iPad good for pilots?

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 19, 2002
15,630
3
キャンプスワ&#
Interesting article.

Why I want an Apple iPad


There's been a lot of hubbub about the Apple iPad. For a lot of folks, it's hard to see what the fuss is about. The iPad is, Apple says, a revolutionary new device. If that's true, it's apparently a revolutionary new device that does things that a number of other devices have been doing for years.

But that misses the point. If we've learned anything from Apple over the years, it's not necessarily what something does but how it does it.

My iPod Nano music player is a case in point. It's a nice little music player that's stylish and easy to use. When we bought our son a Christmas present, however, we bought him a Sansa Fuze, a player that does everything the Nano does plus has a built in FM radio and voice recorder, plays a lot more file types than the Nano and is a lot cheaper to begin with. The Nano, for the record, is a huge sales success. The Fuze does just okay. That's because people want the Apple product more, not so much for what it does, but for how it looks and how easy it is to use.

And in all fairness, the way that Apple integrates features is pretty cool. The iPhone is a case in point as is, to a lesser extent, the iPod Touch, a very cool, underrated device that shares much in common with the iPad.

Indeed, its style and its usability will be the iPad's main selling points. Based on the video--Steve Jobs must have forgotten to send me a demo unit--it looks as though the iPad is a paragon of silky smooth software/hardware integration. Unlike a computer, which it essentially is, you don't have to wait for it to get started. Turn it on and you're doing something. It's got wifi and Bluetooth and will be able to make use of 3G on some models, too, so you can be online even when you're not near a wireless internet connection. That's a huge plus for aviation use. For the record, though, my netbook will do all those things, too, with the addition of a plug in 3G card.

But the iPad will make it all easy and seamless. That ease of use and overall optimizing of the product's functions, I'm certain, are going to be enough to guarantee its huge sales success despite the fact that it doesn't do anything new and it won't be able to do a lot of things that existing devices can already do. It won't have a camera, at least not on the first go around, it won't have expandable memory, and it won't have a user replaceable battery (though its 10-hour-life lithium cell sounds great). Lots of folks will bitch about all these omissions, but when push comes to shove, most of them will still pony up the dough to get one.

For non-aviation use, I'll probably stick to my netbook--the virtual keypad on the iPad looks awful. But for flying, the iPad sounds like a dream chart reader. It's going to be quick to turn on, it's going to have a brilliant display, and it's going to be supremely easy to use. Charts, especially IFR approach charts, are a natural.

And don't discount the unit's potential as a moving map unit too. It's already got built in GPS and accelerometers, though details on them are still lacking. Something tells me it won't be long before somebody's making moving map/flight planning apps for it. In fact, I'd be shocked if it weren't already happening.
The iPad will be great for vertical market apps like this.
 

Surely

Guest
Oct 27, 2007
15,043
8
Los Angeles, CA
When we bought our son a Christmas present, however, we bought him a Sansa Fuze, a player that does everything the Nano does plus has a built in FM radio and voice recorder, plays a lot more file types than the Nano and is a lot cheaper to begin with.
Someone should tell that guy that the iPod nano does have a built in FM radio.


Maybe he could have dedicated more of the article to aviation-related uses.....


Oh, and what do you think about iPad for aviation purposes, dmr727?
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 19, 2002
15,630
3
キャンプスワ&#
Someone should tell that guy that the iPod nano does have a built in FM radio.
Not a big deal.

Maybe he could have dedicated more of the article to aviation-related uses.....
Oh he did, and the pics as well, that is, if you know what to look/read for. :)

Oh, and what do you think about iPad for aviation purposes, dmr727?
Curious to see what dmr727 thinks.

Of course some others of us are pilots too. :)
 

Surely

Guest
Oct 27, 2007
15,043
8
Los Angeles, CA
Not a big deal.
True, but also not factual.

Oh he did, and the pics as well, that is, if you know what to look/read for. :)
Yes, I saw the pics, but around 80% or so of the article is about general iPad rah-rah stuff, and only around 20% is about potential iPad uses in aviation. Although not a pilot, I would have been interested in learning more....

Curious to see what dmr727 thinks.

