John Zimmerman has recently written a lengthy article for Air Facts about the iPad and its usefulness where he listed his top five aviation uses for the iPad. These aviation uses included:
- The ability to carry more charts and more current charts. Moreover, the iPad makes it both cheaper and easier to have all of the latest charts for an entire route plus updates are available at the push of the button.
- The ability to receive more pre-flight weather briefings with more weather graphics. Given the iPad’s portability and the quality of the apps, there is no need to make a last minute dash to the computer or for waiting on hold with Flight Service.
- The ability to do more performance reviews and weight and balance calculations. Since this is all on his iPad, John noted that he is also more likely to check everything because there are great and inexpensive apps to do all sorts of tasks. For example: He uses Numbers to make a custom weight and balance spreadsheet for each aircraft and then GoodReader to store and read all of the information manuals from manufacturers.
- The ability to have consistent information and hardware when moving between different aircraft. John pointed out that the oldest aircraft he flies was built in 1963 while the newest was built in 2011 – meaning the only consistent thing for both is his iPad.
- The ability of the iPad to be a decent backup navigator but John also noted that this is probably the iPad’s weakest feature because its not a Garmin 796 when it comes to navigation. Nevertheless, the iPad is not that bad and its improving as the apps become more mature. Moreover, the iPad has a great battery life – meaning that a user is not dependent on the cigarette lighter.
John concluded that his list shows that the iPad is a major convenience but nevertheless, it has not fundamentally changed how he flies because he still file flight plans the same way, he still uses the panel GPS for navigation, he still has the same personal minimums and he still flies the same type of trips. Hence, John concluded that the iPad is a revolutionary aviation tool but only on cost and convenience rather than on features.