Being a pilot comes with responsibility, and having a cockpit iPad can help you reduce your stress massively if you know the proper use of it.
Buying the most suitable cockpit iPad and the essential accessories can enhance a student pilot’s performance in the cockpit.
Not just iPad for pilots, I have shared about an affordable alternative to cockpit iPads that will help student pilots reduce stress while flying.
What is the best iPad for pilots?
The best iPad for a pilot is the one that a pilot finds most convenient during flights.
When I say convenient, I mean about using a device that aids in a pilot’s flying performance and ensure safety.
Many pilots say that the iPad pro 11 inches is the most suitable device to use inside the cockpit.
However, I think differently, and my straightforward suggestion is to choose an iPad according to the airplane that you fly frequently.
You might be wondering: What am I suggesting?
I am saying the iPad for aviation use shouldn’t be too big for your cockpit, neither too small.
I will clarify further:
- An iPad with a large screen for student pilots is not suitable. It will be hard to fit an iPad pro 12.9 inches inside the tight cockpit of a Cessna 172. An iPad mini is more appropriate for student pilots.
- On the contrary, airline pilots need the iPad for cockpit management. An iPad replaces all the paper flying charts and manuals. An iPad pro 12.9 can conveniently fit inside the airliner cockpit.
Having a bigger iPad for flying in a small cockpit won’t be user friendly. Using a big iPad will reduce your room to move freely and do other tasks.
Likewise, it is not an issue to use the iPad Pro 12.9 inches in the airliner cockpit, and it is an essential replacement for many other piles of books.
An iPad with a tiny screen such as the iPad mini is alright for using most aviation apps in commercial jets. However, an iPad Pro is more practical for use in bigger cockpits.
What is your actual purpose of using iPad for flying?
Student pilots and private pilots mostly use the iPad for navigation. An iPad with the Foreflight app is a fantastic tool to navigate through any airspace.
A small screen may not be suitable to load all your maps, and you will have to zoom in for a more unobstructed view.
RELATED: Do student pilots need an iPad?
I think a responsible pilot must buy an iPad following the current stage of their flying.
You want an iPad to enhance your performance inside the cockpit. So buy a cockpit iPad that will serve the purpose flawlessly.
The best iPad for pilots depend on the stage of flight training or flying career the pilots are at the time of purchase. Thus the best iPad for flying are as follows:
- Student Pilots: Buy iPad mini which is best for the use in small cockpit;
- Private Pilots: Buying an iPad mini or an iPad Air assuming a private pilot might require a slightly bigger screen for Instrument flights.
- Commercial Pilots: Choose iPad Pro 11 or iPad pro 12.9 inches. In the future, you will be flying airliners, and investing in a big-screen iPad is an excellent idea.
My suggestion for pilots flying at any stage is to buy the 11 inches iPad pro. It is appropriate for the use in the smaller cockpit as well as you can use it as a professional pilot in bigger aircraft.
If you want a bigger screen but a lesser room inside the cockpit, that is your choice.
By now, you have an idea of what size iPad to choose for flying an airplane.
But how about the internal storage of your iPad?
You need space in your iPad to store various Aviation APPS and files that are useful for flying. iPad without the Foreflight application is not very helpful inside the cockpit.
So, let’s discuss the internal memory aspect of the cockpit iPad for pilots in the next section.
What is the appropriate internal storage size for the cockpit iPad?
The best iPad for aviation use must have adequate internal disc space to save all the required documents a pilot needs to read.
Regardless of what I say, commercial pilots ought to keep track of so many files and folders.
- As a student pilot, you may not have to carry so many manuals or charts.
- On the other hand, a professional pilot for an airline, an iPad with a more significant memory, is a stress reliever.
With that in mind, a sensible pilot must buy an iPad for flying, which has ample internal storage.
You do not want to run out space on your iPad while trying to save:
- Company manuals;
- Pdf files;
- Essential apps;
- And various other files.
How often are you willing to invest in a new cockpit iPad?
Think of it as an investment for your career in aviation. Buy the one that has at least 128 GB of internal storage.
A pilot does not merely save flying applications or files on the iPad. You may save various pictures and videos that you capture during your flight. Having ample internal storage will benefit you in numerous ways.
Before you buy an iPad, consider these things:
- It is an investment and not merely a fancy gear for flying;
- You will use the iPad as long as it does the job without interruption.
- As long as there are updates available for your version of the iPad, the iPad is safe to use.
Having an iPad as a student pilot or commercial pilot will benefit you more than any other typical iPad user.