Of course some others of us are pilots too. :)
Sorry..... I don't know what everyone here does for a living (or as a hobby).

:)
 

Lobaeux

macrumors newbie
Feb 7, 2010
10
10
I for one will be buying an iPad. It could be key for pilots and may usher in a true paper-less cockpit.
I carry a whole bag full of approach plates, VFR and IFR Sups, regs, FAR/AIM, tech manuals and such. Having everything on an iPad would be huge.
 

noslenam

macrumors regular
Jan 29, 2010
119
89
I for one will be buying an iPad. It could be key for pilots and may usher in a true paper-less cockpit.
I carry a whole bag full of approach plates, VFR and IFR Sups, regs, FAR/AIM, tech manuals and such. Having everything on an iPad would be huge.
I am a full time flight instructor and fir me the iPad is a sure thing. Foreflight mobile 3 will be a fantastic app on the ipad. Great way to review weather, file flight plans, inflight charts and approach plates. Also great around the office with the wifi. Not to mention Logten mobile logbook.

Heck we even have inflight movies at our fingertips. :)
or I should say my son will.

Should fit well in my headset bag!
 

steve-p

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2008
1,739
41
Newbury, UK
I for one will be buying an iPad. It could be key for pilots and may usher in a true paper-less cockpit.
I carry a whole bag full of approach plates, VFR and IFR Sups, regs, FAR/AIM, tech manuals and such. Having everything on an iPad would be huge.
Will it really replace a lot of it though? Presumably you still need to take that as well as the iPad. Otherwise what happens if it fails in flight?
 

MadGoat

macrumors 65816
Jul 30, 2007
1,146
15
Canada
Because of the regulations etc you will still have to stick to your paper versions of documents. iPad will not replace them.
That, and the acceptance of Apple products in such an environment wouldn't happen, they'd sooner go with a windows based buggy device.
 

Hmac

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2007
2,128
2
Midwest USA
The iPad uses assisted GPS, meaning that it requires radio communication with a ground-based assistance server. Note, therefore that unless/until the FAA begins allowing cellphone use on commercial airliners, iPad-based GPS won't work because a) cellphone use in flight isn't allowed and b)the iPad (like the iPhone) GPS won't work in "airplane mode" since its 3G function is turned off.

Cellphone use isn't restricted on private "general aviation" flights, so in your Cessna 172, the GPS function might work fine, but also note that cell phone tower antennas don't radiate vertically. That means above a certain altitude, cellphones (presumably including the iPad's A-GPS which requires a 3G connection) won't work. Functionality varies somewhat depending on the tower density in a given geographic area, but connectivity is generally very spotty at 2000 feet above-ground, and universally gone at 8000 feet AGL. Bottom line, GPS on the iPad isn't likely to be a useful feature in aviation.

Don't get me wrong...for paperwork, flight planning, charts (as a convenient supplement to the required paper charts) I agree the iPad could be a very useful tool. I'm sure there is or will be "an app for that".
 

anjinha

macrumors 604
Oct 21, 2006
7,271
62
San Francisco, CA
The iPad uses assisted GPS, meaning that it requires radio communication with a ground-based assistance server. Note, therefore that unless/until the FAA begins allowing cellphone use on commercial airliners, iPad-based GPS won't work because a) cellphone use in flight isn't allowed and b)the iPad (like the iPhone) GPS won't work in "airplane mode" since its 3G function is turned off.
Wrong. Assisted GPS means it uses WiFi and cell towers to help the GPS find its location quicker, but the GPS still works by itself. Same as the iPhone 3G and 3GS.
 

Hmac

macrumors 68020
May 30, 2007
2,128
2
Midwest USA
Wrong. Assisted GPS means it uses WiFi and cell towers to help the GPS find its location quicker, but the GPS still works by itself. Same as the iPhone 3G and 3GS.
Yeh, I guess that may be right. When you set the iPhone to "airplane" mode as required for a commercial flight so it doesn't radiate, it turns GPS off, but that wouldn't be necessary on a private flight.
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
Wrong. Assisted GPS means it uses WiFi and cell towers to help the GPS find its location quicker,
Please stop repeating this misconception. Being a veteran poster, you should know better by now:

WiFi and Cell id locating are NOT REPEAT NOT A-GPS. They're separate methods.

but the GPS still works by itself. Same as the iPhone 3G and 3GS.
Hopefully it will, but we don't know this yet for sure.

