-grip or the RAM spring-loaded cradle.

There’s an alternative to RAM mounts that recently hit the market, called the Robust Mounting System. These are less expensive and customizable and work well with the iPad Mini (or any size tablet for that matter).

On the other end of the spectrum, MyGoFlight offers a premium iPad Mini mounting system that can be used with an articulating arm for increased flexibility in mounting when using a suction cup.

The Pivot Case system, used by Southwest Airlines, provides both a protective case and suction cup mounting system that is fully compatible with the iPad Mini.

For those that fly in warmer climates, the X-Naut cooling case also has a model that is compatible with iPad Mini. This unique case incorporates cooling fans, allowing you to run the iPad in temperature and sunlight conditions that would normally cause it to overheat.

Yoke Mounts

The iPad Mini works equally as well mounted on the yoke since its smaller size and weight won’t block the instruments or affect the feel of the flight controls. Most of the suction mounts listed above offer companion yoke mount options:

RAM Claw Yoke Mount

MyGoFlight Claw Yoke Mount

X-Naut Cooling Case with RAM Yoke Mount

Pivot Case Yoke Mount


The last option to consider is a kneeboard, which works well for aircraft without a yoke and for those want additional protection and pockets to keep accessories within reach. There are many options here, ranging from basic straps to protective kneeboards with lots of organization. Here are links to the various options, and make sure to check out our kneeboard buyer’s guide for a comprehensive review:

iPad Rotating Kneeboard (the most basic option)

Flight Gear HP iPad kneeboard

The Flight Outfitters iPad kneeboard

MyClip (no-frills strap)

MyGoFlight Sport Kneeboard

X-Naut Cooling Case Kneeboard Strap

ASA Kneeboards

iPad Mini 5 Configurations

We were glad to hear that the new iPad Mini 5 retained the same affordable price of $399 for the 64GB model, but we’d recommend paying the extra $150 and upgrading to the 256GB to ensure you have plenty of space down the road for all your apps, aviation databases, and media. Like with other iPads, you can upgrade to the model with Cellular data for an extra $130, which also adds an internal GPS.

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FAA Rule Would Streamline Commercial Space Launch and Reentry Requirements

WASHINGTON The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today posted a proposed rule that would streamline federal commercial space transportation requirements for future launch, reentry, and launch-site providers, and maintain safety during launches and reentries. The proposed rule follows the National Space Councils 2018 Space Policy Directive 2, which called on the Secretary of Transportation to review and revise the Departments commercial space launch and re-entry licensing regulations. It will expand national and international access to the economic, scientific, and educational benefits of traveling to space.

These rules will maintain safety, simplify the licensing process, enable innovation, and reduce costs to help our country remain a leader in commercial space launches, said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The proposed rule would provide a safe, performance-based regulatory approach to commercial space transportation. It would promote safety practices by creating flexibility for operators to meet safety requirements, and by enhancing collaboration among stakeholders. The rule would also improve efficiency by encouraging potential and current launch site and reentry operators to suggest and implement design and operation solutions.

Ingenuity and innovation have always fueled our nations success in space travel, said FAA Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell. This proposed rule ensures that a commercial space rocket is not tethered to a launch pad with unnecessary red tape.

The proposed rule advances proposals by the Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which is made up of commercial space and aviation leaders from government and industry. Formed by the FAA a year ago, the Committee discussed and put forward proposals and recommendations to the agency. The proposed rule announced today is a result of that effort.

The FAA is responsible for ensuring protection of the public, property, and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States during commercial launch or reentry activities, and encouraging, facilitating, and promoting U.S. commercial space transportation. To date, the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation has licensed or permitted more than 370 launches, reentries, and launch sites.

The U.S. commercial space transportation industry had its most productive year ever in fiscal year 2018, with 32 FAA-licensed launches, three reentries, and two new launch sites, bringing the total number of U.S. launch sites to 12. The FAA is forecasting as many as 40 FAA-licensed commercial space transportation activities this fiscal year.

