Ian Twombly

UPDATE: iOS5 update troubles

November 17, 2011 by Ian J. Twombly, Associate Editor


Apple released iOS 5.0.1 a few days ago that apparently fixes the delete issue. According to ForeFlight, some app development may also be required, and they are working on that now. For more, check out the company’s blog. If you’ve updated to iOS 5.0.1 and are using a different aviation application, let us know in the comments section how it is working.

iPad and other Apple device users should take note of a rather odd quirk that can occur after updating the operating system to iOS5. According to multiple application developers, the operating system could delete data, including charts and approach plates, if certain conditions are present.

Essentially the device senses the memory is full, or almost full, and will delete previously saved data if new data is brought in. So, the operating system will now favor new data, instead of rejecting it to preserve old data. For those running ForeFlight, WingX, or any of the other large multipurpose apps, you could lose charting data by bringing in any other additional pieces of data. What’s worse, the device will do this with only a minor indication of what’s happening. A small message that says, “Cleaning” will appear under any app that is currently losing data.

To keep this from happening, simply make sure you have extra space on the device. Most of the multipurpose charting apps run around 7 GB, while Jeppesen’s charting app is around 1 GB. The problem comes from having either multiple aviation apps, or having the device loaded with other big programs.

This issue brings to light an important consideration in using the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch for aviation. Make sure to preflight the apps. After you have downloaded the data you want to use on the flight, disable Wifi and 3G, and open your app. Then scroll through the charts and airport data to make sure you have everything you need. This way you’ll know that what you have actually resides on the device, and that you’re not just streaming it off Wifi. Also, each app should have a list of downloaded charts. Check the list for an additional source of confirmation.

For more information, ForeFlight has a good update on the problem, as does WingX and Readerplates.

Let us know in the comments section if you’ve experienced this problem, or if you have any iOS5 reviews.

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40 Responses to “UPDATE: iOS5 update troubles”

  1. Thom Reilly Says:

    I have an ipad 2 with 64GB. I have ForeFlight, WingX and many other programs. I’m only using 9.8 GB with 48.3 GB available. I have some music, but not much–this uses a lot of space.

  2. Chris Rescate Says:

    I’m a new pilot and I really enjoy using the IPad with WingX in my 35yr old rental. Thanks for providing the idea for how to preflight the Ipad.

  3. Hank Says:

    Sounds like another reason to avoid the iPad. The only way to get into or out of it is through iTunes, which makes it useless on my job [the site is blocked by Global IT], and now it is going to randomly delete things that are already there, some of which I have to pay to obtain?

    No thank you, Mr. Successor-to-Steve-Jobs, whoever you are.

    Make your device user friendly, and especially not one that will destroy already saved data, and I’ll think about it.

  4. Jon Carlson Says:

    I have an iPad2 with 32GB. I have ForeFlight and JeppFD. When I updated to iOS5, I had 10.1 GB free space remaining. ForeFlight lost all data, and JeppFD lost the Manual data.

  5. Greg Daughtry Says:

    Hank – sounds like you don’t need reasons to avoid the iPad – you have plenty on your own. But just to correct misconceptions – with IOS5 – the iPads now are completely free of iTunes linked to a pc. You do need an apple id of course, but the thing is completely configurable wirelessly over 3g or other wifi connections. Have fun in the stone age! ;-p

    I updated to ios5 and had to re-download, which took all of about 10 minutes. I have both wingx, and foreflight with seattle avionics chart data. It’s still a butt-load better than any other comparable products out there – so knowing it’s limitations is akin to knowing that radar returns don’t tell you where the clouds are.


  6. Michael Lloyd Says:

    Herein lies the basic problem of using consumer devices in the cockpit; they’re not built for mission critical applications. Pretty colors and hi res screens are great until they go tango uniform when you’re IMC and you no kidding need the information now. I have a lot of Apple hardware, but in the cockpit I’ll take a bulletproof but prosaic system over a slick app on a consumer device anytime.

  7. v moorefield Says:

    i did my u.s. primary, ifr, and most of my commercial pilot training on a c172 g1000. “spoiled” is the applicable term, i realize now that i’ve moved to switzerland. flying here is 2-3 times as expensive as it is in the states.
    one private pilot j.a.r. check ride in a foreign country later, which took place on a sixpack pa-28 in low vis., around and just under the clouds, & with compass and paper chart only, i have come to appreciate the value of the ipad (i passed, but there was a good deal of intelligent guessing involved).
    i don’t rely solely on the ipad, but it’s a great crosscheck. i lose the gps signal now and then in the mountains, and once it stopped functioning due to overheating in a diamond dv-20 (too much sun). still, the price is right, and thanks for the os 5 caution! happy flying.