As for using the iPad as a flight aid, I'm all for it, even though Windows Tablets work just fine and are available in a more ruggedized form.

Other computers also have the ability to use an external GPS puck placed in the best spot for reception. (Okay, I mount keep my standalone aviation GPS on the yoke, so I guess the iPad could go there, too.)

The biggest downside for me would be the lack of multitasking. Sometimes I want to use a different program for a second, and it'd be ridiculous to lose critical navigation / terrain alerts with Apple's single-tasking model.
 

Kadman

macrumors 65816
Sep 22, 2007
1,216
0
Some would just get so engrossed in a game of Peggle that they'd totally blow by their destination in say, Minneapolis and just keep flying. :D
 

admanimal

macrumors 68040
Apr 22, 2005
3,530
2
Please stop repeating this misconception. Being a veteran poster, you should know better by now:

WiFi and Cell id locating are NOT REPEAT NOT A-GPS. They're separate methods.



Hopefully it will, but we don't know this yet for sure.
He is not posting misinformation. Assisted GPS does use Cell triangulation and maybe Wifi lookup (not sure about that) to speed and in some cases improve the accuracy of the localization process. Standard GPS devices have a long initial localization because they need to determine which satellite(s) are best to use before it can do quick position updates, and this requires getting some initial position estimate via GPS. Assisted GPS uses the relatively fast Cell triangulation to get this initial estimate, which allows it to lookup the optimal GPS satellite more quickly.

Assisted GPS can also work without the help of cell triangulation, it just takes longer. The iPad's GPS will work exactly like the iPhone's.
 

voidptr

macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2007
127
0
Because of the regulations etc you will still have to stick to your paper versions of documents. iPad will not replace them.
Depends on the regulations you're operating under. Part 91 (non-commercial general aviation) can use this as an electronic flight bag without paper backups just fine.

I'd rather have this for charts and approach plates on my lap during flight with the paper charts in the bag for backup only. As for GPS, I've already got one of them installed the panel, so I don't care as much about having GPS on it and just plan on getting the wifi model for now.
 

Richdmoore

macrumors 68000
Jul 24, 2007
1,778
251
Troutdale, OR
For Part 91, I think it would be very useful addition, even without GPS data. You simply could use it manually to pan preloaded sectionals, appch plates, view AFD info, AOPA aiport handbook, etc.... Right now you can do some of that with an iphone in airplane mode, but it would be much easier to read in flight on a large screen.

Now, the killer app would be a connection to provide power and gps position data from an panel installed GPS. (I bet that some experimental homebuliders already have created something like this.) Then any GPS programs would work just as well or better than an installed large screen MFD, at a fraction of the cost of certified avionics.

Should be interesting times in the next year as we see what develops.
 

dogcowdaddy

macrumors newbie
Jul 9, 2007
16
0
I currenntly use an Anywhere Travel Companion, a PDA based aviation moving map which has a built-in GPS, and overlays XM weather via bluetooth. The software is written by a company called Control Motion. On their discussion forums about a month ago they mentioned that they were developing an application for the iPhone. At first I thought it would be fairly useless given the small display on the iPhone, but with the larger display of the iPad I think it could be a great system. Their software has some excellent features (sectional chart display, approach plates, taxi diagrams,virtual ILS to any runway), but is constrained by the slow speed and small display of the PDA. Their database updates are also a fraction of what they are for the Garmin Units. I am hoping for an official announcement at Sun-Fun. Their web site is www.anywheremap.com . I have no affiliation with the company, just a satisfied customer.

FWIW

Jim
 

kdarling

macrumors P6
He is not posting misinformation. Assisted GPS does use Cell triangulation and maybe Wifi lookup (not sure about that) to speed and in some cases improve the accuracy of the localization process.
Apple started this whole misconception back when they were trying to excuse the lack of GPS in their first iPhone, and acted like WiFi and Cell Id were the same thing.

