Stratus Insight is an EFB suite that includes VFR sectionals, IFR low- and high-altitude charts, georeferenced instrument approach plates, a terrain awareness and warning system, and an attitude and heading reference system with synthetic vision. In addition to these typical EFB features, Stratus Insight also provides ATC radio transcription and playback, vertical weather profiles, radar forecasts, and a feature the company calls Smart Flight Plan. Stratus Insight is tightly integrated with all generations of Stratus receivers, which provide subscription-free weather, WAAS GPS information, and ADS-B traffic to the app during flight.
Stratus Insight’s weather tools were designed to give pilots a deeper understanding of weather for improved preflight planning, the company said in a press release. Weather modeling products such as Radar Forecast and a Vertical Weather Profile tool allow pilots to see conditions across their route of flight based on their aircraft speed and departure time. If weather changes force a pilot to take an alternate route, Stratus Insight goes beyond simply listing alternate airports; the Smart Flight Plan tool considers fuel stops and day/night currency. Supplemental attitude information provided by a Stratus receiver essentially creates a backup glass cockpit, with synthetic vision, on the iPad screen.
The app can be paired with a Bluetooth headset or audio panel, or used with a Stratus Audio Cable, to provide pilots with audible terrain alerts, runway information, and other aural messages. Use of the Stratus audio cable is required to enable the ATC radio transcription feature, which is very similar to visual voicemail—ATC communications are converted into text and displayed in the app, allowing pilots to receive a clearance, automatic terminal information service , or other instructions without having to write them down.
The speech recognition and language understanding technology that drives the radio transcription feature was custom designed by Appareo’s AI division. “We are focused on developing machine learning technology to reduce workload and increase safety in the cockpit,” said Appareo AI Systems Director Josh Gelinske. While speech recognition, translation, and transcription features have become commonplace, ATC communications present many challenges for common speech recognition systems—including the high rate of speech, noisy signal, narrow frequency band, and unique location identifiers and other terminology. Appareo identified those shortfalls in the existing technology and developed a speech recognition system customized for aviation.
“We began by designing a deep neural network and training it on thousands of hours of speech and hundreds of hours of ATC data,” Gelinske said. Appareo then designed a custom aviation speech recognition system that can run on mobile devices without requiring cellular service or an internet connection, so there would be no accessibility limitations during flight. “Natural language processing is also used to interpret the output of the speech recognition system, to present it in a more pilot-friendly format. For example, tail numbers, altitudes, runways, and frequencies are transcribed in a way that will be more helpful to pilots.”
“This new AI technology is the baseline for exciting features we have in our app roadmap, which is focused on creating a safer, more convenient way to fly,” said Appareo Aviation President Kris Garberg.
Stratus Insight has replaced Aerovie in the Stratus app family. Stratus Horizon Pro, the first app specifically designed to provide ATC radio transcription and playback to pilots, remains available as a standalone product—although all of its features now are available in the Stratus Insight EFB.
Stratus Insight is available only for iOS devices, and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store. Two subscription plans are available, $9.99 per month or $99.99 for a year, and the company offers a 30-day free trial period. U.S. chart coverage is included. A Stratus audio cable ($49.99) is required to enable the radio transcription and playback features.