Category Archives: News from the web

News from various sources around the web.

Annual maintenance checklist for your iPad

Before the iPad’s introduction in 2010, pilots were skeptical to use off-the-shelf computers or tablets for electronic flight bags due to a lack of reliability with the Windows operating system. A pilot’s worst fear was to look down at an EFB and see the infamous “blue screen of death” on an IFR flight while setting up for an approach. The scenario gets worse as you go to restart the device and see the message “Configuring Windows update 1 of 15…” as you near the final approach fix.

Fortunately, Apple developed an ultra-reliable operating system with the iPad that has evolved into the EFB platform of choice for pilots for nearly a decade. Provided you download current charts and perform a quick preflight before each flight, it’s highly unlikely the iPad will ever let you down. The one side effect from this high level of performance is that it can cause pilots to develop a bit of complacency over time, especially if you don’t periodically inspect your device settings, preferences, app configuration and system updates.

Similar to the routine of having your airplane undergo an annual inspection, we recommend that you take the time to review the following items once a year to keep your iPad, apps and accessories performing at their best.

Restart the device

It’s possible that you may go months or years without having to restart your device, which is a testament to the iPad’s stability. Make it a habit though from time to time to completely power down your iPad, and then turn it back on to reset internal memory and give the operating system a fresh start. To do this, press and hold the power button at the top of the iPad (press the power button and volume up on iPad Pro), and you’ll see a “Slide to Power Off” slider appear. After the device completely powers down, turn it back on by pressing the power button again.

Check the battery usage report

Open the main Settings app, and choose Battery from the list of options on the left side of the screen. Here you can see which apps are demanding the most power from the battery over either a 24 hour or 10 day period. You view each app’s power draw as a percentage of total usage and see how the length of time an app is running in the background during the selected interval. If there’s an app you see here consuming a lot of power that you don’t use very often, consider tweaking that app’s location services settings, or its background app refresh permissions, which can be adjusted in Settings > General > Background App Refresh.

The battery usage report will also provide suggestions on how to improve battery life based on your individual usage habits. In the following example, the Battery screen pointed out that we didn’t have Auto-Lock enabled, which can drain the battery quickly if you forget to lock the screen manually after closing out an app.

Delete unused apps and media

It’s not hard to accumulate a lot of extraneous apps and media on your iPad over the course of a year. Go to the main Settings app, General and select iPad Storage. You’ll see a list of all apps installed, sorted by those that are taking up the most space. You’ll see info about the last time you used each app and how much space the app’s downloaded documents and data downloaded are taking up.

After reviewing this information, you might find it helpful to open one of the bloated apps and remove old downloaded content, like podcasts, movies and books. And like with the Battery screen, you’ll find suggestions to help you isolate large chunks of data for quick removal.

Check that your iOS is up to date

Apple releases major iOS software updates during the fall and numerous minor updates throughout the year to the iPad’s operating system. Make it a point to keep your iPad up to date as these new iOS updates become available, which typically include security and reliability improvements. Just make sure to check our iOS Update Green Light page after each update is released to verify it is compatible with your aviation EFB app and accessory. iOS updates are available in the Software Updates section of the Settings app.

One word of caution on iOS updates. You might be tempted to enable the “Automatic Updates” option on the Software Update screen, but we recommend you leave this setting disabled. You want to manually initiate each update after compatibility has been confirmed with each iOS update with your apps and accessories.

Check that your apps are up to date

There’s a running joke on the internet that there are two types of people:

The same goes for apps, where a large volume of app updates can pile up over time, leading you to fall way behind and give up on updating app altogether – not a good idea. Not only will app updates get you the latest feature enhancements, but you’ll also be getting the most stable version of the application as developers continue to address bugs and other inconsistencies in older versions of the app.

And as with iOS automatic updates, we recommend leaving the automatic updates option disabled for apps too, so that you can control when you update each of your aviation apps and take note of new features or changes.

Verify your ADS-B and GPS accessory firmware is up to date

Your wireless accessories also have software installed on them, called firmware, that can be updated from time to time with stability and feature improvements. Make it a point to periodically check that you have the latest firmware installed on your portable ADS-B and GPS accessories. Here’s how to do it for several of the popular receivers:

How to update Stratus Firmware

Garmin GDL 50/51/52 Firmware

Bad Elf Firmware is managed by the Bad Elf app

Dual GPS and ADS-B receiver firmware

Review and update downloaded EFB documents

Most of the major aviation EFB apps feature a document viewer with a catalog of FAA and supplemental reference documents. This is the only place to find supplemental aviation data and charts that were traditionally printed only in paper format. These are updated throughout the year and should be reviewed periodically to make sure you have the latest versions saved for offline viewing in the airplane. You’ll probably stumble across some new documents too when you revisit the document catalog.

