Tag Archives: 40I

X-Plane updates app with new scenery and models

A home flight simulator is a great way to maintain instrument currency, learn new cockpit layouts, and just have fun when you can’t get to the airport. X-Plane has been the leader in this market for years now, and a recent update to their mobile app makes for a valuable companion to your desktop system.

X-Plane version 11 includes a new global scenery library that adds incredible realism to the app. There are over 37,000 airports, and about a third of them have advanced scenery options like 3D terminals, hangars, and detailed taxiway signage. From Oshkosh to Innsbruck, the graphics look almost like photos. The airplanes are likewise very realistic, from paint schemes to avionics to cockpit switches. Sit in the cockpit of the virtual Cirrus Jet and you will immediately feel at home.

The latest version also adds a new lighting model and an improved flight model, so the shadows look just like real life and the airplane responds more like the real thing. The overall result is the best simulation environment we’ve seen outside a desktop simulator system. There are also copious options for simulating system failures, which adds value as a training tool. Want to fail the airspeed indicator? Just tap a button.

Because X-Plane Mobile uses your mobile device’s on-board sensors for flying the airplane (tilt back to pull the yoke back), the actual muscle movements are not nearly as realistic as an actual flight training device. This will not teach you how to land in a crosswind or do a perfect steep turn. For a more authentic feel, you’ll want the desktop version of X-Plane and some good flight simulator controls (yoke, throttle, and rudder pedals at least). However, the app is good enough for keeping your instrument scan somewhat sharp or for exploring new airports. We would consider it a solid companion to a more expensive home simulator, and since the app is free it’s definitely worth trying out.

The app is available for both iOS devices and Android devices. It’s free to download and use most of the features, including sample scenery areas and two airplanes (Cessna 172 and Cirrus Jet). You can also use the flight school feature for free, which offers guided lessons and practice missions. Existing pilots can probably skip this, but there are still some helpful reminders about how the app works. For complete global scenery, a subscription is required. Additional airplanes can be purchased for $1-5 per airplane. X-Plane does require almost 900 MB of storage space, so make sure your iPad has plenty of space and you have a good WiFi connection before you start downloading.

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Recreational Drone Flying Aeronautical Test Moves Forward

WASHINGTON To advance public safety of the largest segment of drone operations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced the organizations selected to advise the agency in developing test administration requirements for the recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) aeronautical knowledge and safety test.

A law passed in 2018 requires that recreational drone flyers pass an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test and carry proof of test passage with them while operating a drone. There are more than one million FAA registered recreational drone flyers. To ensure that flight operations are conducted safely, the FAA is developing a test to increase the aeronautical knowledge of recreational drone flyers.

On September 17, the FAA issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking to work with stakeholders on the administration of a new aeronautical knowledge test for recreational drone flyers. Based on their responses to the RFI, the organizations below were selected to advise the agency in developing the test administration process.

  • Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Drone Launch Academy Southeastern University
  • Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC)
  • DJI
  • Horizon Hobby, LLC.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Coach
  • King Schools
  • Unmanned Safety Institute
  • First Person View (FPV) Freedom Coalition
  • Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • Academy of Model Aeronautics
  • Drone Racing League

The above organizations will make recommendations to the FAA on the safety test administration requirements. From these recommendations, the FAA will develop the final requirements that potential test administrators must meet. These requirements, and any associated selection criteria for test administrators will be announced on FAA.gov.

The test must be administered electronically by the FAA, community-based organizations, or others designated by the FAA. The FAAs objective is to work with third party entities to allow them to administer the knowledge training and test content on various platforms for the recreational flyer community.

Section 44809 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (PDF) requires new conditions to operate recreational drones. Many drones can be flown today with minimal training or knowledge of aviation rules or safety practices. The statute provided an opportunity to educate recreational flyers on UAS safety and to bring new flyers into the existing aviation safety culture.

Source: FAARecreational Drone Flying Aeronautical Test Moves Forward

PIVOT introduces new cases for iPad Mini and iPad Pro 11

PIVOT case exploded

The dizzying array of iPad models is mostly good for pilots—we have more choices than ever, at better prices than ever—but it’s a nightmare for third party case designers. Keeping up with those changing sizes isn’t easy, but the latest models from PIVOT are an excellent option for pilots and they fit two of the most popular iPads.

PIVOT case exploded
All PIVOT cases include multiple layers of protection.

First is the new iPad Mini X Case, which fits both the iPad Mini 4 and the new iPad Mini 5 -two of the most popular tablets we see in general aviation cockpit. If you’ve purchased an iPad Mini in the last four years, this case will fit it.

