I have had my smart phone for about a year, and I have been amazed how many things it has replaced: alarm clock, calculator, mp3 player, and laptop computer (to a large degree) just to name a few. That’s why I was not surprised to see mobile technology making its way into private aviation. A quick glance at the popular catalogues is evidence as to how deep mobile had penetrated flying.
iPad apps from all the major private aviation suppliers have been released that virtually replace paper charts in the cockpit including high and low altitude airway charts, visual terrain charts, and even airport diagrams and approach plates. These apps can even be used to plot and track your course before and during flight. There are also apps for performing common aviation calculations such as weight and balance, and fuel consumption rates. Other apps double as digital log books where pilots can tracks flying hours and destinations. Before you even complete a certification, your mobile device can now be used as a great training tool. A myriad of test preparation and review apps have been released, as well as special interest training apps covering topics such as aviation weather, and proper communication procedures.
While it may be many years before the FAA formally accepts mobile apps as complete replacements for traditional paper charts, and navigational aids, it is clear mobile has already made a big impact in private aviation. Any tool that can help a pilot make a decision faster and with more certainty is a valuable tool in the cockpit.