The iPad is taking not only the consumer world by storm but has found its way into cockpits big time. I blogged last spring as the devices began to show up “Glass Cockpits – Easy to be Hard?“, and there was a recent segment on AOPA Live during the Long Beach Summit “Cockpit Revolution: Apple iPad”, and in the most recent issue of AOPA Pilot, Avionics Overkill?. Predictably, there’s massive enthusiasm on the device with a super slick interface that some of the mainstream avionics manufacturers may be lusting over.
But remember, this is aviation and many of us are conservative. (Not a political commentary so cool your jets). We like to be sure something really works and supplemental applications are one thing – core navigation is something else.
There have been several reports recently through NASA’s Aviation Reporting System (ASRS) that indicate that the GPS navigation and geo-referencing function on the iPad may not be quite up to aviation standards. Environmental factors may also be a problem. There are multiple apps and hardware is being added constantly so it’s possible that with an external antenna and the right application the “pad” would work just fine for VFR flight. Not quite sure how we adjust cockpit temperatures to keep the hardware comfy, let alone the occupants.
Report 1 – ASRS Analysis : A VFR pilot reported using an iPad to navigate in the LAX area’s complex airspace and possibly entered Class C and Class D airspace.
Pilot Analysis “I simply placed too much trust in the iPad’s moving map information and didn’t use pilotage often enough to verify its accuracy. While it appeared that I had a reasonable displacement from Class C and D airspace boundaries using the map’s medium range scale, this might not have been the case.”
Report 2 – ASRS Analysis : An iPad personal electronic device, not inflight certified, was used for VFR navigation and about two hours into the flight at 10,500 FT overheated and shutdown.
Pilot’s comment: “During cruise approximately two hours into the flight, the iPad displayed a notice indicating that it had overheated, and shut down within about five seconds. I had paper charts available and used them to continue the flight, though it took a couple of minutes to find the correct position on the chart and fold it appropriately. Had this happened during a complicated instrument approach, especially without paper charts both available, safety could have been impacted.”
Report 3: ASRS Analysis – A pilot reported entering the DC Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) as he was attempting to avoid a warning area but did not have either his GPS or area charts to track his location and stay clear of the SFRA.
Pilot’s comments: “I just started using the iPad for my charts (iCharts, flight prep), I had the updated version of the Baltimore/Washington Terminal Chart up. As I made the turn from 2W6 waypoint I realized I did not have a waypoint in to go around the restricted 6611A and 6613A zone. I had the iPad terminal map zoomed in to look at the 6611A zone and saw the SFRA ring but with it zoomed in; I thought I was looking at the speed restriction zone. At that point I deviated to the north to avoid the R-6611A zone not realizing that I was flying into the SFRA. I went just north of that zone and once clear I navigated direct to my destination. I did not realize that I had flown into the SFRA until I landed. The FBO told me to contact Potomac TRACON.”
This is not intended as a “bash” but rather a caveat that the limitations of the tools we use must be considered. New tools are both inviting and offer the greatest potential for mishap since not many of us have learned the hard way.
This is offered for our collective consideration and thanks to these pilots who reported their difficulties. Y’all be careful and let us know what you’re learning.