Check/update your aircraft performance and equipment data

Today’s aviation apps make it nearly effortless to plan a flight and determine ETA and fuel burn with pinpoint precision. These calculations are based on the performance profiles created by the app developers using data from the POH, but there are often variables you can configure based on cruise power % and leaning preferences. Take a look at these from time to time to make sure they’re representative of how you’re actually flying the airplane so that you continue to get accurate performance planning numbers before takeoff.

Also, check out the equipment assigned to the aircraft profile, like ADS-B transponder type, GPS navigator performance and survival equipment onboard. This information is included with every ICAO flight plan you file, and it may not be up to date if you’ve recently performed upgrades to your aircraft.

Optimize the Control Center buttons and layouts

Your iPad habits will likely evolve over time as you download new apps and find different uses for your iPad. The Control Center, accessed from swiping down from the top right of the screen, provides quick access to frequently used settings and shortcuts. Head over to the Settings app, select Control Center, and the Customize Controls option. You may find yourself using the magnifier and notes app more frequently, for example, and find it helpful to add shortcuts to those functions to the Control Center.

Verify Find my iPad and Backups are enabled

The worst time to question whether you have the iPad tracking feature enabled is after you misplace it, so take the time once a year to verify that the “Find my iPad” option is enabled. Tap on your name at the top left of the Settings screen, select your device name at the bottom right, and you’ll see the Find my iPad setting.

While you’re viewing your device settings, also verify that iCloud Backups are enabled. This will automatically back up your photos, accounts, documents and settings when connected to power and Wi-Fi. It’s a handy insurance policy for your data should you damage or misplace your iPad.

 

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Source: Ipad appsAnnual maintenance checklist for your iPad

FAA Makes Major Drone ID Marking Change

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has posted a rule in the Federal Register requiring small drone owners to display the FAA-issued registration number on an outside surface of the aircraft. Owners and operators may no longer place or write registration numbers in an interior compartment. The rule is effective on February 25. The markings must be in place for any flight after that date.

When the FAA first required registration of small drones in 2015, the agency mandated that the registration marking be readily accessible and maintained in readable condition. The rule granted some flexibility by permitting the marking to be placed in an enclosed compartment, such as a battery case, if it could be accessed without the use of tools.

Subsequently, law enforcement officials and the FAAs interagency security partners have expressed concerns about the risk a concealed explosive device might pose to first responders upon opening a compartment to find a drones registration number. The FAA believes this action will enhance safety and security by allowing a person to view the unique identifier directly without handling the drone.

This interim final rule does not change the original acceptable methods of external marking, nor does it specify a particular external surface on which the registration number must be placed. The requirement is that it can be seen upon visual inspection of the aircrafts exterior.

The FAA has issued this requirement as an Interim Final Rulea rule that takes effect while also inviting public comment. The FAA issues interim final rules when delaying implementation of the rule would be impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. In this case, the agency has determined the importance of mitigating the risk to first responders outweighs the minimal inconvenience this change may impose on small drone owners, and justifies implementation without a prior public comment period.

The FAA will consider comments from the public on this Interim Final Rule, and will then review any submissions to determine if the provisions of the ultimate Final Rule should be changed. The 30-day comment period will end on March 15, 2019. To submit comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for RIN 2120-AL32.

As Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao promised last month, today the FAA also posted proposed new rules to let drones fly routinely at night and over people, and to further integrate them safely into the nations airspace. The comment period for these proposals begins tomorrow and will end April 15.

Source: FAAFAA Makes Major Drone ID Marking Change

Congress considers shielding FAA from shutdowns

The 35-day partial government shutdown affected thousands of federal workers across the United States, but none likely bore the brunt of its impact more than the aviation industry. Seventeen thousand FAA employees were furloughed while more than 14,000 air traffic controllers went without pay. The disruption has led lawmakers to introduce new legislation aimed at ensuring the FAA remains operational in the event of another government shutdown.

Source: aopaCongress considers shielding FAA from shutdowns

Lightspeed releases new FlightLink headset companion app

Everything is connected these days, from home automation and security systems to cars and video cameras, allowing you to monitor and control these devices remotely with a mobile app on an iPhone or iPad. Connected systems are becoming more and more common in aviation too, providing the ability to transfer flight plans, GPS, weather and more between your iPad and the avionics in the instrument panel.

This technology has also made its way into aviation headsets, and Lightspeed’s FlightLink app allows you to wirelessly record in-flight audio, take notes and customize headset settings. The latest version adds several new features and an improved interface that is optimized for all the latest iPhone and iPad models. Here’s how it works.