Source: FAAFAA Rule Would Streamline Commercial Space Launch and Reentry Requirements

How to use ForeFlight’s new Passenger app

There has been a lot of exciting news for iPad pilots recently, including the announcement of a new iPad Mini, new news and TV services from Apple, a major iOS 12.2 update, and lastly a new companion app from ForeFlight called Passenger. Here we will show how to use the new app, along with several other new ForeFlight features included in the latest update.

How to get started with ForeFlight Passenger

ForeFlight Passenger is a companion app available free in the app store for iPhone and iPad and allows others on board your airplane to monitor the flight progress on an interactive moving map. Similar to what you’d find on Rockwell Collins’ high-end Airshow system for business jets, or the moving map in the back of an airliner headrest, Passenger is no-frills and designed for non-pilots to monitor flight progress and estimated time of arrival.

To get started, download the free Passenger app on a second iPad or iPhone. Next, go to the primary device running ForeFlight, select the More tab button at the bottom right of the display and select the new Passenger setting. Tap the “Enable and Start” button to begin sharing route information to other devices running the Passenger app. ForeFlight has made this part seamless – the Passenger app will automatically update the flight plan shown on the screen when the pilot updates the route on ForeFlight. Both devices need Wi-Fi turned on, but they do not need to be on the same Wi-Fi networks.

The one catch here is that GPS position data is not shared wirelessly from the primary ForeFlight app to Passenger, so the device running Passenger still needs a GPS source to display current location, groundspeed and ETA. There’s nothing to do when using an iPhone or iPad with a built-in GPS, but if you’re using a Wi-Fi only iPad, you’ll need to connect that to an external GPS accessory. This is easy if have a Stratus or Sentry ADS-B/GPS receiver on board – just make sure your passengers know they need to link up to that Wi-Fi network.

Passenger uses ForeFlight’s global map engine, allowing you to pan and zoom all around the globe. It includes general points of interest like cities and states, lakes, rivers and railroads. There’s an information window included at the top that displays flight time remaining, ETA, groundspeed, altitude and magnetic heading. As mentioned earlier, route updates will automatically be sent to Passenger when the pilot updates the route in the primary ForeFlight app.

You won’t find many buttons or controls in the app, since it’s designed to be easy to use for non-pilots. Like with ForeFlight, the compass button at the bottom toggles the map between north-up and track-up. There is a center-location button at the bottom right that will center the map on your current location, and the map will also auto-center after 30 seconds of inactivity. Lastly, the gear button includes options to select knots or MPH speed display, switch between which iPad the app is connected to (if there are multiple pilots), and a toggle to keep the display from automatically going to sleep

Passenger is an excellent bonus for ForeFlight users who regularly fly with others on board, and will them up to date on the important stats for the flight.

What else is new in ForeFlight 11.2

The Passenger app is just one of the great new features available with the latest ForeFlight update. Here’s a quick look at what else to look for in ForeFlight 11.2:

3D Anywhere – ForeFlight added a new 3D Airport view in a previous update, allowing you to view the final approach course and surrounding terrain right from the Airports section of the app. The new 3D Anywhere feature takes this concept one step further and allows you to view interactive 3D satellite imagery right from the map. This is accessed from a new 3D button at the top right of the Map dialog box when tapping on the screen. 3D Anywhere is included with ForeFlight Performance subscription plans.

Hide Airspace by Altitude

There’s a new option on the main map settings to hide high-altitude airspace on the aeronautical map, to help you declutter the view and only show airspace pertinent to your flight. Tap the Gear button on the Map view, select Airspace, and enter the desired altitude in the field for “Hide Airspace Above (FT)”. If you climb to within 1,000 feet of hidden airspace along your route, ForeFlight will automatically reveal it, helping you stay aware of airspace when it matters.

Route Line in Profile View

The Profile view on the Maps screen now includes the climb and departure segments, identifying your top of climb and top of descent points based on the performance profile for the currently selected aircraft. Profile view requires a Pro plan and above.

Filter Flights List by Aircraft

Use the search bar in the top-left of the Flights view to filter the list of planned and filed flights by aircraft tail number, in addition to filtering by departure and destination airports.

Send Block Times to Logbook

When you send a flight plan that has block times entered in the Flights section of the app to Logbook, those block times are now carried over and appear in the new Logbook entry.

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