March 1, 2012
By Ian J. Twombly
You likely know the name Flight Guide from the small airport information books. This is a good introduction to the user experience behind the application. More than any other all-in-one flight planning and navigation app, iEFB focuses on airports. It's the default tab, and it’s where the app shines. Information is presented similar to the printed book, which works well in the app. Perhaps the app’s best feature is the georeferenced airport diagram right on the airport information page. Being able to see where you are on the airport while simultaneously looking up airport information can be helpful.
The navigation and charting are well done, with seamless IFR and VFR charts, approach plates and airport diagrams that overlay with georeferencing, and quick scrolling and zooming. Flight planning is painless, which is a compliment given the functionality of competing apps. Simply tap on an airport in the chart view to add it to the plan, or go to the airport page and add it there. Update 4.2, which is due out soon, will include airway planning. Flight Guide has been on the forefront with integrating technologies into the app, and Zaon traffic can be displayed on the map page.
Where the app currently falls short against the competition is weather. There is a full suite of weather graphics, but you can only access them while connected to a network, and there’s no way to overlay them on the map (also to change in a future release). iEFB does not yet integrate XM or ADS-B, meaning regardless of what the app shows now, it’s stagnant. Expect that to change sometime this spring with a new update, said a company representative. When it does, iEFB will be a must-try navigation and planning suite.
Price: Subscriptions range from $99 for a year of VFR information to $199 a year for the full suite
Contact: www.flightguide.com; Apple App store
There are no two ways around it—the iPad is large. That can present a problem in the cockpit. ASA recently released two kneeboards aimed at getting the most out of the iPad in an efficient way. The kneeboards represent opposite ends of the spectrum. The higher-end portfolio-style kneeboard looks like a nice leather case you would buy at any electronics store, but it comes with a detachable strap for when you’re flying. Thus you’ll have a case that’s useful in both the airplane and the office. Inside the cover is a small pocket, and there are slots that allow it to stand both horizontally and vertically. The other case is a neoprene sleeve that grabs the iPad on both sides and keeps it either flat against your leg (and secure with a strap), or tilted upright with a collapsible stand. There’s a plastic cover to protect the iPad screen that can be left on or flipped up and out of the way. Both cases are nicely constructed and good bargains, although neither one is without at least a minor drawback—the portfolio case lacks any means to securely close the top, while the other kneeboard has a little too much material on the top, blocking the outer edges of the viewing area.
Price: $29.95 for regular kneeboard; $59.95 for portfolio style
If you’re the type of pilot who thinks the iPad is the best thing to happen to aviation since cockpit weather, you have hit the jackpot. Baron’s Mobile Link finally makes it possible to get datalink weather on the iPad.
To get the system up and running you’ll need a WX Worx receiver in addition to the Baron Mobile Link and a compatible iPad app. The setup looks extensive but is quite easy, especially if you already have a WX Worx receiver. If so, you’ll simply need to plug in your Mobile Link to the cigarette outlet and then run a data cord between the Mobile Link and the WX Worx receiver. The receiver has both a GPS and weather receiver, but Baron says the GPS does not yet work through Mobile Link. The Mobile Link works via Wi-Fi, meaning you can stow the box pretty much anywhere in the cabin and run your iPad wirelessly off the device. Simply choose the Mobile Link Wi-Fi signal on the iPad, and you’re off.
As of this writing, only ForeFlight and Global Navsource EFB are compatible, but about a dozen other apps are working on it. The display on ForeFlight is perfect. It will display all the products you are accustomed to seeing with datalink weather, including radar, METARs and TAFs, and a lot more. Mobile Link is a great device and one that finally makes the iPad complete as an aviation tool.
Price: $199.99 for Mobile Link; $1,124 for package that includes WX Worx receiver ($34.99/month minimum subscription cost)
Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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