  8. James Robins Says:

    Fore Flight’s very recent update corrected this problem immediately on my iPad 1. However, I’ve had pilot pals with iPhones who lost all their contacts. I’m not going near IOS5 until Apple fesses up with a better IOS5, but I feel sorry for the poor guy that “hates” iPads. Must be Rumplestiltskin’s great-great-great grand nephew. Through two legs of awful weather yesterday – KHPN-KPIT-KMDW, my Fore Flight on iPad was a blessing as I was given Q-Ways, J-Ways and 3 route amendments. It made following the waypoints in real time and doing my mandatory VOR checks a walk in the park.
    Jim Robins

  9. Burt Says:

    I have both Foreflight and Wingx, and an iPad 2 64G with plenty of leftover space (40+G). After upgrading to io5, I had to redownload all data for both apps. HOWEVER, here is my real concern: WingX takes but maybe an hour or less to download all of the USA charts (sec, Lo alt, and airports). Foreflight on the other hand takes 8+ hours. Why?

  10. Reddoch Williams Says:

    I updated to iOS 5 yesterday, and lost my just downloaded data to sky charts pro. I have used less than 25 per cent of my available memory – so the problem was not caused by lack of memory.
    Took 6 hours to re-download all my data
    I wish I knew how to go back to the old operating system.
    Whay a foul up. Now I can’t trust my iPad – gotta be sure to keep paper charts in the 210

  11. Aaron Says:

    Im sure it will be a small issue to be resolved soon…..
    Am I an “apple fanboy”? Yes I am, because their products and the aviation software designed for them are elegant and simple. If this were a PC/Microsoft product, a small hiccup like this would be “business as usual” and not even be report worthy.
    For those of you not willing to try the iPad for aviation, you are simply missing out (and wasting your money on older methods of charting). As the programs become even better, which they do on a monthly basis, you’ll simply be left behind.
    Yes, it’s that good in my opinion……

  12. Brian Dekle Says:

    How appropriate, Just found out about the problem yesterday evening while flying home from Melbourne, FL. I had updated my iPad 2 recently and did not double-check before lift-off that my data bases were up to date. It was VFR weather but I always pull out my iPad and the Dual GPS module (The Dual GPS is simply the best), to check them out. Low and behold, the update had wiped out all my data bases, and I mean all of them. I wish I would have gotten this email yesterday instead of today!

  13. John McNerney Says:

    Here’s hoping Apple updates the OS with a way to “lock” selected important data to prevent deletion.

  14. Rae Willis Says:

    I have an iPad2 with 64 GB, WIFI only. IOS5 deleted all ForeFlight downloads. ForeFlight v 4.2.2 informed me that charts were not saved. I reloaded. No big deal.ForeFlight 4.2.2 is a big deal though. Great upgrade!

  15. Justin Says:

    The article is not talking about losing data WHEN you update to iOS5, they are talking about other programs pushing your saved data out LATER. For the iPad users that didn’t understand this point, please have some kind of backup in the cockpit, paper charts and plates perhaps.

    IMO, the problem is that Apple made a device that the user does not need to know how works, moreover, they made this device so it is very difficult to learn how it works even if you wanted to.

  16. Pete Says:

    It looks to me as if the little twerps at Apple deceided to use the “Barbie” marketing strategy: That is… You bought Barbie, now you need her shoes, her socks, her Thunderbird, etc…. When I installed iOS5, the twerps tried to force me into the cloud (Not the IMC one). The whole purpose of iOS5 is to raise revenue by sending data into the cloud at some dollars per gigabyte. Why else would there be an automatic uncontrolable exodus of data?

    I can see the use for cloud storage, but Apple was a little too agressive in its push…

  17. Mike Walsh Says:

    Let’s be honest. For the money and what it is the iPad can’t be beat.
    Just wait until the screen gets better in bright light.
    The upgrade to IOS5 was worth it. No big deal to reload although a heads up would have been nice. How much are Garmin updates?

  18. Barry Says:

    I’m in complete agreement with Greg Daughtry … Hank, you’re setting yourself up for stoneage living!
    I just completed a flight from Alpine, TX to San Antonio, TX. I had a panel-mounted Garmin GPS, a portable Garmin GPS plugged into the aircraft power supply and an iPad running ForeFlight … not attached to any external power supply.
    When my alternator died, my panel mounted Garmin GPS died immediatly. 5 mins later my ‘portable’ Garmin GPS, that was no longer receiving a charge from aircraft battery gave me a ‘low battery’ warning.
    But guess what provided me with continuing navigation information, for the next 1.5 hours, ALL the way home without any external power assistance? That’s right, Hank … my iPad!!
    Does that sound like ‘another reason to avoid the iPad, Hank??

