July 31, 2012
By Ian J. Twombly
Among the gaggle of new options for subscription-free weather introduced this year at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., is FreeFlight’s Xplorer.
Xplorer receives all of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast’s (ADS-B’s) weather signal (called flight information services-broadcast, or FIS-B) and transmits it to the iPad for weather on either FreeFlight’s native application (less than $1) or on WingX, and soon other applications. Xplorer differs from most boxes in that it’s installed in the airplane. This negates the need to worry about power and placement, but of course increases the cost.
FreeFlight is hoping that the security of installation, as well as the upgrade path to ADS-B Out will make it competitive. Since most aircraft will require an ADS-B Out signal by 2020, and that signal is required to see ADS-B In traffic on the iPad, a cheaper upgrade path may be a good option for some owners. How much that upgrade will be is yet to be determined.
Xplorer sells for $585, and will be available starting next month.
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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