Why pilots should not upgrade their iPad or iPhone electronic flight bag

John Ewing has recently written a lengthy post for his Aviation Mentor blog about Apple’s latest and problematic updates to their iPhones, iPads and Macs (MacOS). Moreover, he noted that at least one of these problems is a BIG problem for pilots who use an iPad as an electronic flight bag. 

Specifically, the five unintended consequences of the latest Apple’s design changes noted by John included the following:

    1. Data going missed
    2. Multi-tasking Gestures, for some
    3. iCloud just ain’t there … yet
    4. Mail, Contacts, and Calendar issues
    5. Security Issues

By far the biggest concern for pilots should be John’s reason #1. Specifically, John had advised pilots on a budget to buy an iPad with less memory as 16GBs seemed fine to him. However, iPad has a new WiFi syncing feature and Apps that need to store a significant amount of data (e.g. aviation charts) must now store this data in a user cache – which automatically gets cleaned out whenever the device starts to run low on space. This means that you may not be able to find the right approach charts just when you need to find the right approach charts.

Apparently, Apple is assuming that iPad users will always have access to super high-speed Internet – meaning they assume that everyone using an Apple iPad will be using one in the Bay Area or another big urban area rather than someplace like a rural area with slower Internet or a few thousand meters in the sky where there is unlikely to be any Internet at all.

Hence, John wrote that this cleaning feature needs to be undone or at least some kind of setting provided to override the cleaning or apps should be allowed to store a their offline data.

Near the end of his post, John summed up his thoughts about Apple by commenting that as a company becomes more and more successful, there is a tendency for quality to erode (or maybe its because Steve Jobs is no longer around to insure quality). He then added:

I don’t know if it’s the mania for continued growth, the thirst for more income streams, the influx of marketeers and bean-counters, or just the sheer number of user, but Apple’s image appears to this long-time customer as being more than a bit tarnished.

In other words and if you use an iPad or an iPhone as an electronic flight bag or intend to use one, read John’s post as well as do your own due diligence with other pilots who are actively using the latest Apple products to find out any limitations or problems they are experiencing.


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4 Responses to Why pilots should not upgrade their iPad or iPhone electronic flight bag

  1. Brad November 16, 2011 at 11:59 #

    You do realize that the data-purge issue was resolved in iOS 5.0.1, right?

  2. Kevin November 17, 2011 at 02:12 #

    The latest IOS 5.0.1 update includes a new feature to address the issue John described about cached data being purged. Developers can now store offline data in an area that won't be purged andn also won't create a huge backup.

  3. Angel December 19, 2011 at 14:31 #

    I do need a little assistance…I am looking to purchase the IPad2 for my husband and wondering your thoughts on data packages vs. Bad Elf or Dual Electronics. What are your thoughts? I've read many conflicting posts, some stating you need it and some not. Thanks


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