  19. Bailey Fleming Says:

    I see nothing but upsides to the iPad. Yes it has a few kinks but you can fix those. I think preflighting it is a great idea. We practice things failing all our career but one thing we haven’t practiced is for chart failure. So I can see where some people are coming from. It’s one of those things that more people (non pilots) will complain about and apple will fix it.

  20. Gary McAnally Says:

    Gee Michael, I’ve been waiting for years for what you already have. A bulletproof system. Please tell us all what that is, I’d love to have one !

  21. Gary McAnally Says:

    Gee Michael, you’ve got something I’ve been looking for my whole aviation career. A bulletproof system. Please tell us all what that is, I’d love to have one!!!!!!!!!

  22. Tom McGonegal PhD, CFII Says:

    Wish I had more info on the iPad 2 +3 as I bought one with only 16GB (on Sun 10-23-11) I would have bought 32GB as an knowekedgeable pilot friend hadrecommended.

    Still I hope Apple comes up with a “fix” very soon. I am running Foreflight 30 day trial now and might reconsider iPad use in the cockpit.

    BestBuy sells an “invisible SHIELD” with a no glare option for $39.99+tax which I hope willeduce the glare in bright light.

    Is the iPad 2 +3G upgradable

  23. JoshA Says:

    I am not a commercial or IFR pilot yet(only about 250 hours), and I am not a geek, but apple is SO simple and dependable compared to paper and a 430 it’s not even funny. What took hours to learn I learned in 5 minutes on an I pad and no confused scrambling for important data while in the cockpit. Simply put your finger on the moving chart. No question that iPhone and iPad makes a wonderful REDUNDANCY compliment to the cockpit for those with an open mind and a desire for something better.

    I have not YET updated to iOS5, but it looks like the improvements will be nice. Don’t like that I have to watch my memory though. What if I forget?(silly pun:)

  24. Russ Bird Says:

    Ever since I upgraded to IO5 my iPad it shuts down my Jep Hd program and Foreflight Other apps are reacting the same way. After I launch the app and after about 3 minutes the app completely shuts down. Are there anyone else having this problem? Thank you

  25. Rich Says:

    I am a Commercial pilot, flying several King Airs for their respective owners, all under Part 91. I stopped carrying paper charts aboard the aircraft months ago. Foreflight and the iPad are an unbelievably powerful resource in the cockpit.

    However, having said that, I will NOT be upgrading the OS to IO5 just yet. This is a classic case of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The current iPad OS and the recent Foreflight upgrade work just fine, thank you.

    I’ll wait for Apple to come out with something more sensible than an OS “upgrade” that randomly deletes anything it thinks is no longer needed.

  26. Dan Lane Says:

    As a side issue to upgrading to IOS5: if the computer you are using for the upgrade is a PC running Windows XP, then you are going to lose files, like pictures, contacts, and calendar. It will all go up to the iCloud, but it won’t be on your iPad when the upgrade is complete. There is a way of restoring it, and the Apple tech support can walk you through it. Apple IOS5 is not compatible with XP. So if your computer is running XP, borrow one running Vista or Windows 7.

  27. Steve Says:

    Much of the problems I have read here may actually come from not reading all of the information prior to updating to IO5. Here is some info from apple that may help solve a lot of the problems. The update itself takes a lot of time. Then your previously saved data must be re-saved onto the device, taking a lot more time.

    1. Completing your backup may take some time, depending on the amount of content on your iOS device.

    2. If you are updating your iOS device on a computer with which you do not normally sync , or if you disconnect your device before the sync process is complete, you may notice that some media content that was previously on your device is no longer there. You can restore this content by syncing with the Mac or PC with which you normally sync.

    3. Movie rentals purchased directly from your device will not get transferred to your computer when you sync and transfer your purchases.

  28. Bob Says:

    Took out my WingX data, and I was only using about 7gb on a 64gb iPad.

  29. Dennis Says:

    Call me paranoid, but I fly a 63 piper cherokee and I have in my cockpit two iPads, one handheld aviation gps and a gps from 10 years ago that I have to type in way points – oh yes, I have the iPhone. With Forflight on the phone and one iPad and wingxpro on the other iPad…. On top of that I fly VOR to VOR using my antiquated VOR.

    Redundancy should be always in your mind when flying. I have more computing power in my old bird than the astronauts took to the moon. maybe I’ve overdone it some, but this entire package is less than a glass panel and provides more redundancy… I even carry a small “starter” battery which I can run all the devices if necessary!

  30. MERV Says:


  31. George Says:

    I recently uploaded i0S5 and lost all of my emails and deleted emails as well as all of my Foreflight data. Additionally I frequently have to reboot the system to even make an outgoing call. This is a flawed system and one should be very careful in deciding to access it. I wish I had not. The old system worked fine. I had similar problems with my IPad 2. Getting access to the ICloud is not worth the lost data.