RELATED: Do student pilots need an iPad?
I am not disapproving of what you choose, but I am just suggesting the best possible option.
A device that is running out of space might freeze or take time to load aviation applications, which will hinder the smooth flow of your flight.
Why iPad with cellular connectivity is best for flying?
Primarily pilots use iPads to use numerous aviation apps available for the device.
Yet the most useful application for iPad is the Foreflight app for navigation. And to locate the aircraft position accurately, a pilot needs an external GPS tracker.
However, the iPad with cellular connectivity has a built-in GPS chip. Thus the pilot does not have to buy an external GPS tracker.
Indeed, cellular connectivity and subscription can be distracting during a flight. You must keep your iPad in airplane mode, and yet the GPS tracker will keep working.
However, an iPad for a pilot with only Wi-Fi connectivity, will not detect the location without a Wi-Fi connection.
And I believe you will not have WiFi connection up in the air.
You do not have to turn on cellular connectivity for the satellite to discover your position. The satellite needs only a GPS chip in your device to determine your precise location on the map.
An iPad with GPS tracker in it will display the position far accurately than an iPad with Wi-Fi connections.
Having a GPS tracker on the iPad can detect your location quicker than a WiFi-only iPad.
During the flight, you can find your location and your en route details using the Foreflight app.
RELATED: Aviation APPS for pilots and flying.
Nevertheless, pairing WiFi-only iPads with an external GPS tracker will allow the same aviation related features as the iPad with cellular connectivity.
Similarly, having a cellular model of an iPad can be a life savior in case an external GPS device fails.
Foreflight iPad requirements.
iPad is crucial for pilots to have better situational awareness during flights. Flying with an iPad is not essential for student pilots before getting solo.
RELATED: Do student pilots need an iPad?
For private pilots, an iPad for flying aids determining their position and their routes for cross country flights.
Today using ADS-B in and ADS-B out pilots can learn about the traffic in the vicinity.
Cockpit iPads can even display the weather en-route.
RELATED: What is ADS-B in aviation?
Therefore pilots use the ForeFlight app on their iPad for flying the aircraft with ease.
It is essential to know which iPad is best to use with the ForeFlight app before buying an iPad.
The ForeFlight app is only usable in the iOs system, and unfortunately, Android users cannot use the ForeFlight app.
To use the Foreflight app, you must have an iOs device with:
- Big enough screen to view the map precisely;
- Sufficient storage; and
- WiFi plus Cellular connectivity.
Why do you think I mention sufficient storage?
Imagine you have an iPad that can’t store the ForeFlight app without deleting some pictures or videos you have.
I don’t want you to delete the outstanding video you recorded during your last landing to save some new charts for your next flight.
Buying an iPad with at least 128 GB is recommended for flying.
Likewise, a WiFi plus Cellular connectivity iPad is essential for the ForeFlight app to track your exact location.
A WiFi-only iPad can’t track your location without the aid of an external GPS tracker.
Lastly, I want to include that you must choose an iPad that is not too small.
The purpose of using an iPad for flying is to have a better situational awareness, and if you are distracted by zooming in and out of the map due to a smaller screen, the iPad will not help.
Thus the iPad Air is an appropriate tablet for pilots. Using an iOs smartphone to use the ForeFlight app is more distracting.
Instead of concentrating on the safety of flight, a smartphone will distract you.
Buy a device like iPad air or even the iPad mini and dedicate that for only flying aircraft.
Next, subscribe to the Foreflight app, which is inexpensive for the tasks it accomplishes during a flight.
Subscription for the ForeFlight app is 200 USD for one year license. It is a good investment. But remember that ForeFlight is only usable in iOs devices. Regardless, android device users also can have access to similar apps from their play store.
An affordable alternative to cockpit iPads: Best tablet for aviation use.
The best alternative to iPads currently is the Nexus 9 tablet.
It is quite affordable compared to iPads. Nevertheless, the Nexus 9 performs as good as cockpit iPads.
The functionalities are the same as iPads, with only one drawback.
The internal storage for the Nexus 9 tablets are very minimal compared to iPads.
However, if you are not willing to pay for iPads, then the only android option I suggest is this Nexus 9 tablet.
And Nexus 9 tablets come with a GPS receiver even with the only Wi-Fi connectivity options.
Nevertheless, I have mentioned earlier, having a good ADS-B receiver is always a good option.
Now that you know which is the best iPad for aviation use, I have some bonus tips for you on how to use your iPad for pilots the right way.