Sunday, May 20, 2012

iPads in Aviation

Charts and procedures for coast to coast flying.
iPad sales, in the first two years, have blown away the pace of iPod and iPhone sales. It took the iPod four years and the iPhone more than three years to reach today's cumulative sales of the iPad.

One area where the iPad has made a big difference is in aviation. While it's an insignificant market for Apple, it's a big deal for pilots. When pilots fly, they must "utilize all available information." One of the biggest hassles of flying is that a pilot needs to carry charts (maps), manuals, and books chock-full of airport details and procedures.

When I flew from California to New York, I had to carry a bin full of books and charts (pictured above) - about $200 worth. The most painful part is that nearly all of this paperwork expires every 60 days.

Flight Planning
My location on an airport approach procedure plate.
(click to enlarge) 
Today, as a private pilot with an iPad, I only need to pay a $150 yearly subscription fee to receive all of the charts and procedures for flying anywhere in the United States. Not only can I file flight plans, download new charts, procedures, and weather on the go, but I can also see my exact location on my iPad's charts, procedures, and taxiway diagrams.

I still need to pay about $300 for an annual data subscription for my plane's avionics navigation systems. But, having redundant systems for my situational awareness ensures that I should never get lost --- unless the GPS satellite network fails.

In the event of a GPS failure then we're back to navigating via radio beacons. Which, fortunately, my airplane has three separate navigation radios for this purpose. Hopefully, though, it'll never come to that.

The costs involved with paper and electronic subscriptions reminds me of an old joke...

How do you make a million dollars in aviation?
Start with two million.


Thomas said...

But isn't iPad related to mobile devices that should be switched off during the flight? How can it be used? May be some special android programming is needed for that.

Polaroid P said...

So what iPad app (or apps) do you use for navigation and weather info ?

Joe Moreno said...

ForeFlight. You can beat that app when it comes to aviation.

Anonymous said...

Great!!! it's worth to pay for charts! Hope it will soon launch for the all wearable devices.