The new case, like all PIVOT cases, is a rugged product that offers excellent protection. Originally designed for airline pilots, this case isn’t too bulky for cockpit use but it can tolerate daily use. New enhancements include a stainless steel connector for the clip and a completely polycarbonate top plate (previous models include a silicone edge) that means touchscreen performance is flawless even at the edges of the screen. The back features rubber feet to stabilize the case and an ID window.

While the Mini is the perfect size in many cockpits, our top overall pick for a tablet is the new iPad Pro 11″. PIVOT has released a case for this model as well. It is surprisingly thin, so it doesn’t add much bulk but it still adds a lot of protection – you can drop it right on the corners and your iPad will survive. There’s also a handy kickstand on the back, so when it’s removed from the suction cup mount this case is ideal for everyday use. Notably, the kickstand works in both portrait and landscape modes. While it will accommodate the Apple Pencil, the new PIVOT case will not work with the new Apple smart keyboard.

PIVOT kickstand
The new iPad Pro 11″ model includes a sturdy kickstand.

Both cases include a fold-over screen cover that both protects the screen and provides a viewing stand in landscape mode. This is much more than just a piece of plastic – an inner polycarbonate section gives it tremendous strength while a soft rubber exterior prevents scratches.

Even better, these PIVOT cases are available as complete kits that include a suction cup mount. Just slide the screen cover out and slide the suction cup arm in. It will lock in place and they it’s easy to mount your iPad on a side window.

The PIVOT iPad Mini X Case is available for $149.95 and the complete iPad Mini Kit is available for $174.95. The PIVOT iPad Pro 11″ Case is also available for $149.95 and the complete iPad Pro 11″ Kit is available for $174.95.

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Video tip: How to interpret ForeFlight’s map weather layers

Do you know the difference between base and composite radar reflectivity, enhanced vs. infrared satellite imagery, or how to interpret the icing forecast layers in ForeFlight? Our latest video tip, from the Flying with ForeFlight training course, explains it all.

This clip appears in Sporty’s Flying with ForeFlight training course, which features nearly 3 hours of in-depth training on how to use aviation’s most widely used EFB app.


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FAA: Do Not Aim Laser-Light Displays at Sky

WASHINGTON The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a warning today that holiday laser-light displays aimed at houses become potentially dangerous when aimed into the sky.

The agency receives reports each year from pilots who are distracted or temporarily blinded by residential laser-light displays. This creates a serious safety risk to pilots and their passengers flying overhead.

The extremely concentrated beams of laser lights reach much farther than might be realized. People with laser-light displays that affect pilots will be asked to adjust them or turn them off. A refusal to do so could lead to a civil penalty.

The warning comes as laser strikes against aircraft continue to increase. From January 1 to November 23 this year the FAA recorded 5,486 laser incidents, up from the 4,949 incidents recorded during the same period last year.

Intentionally aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety risk and violates federal law. The FAA works with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against individuals who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft. The agency may impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Civil penalties of up to $30,800 have been imposed by the FAA against individuals for multiple laser incidents.

Source: FAAFAA: Do Not Aim Laser-Light Displays at Sky

iOS Update Green Light program: iOS and iPadOS 13.2.3

Apple recently released a minor update for iOS 13.2 for iPhone and iPad, which addresses performance issues and bugs related to the Mail and Messages apps. As with any iOS release, we recommend holding off on updating until your app or accessory developer has had time to fully test compatibility with the new version.

iOS 13.2 introduces Deep Fusion, an advanced image processing system that uses the A13 Bionic Neural Engine to capture images with dramatically better texture, detail, and reduced noise in lower light, on ‌iPhone 11‌, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Additional features include updated and additional emoji, Announce Messages for ‌AirPods‌, support for ‌AirPods Pro‌, ‌HomeKit‌ Secure Video, ‌HomeKit‌ enabled routers, and new ‌Siri‌ privacy settings. This update also contains bug fixes and improvements.

