Flying with an iPad as a commercial pilot can ease many tasks during a flight.
iPad is a small investment for pilots if they are already working as a commercial pilot.
Regardless, before you purchase an iPad, knowing the pros and cons of the iPad from this article will help you.
I shared a bit from my own experience on using the iPad in the cockpit. I learned:
- The benefits I have by using an iPad in the cockpit;
- Likewise, what are the disadvantages of focusing too much on the iPad?
I want to begin by explaining the pros of using an iPad on board.
What are the pros of flying with iPads?
iPad is a tool that is recommended by many airliners for pilots to use in the cockpit.
iPad can store numerous information and display them within seconds. Hence an iPad increases the efficiency of a pilot.
Merely by using an iPad and installing the Foreflight app on your iPad will change your flying experience.
In the past, pilots had to carry a pile of paper and several books every time they went to flight.
A commercial pilot traveling to controlled airspace has to carry:
- Aeronautical information manual;
- Instrument Approach charts;
- Enroute charts;
- Standard instrument departure charts;
- Standard arrival charts;
Pilots carry all this information in the form of books or paper bindings.
But fortunately, today, commercial pilots can carry all those papers in the form of PDF files or app versions on their iPad.
Can you imagine how obvious things have become for pilots?
Just one tool that is the size of a book and as slim as a cellphone can replace all those heavy paper books.
Long gone are the days when commercial pilots had to carry so many books in their flight bags.
You can use an iPad for flight planning and calculations.
Pilots can do all their flight planning and the correlated calculations on their iPad. In the past pilots had to use an E6B flight computer to do all those tasks and plan a flight using:
- A map;
- A plotter;
- A navigation log.
Ipad has replaced all the manual calculation jobs and the decade-old techniques for creating a flight plan.
A pilot can input the information on their iPad or in specific apps to get the results in seconds.
Commercial pilots today, save time and have a much more accurate information.
iPads enhance the situational awareness of pilots.
I believe by now, you already know about the use of portable ADS-B devices. If you don’t know, I will give you a quick idea of the tool here.
ADS-B device can receive information on the weather en route and the other traffic in the same airspace.
To display all this information, you need an iPad. Flying with a cellular iPad together with a portable ADS-B device can develop situational awareness of a pilot.
Do you want to know how?
Installing the Foreflight app in your cellular iPad will allow you to see your current location, and having a flight plan will show your flight path ahead.
- Linking the iPad with the portable ADS-B device will allow the pilot to see the weather ahead;
- As well as view the position of all other aircraft relative to your plane in the airspace.
You will not only see the other airplanes’ position but airplane identification with their altitude.
Thus flying with the iPad, you will be a lot aware of your surroundings and conduct a safer flight.
- Having a portable ADS-B will enable the pilot to receive METAR, TAF, and wind aloft report through their Foreflight app on their iPad.
A pilot now doesn’t have to face uncertain weather conditions as they can forecast using the iPad and make decisions well ahead of time.
Zooming maps on the iPad can be useful too.
It may not sound a lot for you, but in reality, zooming in to your exact position can be conducive. Zooming in to printed maps is impossible, and we have to rely on what we see precisely on the map.
On the other hand, commercial pilots zoom in to the map on their iPad to figure out where is their next checkpoint and where they are relative to the checkpoint currently.
Especially during VFR flights being able to zoom in to your current location can be handy.
RELATED: Do student pilots need an iPad?
Numerous apps in iStore.
I only mentioned the Foreflight app in this article. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of useful apps for pilots in the iStore.
Some of the apps are inexpensive and can do incredible tasks for a commercial pilot.
But I suggest you don’t install all of them on your iPad because you will only distract yourself with that.
Install five useful apps you think is essential for you, and trust me, your flying experience will become a lot more enjoyable.
RELATED: Best Apps for pilots.
Available accessories for iPads.
There are tons of accessories available for iPads. You can order different accessories to suit your needs for flying with an iPad.
As a pilot, you may want to order a kneeboard for your iPad or an iPad mount to stick your iPad on the yoke.
You can choose from various options to buy from online stores and offline stores.
Another essential thing to buy is tempered glass for your iPad screen, which is also widely available.
What are the cons of the iPad?
The price of an iPad is not higher than the cost of standard android tablets. Yet I suggest pilots to buy the iPad.
There are numerous paid and free apps available for iPad in the iStore.
On the contrary, though android tablets are a cheaper alternative, the android play store doesn’t have many useful apps dedicated for commercial pilots like iStore.
iPads can be very distracting.
I mentioned earlier that iPads could be very distracting. Especially with thousands of apps to choose, one can get easily distracted and focus on installing new apps.
A pilot must spend time on familiarizing himself with only a few apps so that they can use it during the flight efficiently.
Having many apps installed on your iPad in a disorganized way will waste your time during a flight while you are looking for one useful app.
Spending time to master using one app is essential rather than playing with ten new apps daily. Having fewer Apps saved in an organized manner can aid in flying with the iPad massively.
Limited space on the iPad.
Ipads don’t have an external memory card slot, unlike android devices. So once you run out of space, you have to delete a few pictures here and a few videos there to clean up areas.
At some point, you might need some extra space on your device to accommodate a few other charts.
Thus I always suggest everyone buy an iPad that is at least 128 GB. That way, you will not have trouble deleting some files to accommodate more essential data.
RELATED: Best iPad for pilots.
Batteries run out quickly.
From my experience, I have noticed batteries on iPads run out quicker than android devices.
What you don’t want is your iPad to turn off in the middle of a flight.
Imagine you are heading towards a thunderstorm and your iPad stopped working.
What can be worse than that?
I know pilots always flew without iPads in the past. But once a pilot gets used to flying with an iPad, it becomes quite troublesome for a commercial pilot to operate without one.
Think of it like this:
- You have an iPad that can help you to learn about the weather ahead, but it turned off the moment you realized the weather ahead is going to get worse.
And with your iPad not working, you will not know which direction to fly now unless you have a GPS in your airplane.
I suppose as a commercial pilot, your aircraft has a Garmin GPS, but your GPS will not show the other traffic in the airspace.
To view other traffic in a low visibility airspace is critical to avoid collision courses that you can’t do with a dead battery in your iPad.
Extra costs with buying iPads.
Only buying an iPad is not going to work wonders for you in flights. There are other extra expenses a commercial pilot needs to count for the iPad to work at its full potential.
If you buy a non-cellular iPad, then your iPad will not have a GPS chip inside.
- Thus you have to buy an external GPS tracker.
- Next, you have to subscribe to some apps that will aid you during your flight. Not all apps are free, especially the practical ones.
- Also, buying a portable ADS-B device is essential to display traffic in the vicinity through your iPad apps.
- Lastly, you have to purchase a tempered glass for your iPad;
- And a kneeboard to use your iPad comfortably while flying the aircraft.