  32. Matt Says:

    I didn’t have any issues with the iOS 5 update; as for the comments about avoiding the iPad, this issue only occurs for applications that store data in the caches directory. Developers were depending on a behavior (the OS wasn’t regularly clearing out the cache data) as opposed to storing things perpetually in the application’s documents container.

    As for those of you that lost cached data on an OS update, the same thing applies. Cache folders (like a TMP directory) aren’t considered that important by the OS (any OS.) So when the device is updated, the directory is wiped.

    I agree, there should be a better solution, and it’s being worked on, but to suggest this is some sort of flaw is a bit of an overstatement.

  33. Danny Says:

    I have been flying with an iPad 1 for over one year without an issue. When I decided to update to OSX Lion and IOS 5, I made the precautionary move to phone Apple Support directly. I used the following methodology and successfully updated my iPad to IOS 5 without losing any data:

    1) Sync you iPad in iTunes before updating. DO NOT allow iTunes to update your iPad.
    2) After syncing, Command click on your device in the left-hand column & a menu will pop up.
    3) Back up your iPad to your computer from the pop up menu.
    4) After backing-up, click in the center of the screen for Updates. IOS 5 will load on you iPad.
    5) After loading, go through the menus on your iPad, which pertains to iCloud, etc.
    6) After going through the menus in IOS 5, re-sync your iPad by Command clicking on your device (as above) and choosing to restore from Backup.

    As a precaution, before starting this procedure I backed-up my iPad and iPhone, then my Mac to an external hard drive. I backup every week, and it paid dividends when someone spilled a drink on my keyboard some time ago, frying my computer.

  34. Richard Says:

    Re the comment: “Apple IOS5 is not compatible with XP” I am running XP and have had no trouble after upgrading to iOS5.

  35. David Bry Says:

    Apple is addressing this issue (and a few others) with an update that is in testing now:


    Could be 2 or 3 weeks before it is available to the public.

  36. Bill Woody Says:

    If you installed ios5, then you have the cloud. All of your pictures, music, magazines, movies, books, newspapers etc., are pushed into the cloud, and not stored on the iPad, thus not using any memory space.. Your apps are on your iPad, but take up very little memory. I have five screens of apps, most dealing with flying (including current FAR/AIM) or engineering, my profession. I still have over 42GB of memory remaining. The possibility of loosing data from WingX or Foreflight because of memory load is so extremely miniscule that I am surprised that this subject is even being discussed.

    The iPad is the best product ever made available to pilots, at an extremely low initial cost, compared to those similar products design for aviation use, which are easily five or six times the price of the iPad. Further the iPad provides online services for duats, etc, and the annual subscription is so much less that Jepp it is unbelievable. If you have a fast modem the update downloads only take a few minutes. Why any serious pilot does not take advantage of this powerful tool as a back up GPS navigator, storage of Approach, STAR and DP procedures and flight planner, is beyond me.

  37. Fred Corporal Says:

    I recently downloaded IOS 5.01 on my Iphone 4 and on my Ipad2 and had absolutely no problems of disapearing maps out of my nav system (AeroNav which is European). But now I have to fill that bookcase!

  38. Bruce McGregor Says:

    From the developer:

    Both PilotFAR and PilotAIM have compatibility issues with iOS5, and for this reason we pulled these apps from the App Store in October. We recently submitted a PilotFAR update to Apple and hope it will be released this week. PilotAIM will be close behind.

  39. Jan Melkebeek Says:

    I think the problems with IOS5 are not (necessarily) linked with memory problems. My iPad has plenty of memory. Yet Jeppesen TC lost all the data after upgrading to IOS5 (and there was plenty of memory left). But Jeppesen FD still worked fine. There were also other apps that did not work any more with IOS5.
    After I upgraded to IOS5.01 all problems disappeared. So I recommend those with IOS5 to upgrade as soon as possible to IOS5.01 .
    (note: my PC has Windows XP and this did not cause any problems with the upgrade of the iPad2).

    In my view, the iPad is a quite nice thing. When you compare price/performance to ‘aviation specific’ gear, the iPad is a winner, no doubt.
    I still will carry paper approach plates for departure, destination and one alternate field (as well as the en route charts) but I can now avoid the weight of paper charts for other IFR fields on my routing.

    The only disadvantage (to me, as an engineer) is that one cannot access the data structure of the iPad (as is possible with Windows based things). But on the other hand, you will not have to reboot it 4 or 5 times after an automatic upgrade (like my PC running Windows XP ).

  40. JOE Says:

    I find the same thing, Takes up alot of room on my ipad + Iphone 4s

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