A-GPS is only about GPS on the phone itself, and assistance to it. Using other methods in conjunction with GPS makes up a hybrid system, not A-GPS.

ATT 3G A-GPS consists of getting the latest satellite almanac, orbit and status information from a network. AFAIK (and I'm in their developer program) they don't have any other assistance available to a phone itself. (They do use tower triangulation via U-TDOA for E911, but that's not sent back to the phone.)

Standard GPS devices have a long initial localization because they need to determine which satellite(s) are best to use before it can do quick position updates, and this requires getting some initial position estimate via GPS.
The major initial delay is because the device must download the latest satellite information from the satellites themselves at only 50 bits per second, and that can take ten+ minutes. An assistance server provides that information in a second or two instead.

Assisted GPS uses the relatively fast Cell triangulation to get this initial estimate, which allows it to lookup the optimal GPS satellite more quickly.
This confuses people as well. It is true that A-GPS often sends the current cell id to the assistance server in order to receive a rough estimate of location. However, that has nothing to do with the independent Cell Id or WiFi methods that Google or Skyhook provide on the iPhone, which are there to speed up giving the user a location, not for speeding up the GPS.

Regards.
 

toddngina

macrumors member
Feb 13, 2008
95
0
I think it will be useful. As a military heavy airlift pilot, I have about 60 pdf documents that make up our electronic trip kit that are very difficult to access. In all it's wisdom, the USAF quit producing paper pubs (supporting regs, not aeronautical info), without an easy way to view them. Pulling out the laptop is a pain and cumbersome; I've tried referencing them on my Sony Reader - very slow and not so good on pdfs with tables/charts/diagrams. iPad should be great for this, looking forward to adding one to my flight bag as soon as its released.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jul 19, 2002
15,630
3
キャンプスワ&#
I think it will be useful. As a military heavy airlift pilot, I have about 60 pdf documents that make up our electronic trip kit that are very difficult to access. In all it's wisdom, the USAF quit producing paper pubs (supporting regs, not aeronautical info), without an easy way to view them. Pulling out the laptop is a pain and cumbersome; I've tried referencing them on my Sony Reader - very slow and not so good on pdfs with tables/charts/diagrams. iPad should be great for this, looking forward to adding one to my flight bag as soon as its released.
Sounds like a good use for the iPad.
 

flynz4

macrumors 68040
Aug 9, 2009
3,125
35
Portland, OR
It is highly unlikely (~0%) that the GPS in 3G would be "legal" for IFR flight... and for lots of good reasons.

Personally, I am not a fan of "general purpose devices" for use in the cockpit. They do have a place for situational awareness, and they are fine for VFR flight. However, in an IFR situation... things are just too complex to rely on anything except a purpose built device. Unfortunately, they are expensive. There is quite a bit of controversy about this in the flying community... but the vast majority of pilots that I trust, seem to be on the same side of this debate as myself.

Having said that... I think the tablet is an incredible aid to the pilot. I would be happy to use it as an extra source of pre-flight weather. I would like my aircraft documentation stored on the device. I personally would not use it for checklists. I do have an electronic pre-flight checklist built into my panel, but the last thing you would want is an electronic checklist for use in an emergency.

/Jim
 

ct2k7

macrumors 603
Aug 29, 2008
5,907
391
London
It is highly unlikely (~0%) that the GPS in 3G would be "legal" for IFR flight... and for lots of good reasons.

Personally, I am not a fan of "general purpose devices" for use in the cockpit. They do have a place for situational awareness, and they are fine for VFR flight. However, in an IFR situation... things are just too complex to rely on anything except a purpose built device. Unfortunately, they are expensive. There is quite a bit of controversy about this in the flying community... but the vast majority of pilots that I trust, seem to be on the same side of this debate as myself.

Having said that... I think the tablet is an incredible aid to the pilot. I would be happy to use it as an extra source of pre-flight weather. I would like my aircraft documentation stored on the device. I personally would not use it for checklists. I do have an electronic pre-flight checklist built into my panel, but the last thing you would want is an electronic checklist for use in an emergency.

/Jim
Very well said - you've listed most of the points off my head - however - has anyone actually tried to use it in the cockpit - wouldn't it distract you?