– Deep Fusion for ‌iPhone 11‌, ‌iPhone 11 Pro‌, and ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ uses the A13 Bionic Neural Engine to capture multiple images at various exposures, run a pixel-by-pixel analysis, and fuse the highest quality parts of the images together resulting in photos with dramatically better texture, details, and reduced noise, especially for mid to low light scenes
– Ability to change the video resolution directly from the Camera app for ‌iPhone 11‌, ‌iPhone 11 Pro‌, and ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌

– Over 70 new or updated emoji, including animals, food, activities, new accessibility emoji, gender-neutral emoji, and skin tones selection for couple emoji

‌AirPods‌ support
– Announce Messages with ‌Siri‌ to read your incoming messages aloud to your ‌AirPods‌
– ‌AirPods Pro‌ support

Home App
– ‌HomeKit‌ Secure Video enables you to privately capture, store, and view encrypted video from your security cameras and features people, animal, and vehicle detection
– ‌HomeKit‌ enabled routers put you in control of what your ‌HomeKit‌ accessories communicate with over the internet or in your home

– Privacy settings to control whether or not to help improve ‌Siri‌ and Dictation by allowing Apple to store audio of your ‌Siri‌ and Dictation interactions
– Option to delete your ‌Siri‌ and Dictation history from ‌Siri‌ Settings

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements. This update:
– Fixes an issue that may prevent passwords from autofilling in 3rd party apps
– Resolves an issue that may prevent the keyboard from appearing when using Search
– Addresses an issue where swipe to go home might not work on iPhone X and later
– Fixes an issue where Messages would only send a single notification when the option to repeat alerts was enabled
– Addresses an issue where Messages may display a phone number instead of a contact name
– Resolves an issue that caused Contacts to launch to the previously opened contact instead of the contact list
– Fixes an issue that may prevent Markup annotations from being saved
– Resolves an issue where saved notes could temporarily disappear
– Fixes an issue where iCloud Backup might not successfully complete after tapping Backup Now in Settings
– Improves performance when using AssistiveTouch to activate App Switcher

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Aviation app roundup: What’s new in WingX, FlyQ and FltPlan Go

Several of the popular aviation EFB apps received big updates over the past few weeks, including WingX, FlyQ and FltPlan Go. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s new and what to look for after you update.

WingX 9.1

The latest updates for WingX adds features designed with instrument pilots in mind. The first thing to check out is the ability to display instrument approach procedures on the moving map. Simply tap an airport name from the route list, and select “IAP on Map” to display the approach procedure on the map, and then “Add IAP to Route” to add the approach waypoints to your active flight plan.

Next, you’ll now be able to see ATC Minimum Vectoring Altitudes (MVA) at the bottom of the list of options after tapping an airport on the moving map. These are not published on IFR en route charts, but are a valuable resource when planning for the arrival and approach, to determine if ATC will be able to clear you to an altitude below the cloud bases and save time by flying a visual approach.

WingX 9.1 also includes an updated ADS-B Engine offering enhanced compatibility with some ADS-B Receivers, and improved overall GPS sensitivity.

FlyQ 4.0

FlyQ 4.0 represents a major release that adds a collection of post-flight analysis tools to the app.

Visual Logbook: The visual logbook is a big improvement from standard pilot logbooks. To start, it saves you time by auto-generating entries from the built-in data recorder. Or you can import logs from other systems and even manually create log entries. It shows lists of flights with visual images of your track, allows extensive filtering and time period selection, and generates text and graphics-based reports. It also includes a unique visual feature that uses a color-coded “heatmap” to show how often you’ve flown to each airport (this is especially useful when combined with the filtering and time-period selection).

Visual Flight Playback and Analysis Graphs: FlyQ automatically performs a detailed post-flight analysis that generates insightful graphs about every flight. Want more detail? FlyQ includes a comprehensive integrated playback system so you can play any flight back in either 2D or 3D (or both), control the playback speed, and instantly jump to any point in the flight. You can also export the data for analysis in other systems.

Floq Network: Floq is a private system that optionally connects you with your friends, flying club, instructor or student, corporate flight department, and more. It lets you see, on a color-coded map or in a list view, where your friends are flying, comment and ask questions about their flights, and discover more about their destinations and flights.

CFI/Student Pilot Features: The Floq Network makes it easy for CFI’s to follow their students’ flights. The new Endorsement feature makes it very easy for a CFI to grant endorsements to students from the comfort of their own home or office (due to Floq) or directly from a student’s iPad / iPhone.

FltPlan Go

The recent update to FltPlanGo was relatively minor but will be well-received by those flying with an ADS-B receiver with the app, like Stratus 3. It adds the ability to view SIGMETs and AIRMETs in flight to keep up with ever-changing weather hazard alerts.

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iPad pilot gift guide – 2019 edition

Whether you’re a pilot shopping for another aviation enthusiast or you’re a non-pilot desperately trying to figure out what to buy the (slightly weird?) aviator on your list, iPad apps and accessories are a good bet. Ten years into the tablet revolution, pilots are still snapping up this gear at a tremendous rate. Here’s our list of the top 10 things any iPad pilot would like this Christmas.

