Pilots have traditionally used paper charts, maps, manuals, and checklists to perform their duties in the cock pit. This paper material was known as their flight bag. Now, with the iPad, pilots are using an electronic flight bag better known as an EFB. The iPad can store and display all of this information that is vital to pilots in one small neat little device. It can be placed on the pilot’s lap or it can be mounted in a variety of ways suitable to the aircraft and the pilot. The iPad has greatly reduced clutter and increased efficiency in the cockpit.
The pilot will use the iPad for planning a flight and also for referencing everything that was planned while in mid-flight. Maps will be displayed very clearly and can be magnified by pinching the screen to see greater detail. This is a huge benefit that an iPad provides. Not only can it display the moving map, but it can also display the course to follow and the terrain below. With its built in GPS it tracks where the plane is on the planned course. It will also show the weather along the route and any restricted flight zones. The value of an EFB is almost limitless.
Approach charts are another huge benefit. The amount of space these charts would take up and the weight carrying them around is alone reason enough to use the iPad. An approach chart is an informational map that displays a specific approach route to follow when approaching an airport. Most often used during an instrument flight in bad weather so as to systematically approach and line up with the correct runway when you have no visual clues outside the cockpit. This keeps the aircraft on an organized and predetermined path to the runway including the correct glide path for a proper touchdown at the approach end of the runway. All this displayed on an iPad.
There are now several sophisticated aviation apps that boggle the mind. Synthetic vision will display on the iPad screen a virtual picture of the outside view through the cockpit window, as if you were looking at the real outside view. Everything is displayed as if it was real including terrain, airports, runways, your altitude, guiding you with situational awareness only found on very expensive avionics permanently mounted in certain aircraft. The iPad has brought this kind of useful sophistication to the average pilot and aircraft owner. I know the owner at www.airbornephoto.com and he uses an aviation app on his smart phone.
Operational manuals and checklists are at your finger tips as well as many complex programs that are helpful in aviation. Fully certified in commercial aircraft the iPad can integrate with the installed aircraft systems such as the Flight Management System that controls the aircraft in flight. This eases up on the workload for the pilot by allowing him to set up the iPad with flight plans and other information before he gets in the plane. Now the iPad can talk to the FMS and transfer the information it has stored for the flight. Very useful indeed!
With WiFi the iPad can download all kinds of information useful to pilots such as real time weather. Since the weather is constantly changing, getting real time updates is vital to a safe flight. Current radar depictions display nicely on the iPad’s screen keeping the pilot abreast of any hazardous weather such as a line of thunderstorms. If you can see it in real time, then you can avoid it and plot a safer course. Another useful download would be the TFR’s. Temporary flight restricted airspace can pop up at any time and the pilot is responsible to avoid it. With these restrictions depicted on the iPad screen it is so easy to be aware their position and avoid them.