Getting started with FlightLink

The FlightLink app is completely free and is compatible with all Lightspeed headsets manufactured since 2012, including the Zulu 2 and 3, Sierra, Tango, and PFX. Before getting started, you’ll want to open up your headset’s battery cover, remove the batteries and turn on switch #6, which enables FlightLink compatibility.

Next, power on the headset and pair it wirelessly to your iPad or iPhone using Bluetooth.

Recording Audio and Notes

After connecting your Lightspeed headset to the app, you now have the ability to wirelessly record all activity over the intercom, including inbound and outbound transmissions, and in-cabin conversation. Simply press the large silver Record button located on the left side of the screen, and the app will begin recording audio. Once the recording starts, you’ll see a waveform display on the left side of the screen showing the last 2 minutes of audio recording. You can tap anywhere in this range and instantly play back that audio, which is perfect for those times you need to double check a clearance.

While you can only do an instant replay of the last two minutes of recorded audio, there are no limits to the total amount of audio you can record. This makes it especially useful in the flight training environment, as it allows you to create a permanent archive of all flight communications for postflight briefing and training. After stopping a recording, the Library section of the app allows you to replay it, edit the name and share the audio file. It includes all the standard sharing methods, including email and AirDrop, and also allows you to save the M4A audio file to the iOS Files app.

The FlightLink app also includes an interactive notepad, allowing you to take notes alongside the audio recording. You can use your finger, stylus, or the advanced features of the Apple Pencil 2, like the double-tap gesture to switch between writing modes.

FlightLink supports all the iOS multitasking modes too, including split-screen and slideover views, allowing you to use the app alongside your favorite EFB app.

Advanced PFX Controls

The FlightLink app brings additional functionality when paired with the Lightspeed PFX app, including a variety of personal preference features:

  • Customize audio settings for different aircraft or users
  • Fine tune audio response for maximum voice clarity and music fidelity
  • Use the Voice Clarity option to boost frequencies common in human speech without impacting the quality of music from auxiliary devices
  • View remaining battery life with the battery level indicator
  • Enable/disable audible low battery alert
  • Choose Auto Shutoff delay intervals
  • Save custom settings in up to three personal profiles

The FlightLink app is available free as a free download in the app store. Learn more about Lightspeed’s advanced headsets here.

The post Lightspeed releases new FlightLink headset companion app appeared first on iPad Pilot News.

Source: Ipad appsLightspeed releases new FlightLink headset companion app

Relaunched Aviation W&B Calculator app now available for iOS and Android

Aviation W&B app

Aviation W&B app
Aviation W&B works on iPad and iPhone.

Weight and balance is a chore for most pilots – important, but time consuming and a little tedious. That’s why for decades pilots have created their own spreadsheets to make these calculations a little faster, and why some of the first apps to hit the App Store a decade ago tried to simplify the weight and balance process.

One of the best apps early on was Aviation W&B Calculator. It featured an intuitive layout and a solid library of aircraft profiles when we reviewed it back in 2012. Unfortunately, the app was fairly out of date by 2017 and it was eventually removed from the App Store. Since then, founder Roy Kronenfeld has rebuilt the app from the ground up with a new look and more modern codebase.

The new look is clean and easy to use, with an opening screen showing the option to build your own aircraft template or to browse the app’s library of over 270 aircraft. This is a major help, and one of the reasons we like the app more than your typical spreadsheet approach. There are plenty of options for customizing a template, including units (lbs vs. gal, lbs. vs. kg) and custom stations.

Aviation WB
The app works particularly well on iPhone.

Once you’ve created a template, calculating different loading scenarios is fast and easy. Just enter the pilot, co-pilot, and passenger weights, then any fuel and baggage. The app will show the full table with weight/arm/moment calculations, plus a graphical loading chart at the top.

The other big upgrade is that Aviation W&B Calculator is now available for Android (version 4.1 and up) in addition to iOS. While ForeFlight offers an impressive weight and balance tool of its own, that does require a $99.99/year subscription and is not available on Android. For pilots flying with other apps, or for those who prefer a simple and standalone app, we can recommend Aviation W&B Calculator as a solid option.

Aviation W&B Calculator is available as a free download in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store, which allows for two months of trial use. A basic yearly subscription is $4.99 and a pro yearly subscription is $9.99.

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Source: Ipad appsRelaunched Aviation W&B Calculator app now available for iOS and Android

You’re invited: Honor aviation’s best at the Bob Hoover Trophy reception

Honor the late R. A. “Bob” Hoover and celebrate those in the aviation industry who are carrying on his legacy during the 2019 AOPA R. A. “Bob” Hoover Trophy Reception at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s historic terminal in Washington, D.C., on March 20.

Source: aopaYou’re invited: Honor aviation’s best at the Bob Hoover Trophy reception