Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

20 Great Aviation Apps

Enhance your cockpit with an iPad

The iPad scene shifts faster than coastal weather, with new products and amazing updates from old friends. Keeping on top of what's out there is substantially harder than in the old days, when fights lasting years could break out over whether a straight or circular E6B was a cockpit necessity. The big screen and large number of useful apps has led to widespread adoption in the cockpit for a little device that's neither laptop nor cell phone. The introduction of iPad 2 has only made it easier to bring some apps on your next flight. Not only is the newest iPad lighter and faster, it has pushed the prices on the first-generation iPads into reach of the pilot who has misplaced his or her E6B (regardless of shape). With new hardware pieces, like GPS units for the iPad, pilots now have a choice of several solid applications for an electronic flight bag. For around a thousand dollars, you can ditch the heavy bag of charts, and carry everything in the side pocket. We fly in interesting times.

AOPA Airports
If you're a member, this is a great way to access the AOPA database on airports. It includes all the standard AF/D information and a list of FBOs, hotels and food. The information here is also incorporated into ForeFlight and a couple of other apps. Free for members. Available for iPhone only.

Since the FAA persists in making and changing rules, it's worth keeping a current copy of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The Airman's Information Manual also gets regular updates in the explanatory material. For $9.99, you keep up on both in one app.

Flight Guide
The digital successor to the ubiquitous little brown book of airports, the iPad version has the data quality you've come to expect, with moving maps that include the TACs needed in busy airspace. The IFR subscription adds procedure plates. For non-3G iPads, the software will interface with the Fly-WI bluetooth WAAS GPS. $9.99-$19.99 per month.

For my family, when they're wondering where I am, this app shows the track of any flight in the ATC system and NextRad radar. One safety-of-flight use is to zoom in on an area with worrisome weather and see how flights that are already in the air are dealing with it. If the tracks are all fleeing the line of clag between you and home, it's just one more hint to grab that comfy hotel bed. Free. Available on iPhone only.

Like the FltPlan website, this app is a bare-bones tool for looking at airport information, but the price is certainly right, and it saves you from carrying an AF/D. It includes a not-yet-ready-for-prime-time plate reader. Free.


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