10. Screen protector – Screen protectors are one of the most useful accessories for the iPad, and the latest generation has some significant enhancements over earlier designs. We particularly like the MyGoFlight ArmorGlas, which is made of tempered glass so it goes on quickly and easily. It reduces glare (although it doesn’t completely eliminate it) and prevents scratches and broken screens. It’s an essential item for almost any pilot. Shop Now

The Flight Gear HP iPad Bag is the ultimate for in-flight organization.

9. Flight bag – The iPad has fundamentally changed what most pilots carry: a single tablet has replaced stacks of paper charts, paper manuals and so much more. That means your old flight bag is probably outdated (and most likely too big). Fortunately, a new crop of flight bags is tailored to iPad pilots, with slimmer sizes and lots of iPad-specific pockets. Two of our current favorites are the Flight Gear HP iPad Bag and the Flight Outfitters Lift Bag.

8. Mount – A mount is a must-have accessory for many pilots and they are available in several sizes and configurations. The most popular options are the Yoke Mount and Suction Cup Mount, both of which are available for the Mini and iPad/Air/Pro. For the ultimate in flexibility, check out the MyGoFlight universal mounts that allow you to quickly secure your iPad without removing your case. Shop Now

7. Kneeboard – If you don’t like a mount the other option is a kneeboard, and there are plenty to choose from, ranging from under $20 to over $170. Roughly, there are two main styles: basic leg strap and bi-fold kneeboard. Both are excellent for keeping your iPad stable on your leg; it’s mostly a matter of deciding how much more you want the kneeboard to do. For example, do you like to write on paper? Some bi-fold kneeboards include a clipboard for paper and pen. Do you fly an airplane with a center stick? A basic leg strap is probably all you have room for. Shop Now

6. Apps – Yes, you can send an app as a gift. It may not be as beautiful as a perfectly wrapped box under the tree, but apps do make excellent gifts – especially if you know of one that a friend or family member would really enjoy. For the beginning pilot, there are a number of training apps that can be both inspirational and helpful during training. For a more experienced pilot, consider an app that helps them master their favorite Electronic Flight Bag app, or send them a ForeFlight gift certificate. Any app in the App Store can be sent as a gift – here’s how to do it.

The Flight Gear battery pack can charge two iPads and a Stratus at the same time.

5. Deluxe iPad GPS – iPad GPSs have been a top accessory for a while now and are a must-have for iPad pilots. Both the Bad Elf Pro Plus and the Dual Electronics XGPS160 SkyPro allow you to connect up to 5 devices to the same GPS, ideal for two pilot cockpits or for using your phone and iPad. Both also include data loggers, and the Bad Elf even has a built-in screen for basic GPS performance data. These are outstanding GPSs, and our first choice for a reliable iPad moving map. Shop Now

4. Backup battery – This slim battery pack is our nominee for most under-appreciated iPad accessory, allowing you to carry a “get out of jail free” card with you at all times. Simply charge it up (using USB-C, Lightning, or micro-USB) and then plug in up to four devices simultaneously – it more than doubles the battery life of your iPad, and does not require a cigarette lighter or a wall plug. You’ll find dozens of uses for this, and not just in the cockpit. For the ultimate peace of mind, there’s a three piece kit that also includes a cigarette lighter charger and a dual 2.4 amp wall plug. There’s even a flashlight with a built-in battery pack, a nice two-in-one option for backup. Shop Now

3. SiriusXM Aviation Weather Receiver – These portable weather receivers connect to an iPad via Bluetooth and deliver SiriusXM weather and GPS position to ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot – anywhere in the U.S. This includes radar (base and composite reflectivity), lightning, storm tracks, METARs, TAFs, TFRs, PIREPs and more. They even allow you to listen to SiriusXM audio entertainment in the air. Shop Now

Sentry Mini weighs less than two ounces and costs just $299.

2. Smartwatch – The smartwatch continues to be one of the hottest trends, and it’s not limited to aviation use. Connect one of these to your smartphone and you can get push notifications, activity tracking, GPS directions and even some handy in-flight features. It’s not a replacement for an iPad, but it is a nice accessory for the gadget geek who has it all. The latest model from Garmin even includes a pulse oximeter to track your oxygen level and pulse. The two best options right now are the Garmin D2 Delta or the Apple Watch.

