Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aviation Apps

With the iPad so ideally suited to aviation, we examine today’s top apps


While some of the bigger iPad app makers are offering increasingly complex apps that do everything, some developers like Enflight are concentrating on focused features. Their product ($149.99/year) is designed for flight planning without distracting bells and whistles. The result is a clean and elegant app for the iPad. What's different about Enflight is its depiction of your planned route. It uses "TAF Spirals" to visually show what the weather is forecast to do along your route. Using different colors, the "spiral" changes with the TAF forecast time. Pilots can intuitively see how the weather will change. Also unique, the colors are based on your personal minimums, which you set up in the app. With Enflight you can get a complete weather briefing, and one of the app's strengths is its high-resolution winds-aloft modeling and RAIM analysis. You can then download your flight plan to your handheld GPS device.


FltPlan for iPad makes it onto our list because it's the best free aviation app out there that has this many features. Still one of aviation's best kept secrets, this free app continues to improve with an even better user interface, faster performance and more features—like the ability to draw on charts and plates. It's a full-featured flight-planning tool that allows pilots to input VFR or IFR routes, displaying all the information needed to manage the flight. FltPlan includes complete weather briefings with radar, flight tracking, approach plates, high and low jet charts and sectional chart downloads, digital A/FD manager and nav logs. The app works in conjunction with the website, though no internet connection is needed to use the app. The website allows pilots to easily transfer flight-plan routes, NavLogs and Weather briefing to or from the iPad for offline viewing. With the iPad's GPS, pilots can watch their aircraft's progress overlaid on different charts.

Flight Guide iEFB

Airguide Publications has been publishing their Flight Guide for over 50 years, and it has become a staple in general aviation. With the launch of version 4.2 of their Flight Guide iEFB app for iPad (Pro-Plus subscription is $19.99/month, yearly discounts available), a slew of new features is introduced. Flight Guide now includes data on nearly 5,000 airports, compared to the 3,000 most providers have, and they're georeferenced. Version 4.2 adds NEXRAD overlay on planning charts and wireless integration with Garmin's new Guardian panel-mount GPS. Features include Civil Air Patrol gridded charts, Class B, C and D airspace graphics, and "panel" versions of
charts—including legends, VFR corridors, etc. iEFB is based on a rich airport database depicting non-standard patterns, overrun lengths, runway lights and much more. Real-time traffic alerts are available with the Zaon PCAS XRX receiver and a wireless GPS unit like Flight Guide's own FLY-Wi.


ForeFlight ($79.99/year for Basic; $149.99 for Pro) keeps getting better with the announcement of two major new features. The first is rich support for external documents. It allows pilots to integrate a reference library of everything from checklists to complete A/FD documents into ForeFlight, with an easy way to store, find and manage those documents. The enhancement includes a document viewer that allows quick switching between Document view and other ForeFlight functions without changing apps, and an easy way to import any kind of document. ForeFlight's second enhancement was the talk of Sun 'n Fun. "Stratus" is a collaborative effort between ForeFlight, Sporty's Pilot Shop and avionics software developer Appareo Systems. Stratus is a portable receiver that wirelessly streams NEXRAD radar, text weather, TFRs and GPS position to ForeFlight on your iPad without a monthly subscription. Pilots place the postcard-sized receiver on their glare shield, connect to their iPad via WiFi (it supports connection to multiple iPads) and they have a load of weather information directly in ForeFlight without any wires.


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