Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Apple is taking the covers off a new “tablet” style device today – called the iPad (link to Apple’s new product site, with video) - in a much-hyped announcement. I rely on my iPhone in so many different ways nowadays that I have a hard time thinking what work and life would be like without it. I could manage just fine, but things would change substantially.

One of the things I do a lot with my iPhone is pilot-related. I have a number of apps on the iPhone that I use to help me look at aviation weather, airport information and diagrams, radar images, current wind and weather conditions, electronic charts, and a whole lot more.

iphone-ipad But the iPhone is a small screen for a lot of the information. Much like small GPS devices in the cockpit are convenient yet too small to offer the best experience, the iPhone doesn’t provide the best format for some content.

Here are the iPhone aviation and pilot apps I use most often:

  • ForeFlight Mobile – worth every penny and more, this is an amazing app for planning flight, filing your flight plan, lot of maps (VFR/IFR/street/weather/clouds), electronic airport information, weather info to the max (including closest station winds aloft) and much much much more.
  • CoPilot – I use it mostly for the terrific weight and balance calculator and graphing portion of the app. Also for some speed/distance/fuel/etc. calculations (all of which I always verify manually). If ForeFlight had all this included, it would be terrific.
  • AeroWeather – Probably the app I run most often. One tap on the screen and I have an instant one-screen view (very well laid-out) of the weather situation at each airport I care about, arranged the way I want.
  • TWC (The Weather Channel) – Not an aviation app, but it has a good 10-day view of the weather that tends to show the most pessimistic look at what’s forecasted, which is nice for pilots. We need an aviation-specific app with a long-term view like this one has (within reasonable predication limits).

Enter the Apple iPad. Half and inch thick, 1.5 pounds and a 9.7-inch display. And it can run ALL iPhone apps out of the box, pixel for pixel with a border, or via pixel doubling in full-screen mode. A new SDK lets app developers take full advantage of the screen real estate and resolution.

And, there’s 3G service for $14.99/month for 250MB of data, or $29.99 for unlimited data - from AT&T. Free AT&T WiFi hotspot use with those accounts, too. But, the iPad 3G models are unlocked, so choose your GSM carrier. Prices for iPads start at $499 for a 16GB WiFi only model (with options of 32GB and 64GB storage), and 3G models for $629, $729 and $829. WiFi models available in 60 days, and 3G versions in 90 days.

Now, granted I am predicting the future a bit here, but hopefully ForeFlight and a few other iPhone apps on the new tablet will – assuming they all take advantage of the new display capabilities in updates – be the most perfect in-between device option for the private pilot.

Grab a copy of the latest AFD as an eBook? There’s an app for that.

I can even imagine Garmin or some other aviation GPS software/hardware maker offering a iPad app for sale, rather than selling a device with the software. The possibilities for flying – after accounting for very necessary safety and quality requirements - are great.

Anyone else think they might want an iPad for their aircraft cockpit?

Add/Read: Comments [13]
Apple | Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 11:46:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Wednesday, 27 January 2010 14:24:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
The apps targeted for the iPad will only materialize if there's enough demand out there. I can see how this device is "nice". But is it 6-7-8 hundred dollars (and another AT&T bill) nice? Definitely not for me. And not for great many people, I suspect.
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 15:30:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Mac's iPad - slimmer, lighter, and now with wings.
Karl Jackson
Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:30:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Not a real fan of Apple although I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the iPhone. Can't wait to get my hands on one of these just to play around with. Who knows, I might be surprised.
Saturday, 30 January 2010 09:31:56 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
According to Apple maximum operating altitude for the iPad is only 10,000 feet...
Boleslaw Ciesielski
Monday, 01 February 2010 08:39:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Does anyone know if the thing is WAAS enabled? ...for possible glass-cockpit use eventually...
rw speer
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 08:37:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I'll get one for my cockpit. I'm thinking in particular of using this If the GPS works well enough to show my position, great. But even if not, it should be a much easier and smoother way to flip between charts on the fly (literally). No good on the iphone, because it's too small, but if you can get reasonably hi-res charts on the iPad -- wow! Obviously, you'd still want paper charts as backup, but combining this with the other apps you mentioned would turn it into a heck of a tool for VFR flight.
Mark Johnson
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 10:36:37 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
@Mark Johnson - Check our Foreflight Mobile. I used skycharts for a while, but Foreflight now has VFR (and IFR) (and other) charts/maps built in with GPS tracking. Pretty awesome stuff for secondary/backup charting.

@rw speer - I seriously doubt it's WAAS enabled. If anything, it's cell phone tower data assisted. I could be wrong, but I doubt they'd add WAAS for cost and practical use reasons (probably not much demand).

@Boleslaw Ciesielski - Hmm, not sure if you're serious or not. :) Something tells me it would work higher than 10,000 feet even if Apple said it's out of spec. My iPhone works well above 10,000 feet (as a computer, of course - not as a phone).
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 13:28:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
The 10,000 foot limit was for tablet PC's used as EFBs (electronic flight bags). The limiting factor in the tablet PCs was the hard drive itself -- without the cushioning effect of nice thick sub 10K air molecules, drives would tend to crash. Which isn't a factor in a pressurized aircraft, unless you lose pressure.

Since the iPad is solid state -- no spinning hard drives reliant on thick air to function properly, I suspect they will have no problem at altitude, unless there is some other altitude related problem I don't know about.....
John Hafen
Thursday, 08 April 2010 21:07:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
New kneeboards for the iPad are now available. Here's an image. More pictures at

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 08:09:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I was hoping that I could get a stand alone GPS with the blue tooth and hook it up with the non 3D ipad and get the HITS program for 3D SVS, as well as standard moving map. Now how much will apple want to allow this to happen. I am waiting right now for Flight Guild to be able to sell for the ipad, its programs, and they said May 2010. So I hope everyone is on the same page with the ipad and make it the one that is, yes we can.
Tuesday, 25 May 2010 18:10:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I just bought an iPad with hope of using it in the cockpit. I feel when the aviation world learns what this is capable of they will fly off the shelves (no pun intended). The ForeFlight app looks interesting although I have not had much chance to use it yet. I'm excited at the possibilities this holds and I hope that aviation app writers take full advantage.
Marty Baum
Saturday, 30 October 2010 08:28:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have not gotten an IPad as yet. Wanting to make SURE that the aviation apps will be useful. Past purchases have been meaningless, for what I needed. But in the aviation community, for VFR flight and below 10,000 feet, make a lot of sense to me. My aircraft will be low & slow, so most of the flights will be well below 10,000 feet. I need to know more about the apps concerning the aviation scene, and uses for the novice pilot to help me along my journey into flight. Peace

Mike Festa

Michael J. Festa Sr.
Tuesday, 21 December 2010 10:32:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I'm hoping to pick up one of the AvPad kneeboards when they are ready over at
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