1. ADS-B Receiver – Portable ADS-B receivers are still the most popular iPad accessory among pilots. Part of the reason for their success is that they’ve grown into more than just weather receivers (although that’s still the most valuable feature). Most of these now offer traffic and backup attitude as well, so that synthetic vision display in your favorite app really comes alive. If you’re looking for a great value, consider the new Sentry Mini from ForeFlight, only $299. Shop Now

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LAANC Drone Program Expansion Continues

WASHINGTON The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced two important expansions of the Low Altitude Authorization and Capability (LAANC), which automates the application and approval process for drone operators to obtain airspace authorizations.

Four airports Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dulles International Airport, William P. Hobby Airport in Houston and Newark Liberty International Airport joined the list of approximately 400 air traffic facilities covering about 600 airports where LAANC is available.

Access to the service is provided through one of the FAA-approved UAS Service Suppliers. The seven companies listed below are the latest to enter into partnerships with the agency, bringing the total to 21.

  • Airspacelink
  • Avision
  • Botlink
  • Collins Aerospace
  • Drone Up
  • Simulyze
  • Skygrid

LAANC, a collaboration between the FAA and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry that directly supports the safe integration ofUAS into the nations airspace, expedites the time it takes for drone pilots to receive authorizations to fly under 400 feet in controlled airspace. The service is accessible to all pilots who operate under theFAAs small drone rule(Part 107).

LAANC began as a prototype in 2017. To date, there have been more than 170,000 approved authorizations through LAANC. The program was expanded in July to provide near real-time airspace authorizations to recreational flyers.

The programs continued expansion further increases the ability of drone pilots to gain safe and efficient access to controlled airspace nationwide.

For updates to LAANC capabilities, visit our website.

Source: FAALAANC Drone Program Expansion Continues

Garmin Pilot tips to use on your next flight

One of our favorite things to do on a long cross country flight is to learn the hidden features in electronic flight bag apps. On a recent flight, we spent some time exploring all corners of the Garmin Pilot app, and as usual we found it packed with features. As we’ve highlighted before, there are dozens of little tools that can make your flying safer and easier. Here are five new tips.

1. Night mode on synthetic vision. Garmin’s synthetic vision feature provides a powerful backup panel display, with pitch and roll, speed, altitude and nearby terrain. If you’re connected to a Garmin glass cockpit (as we are below), you can even see indicated airspeed and pressure altitude instead of the less accurate groundspeed and GPS altitude. While it’s a vibrant and colorful display during the day, those colors can be blinding at night. To give your eyes a break after sunset, tap the Menu button at the top right corner, then choose Night Mode. You’ll see the colors darken noticeably, but with no loss of information.

2. Glide ring and glide range buffer. This is a major safety enhancement for pilots of single engine airplanes – the app will show a ring around your airplane, adjusted for winds aloft and terrain, that estimates how far you could glide in an engine-out emergency. First, make sure you have your airplane profile set up properly in the Settings page, including a proper glide ratio.

Then, turn on the Glide Range Ring from the Map page by tapping the layers button at the bottom left corner of the screen, then choosing the Ownship / Route option. This will use the glide profile you have stored, but can be adjusted using the Glide Range Buffer slider. Below you’ll see we have a 0% buffer, so the map is showing a best-case scenario (and probably too optimistic).

By sliding that bar to the right, you can increase the buffer. While the app uses 20% as a standard, you can go all the way to 50%. Note how small the ring gets at that setting.

3. Hide distant traffic. Around busy airspace, the traffic layer in Garmin Pilot can quickly get overwhelming. While that’s initially a little scary, you’ll quickly notice that most of the targets are thousands of feet above you. But hiding those less important targets isn’t as obvious as you might think. First, tap the little traffic symbol in the left corner of the map. This will show what your altitude filter is (NORMAL in this case).

To change this setting, go to the Traffic page (from the Home menu) and tap on the Altitude Filter option at the top left corner. Here you’ll see four options, and Normal will hide most of those airliners flying far overhead.

4. View recent charts. The Charts page is the place to go for instrument approach plates, arrival procedures, and full size airport diagrams. While Garmin Pilot will automatically create binders for your departure and destination airports, sometimes you need to look at other charts. This is where the small Recent button at the top right comes in handy. Tap that to see a list of the last 20+ charts you viewed, regardless of airport.

5. Quick access to airports. Like Charts, Airport Info is one-stop shopping for information about airport frequencies, runways, FBOs, and so much more. First you have to pick the right airport. There are plenty of ways to do this, including tapping the airport code at the top left corner of the screen, which will pull up a menu that offers recent, flight plan airports, nearest, and favorites.

There’s an even quicker way, though. Tap the Menu button at the top right corner and you’ll see one-tap access to your departure, destination, and more. It’s a small feature, but a big time saver.

What’s your favorite Garmin Pilot shortcut? Add a comment below.

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