Wednesday, August 31, 2011




My last column for Plane and Pilot News was on the flying with the IPad with Foreflight and WingXPro. I have flown with both extensively this summer and would like to provide an update. It’s been very hot everywhere except on the West Coast, and that is where I have spent most of my summer. It has been 115 in Scottsdale and lows in the 90’s with numerous dust storms. I picked a good summer to leave town. We traveled to Colorado Springs, Laguna Beach, Palo Alto and several trips to San Diego to avoid the heat. I also flew the airlines to Atlanta to celebrate my Mother’s 90th birthday. We were lucky to have good weather in Atlanta.

After many experiments I found the best place to mount the IPad was on the yoke arm of my Bonanza. I mounted my 396 on the yoke. By placing the IPad on the yoke arm I have a good view of the IPad in my scan flying both VFR and IFR. I do not like to keep my eyes down when flying VFR and can quickly check the IPad while continuing to look outside the cockpit.

I have 2 APPS to fly with on the IPad, Foreflight and WingXPro7. They both offer many of the same things but WingXpro offers more. Flight planning is easy on both. WingX offers better weather information with a plain English weather briefing. They both supply TFR’s, Foreflight under the notams and WingX under TFR’s, but with WingX TFR’s are also displayed on the charts. If one needs more information on a TFR on WingX, just press the TFR red circle and all the information pops up in flight. WingX also offers static weather on their charts.

The charts, both VFR and IFR, have been enhanced on WingX and are more readable than Foreflight. Having been rerouted numerous times in the Los Angeles basin this is much appreciated. When being rerouted by ATC I just push the next waypoint(s) on either program and add it to my flight plan.

WingX has an option to show terrain on the charts. It shows yellow when you are within 1000 feet of a conflict and red when you aren't going to clear the next obstacle. Foreflight does not have terrain avoidance.

Another major feature of WingX is the split screen. I can have my taxiway diagram with geo referencing on one side and the scratch pad with the ATIS on the other side. Flying enroute I use one screen. When I am arriving at an airport I have the enroute chart on one screen and the approach on the other. When I see the airplane icon on the approach plate I just switch to full screen to the approach. With Foreflight I have to leave the enroute page and load up the approach waiting for the icon to show on my approach plate.

Both programs now can tether to weather in route, although each went in different directions. Foreflight uses the Baron to receive XM weather. A subscription to XM is required and the 396/496 will not work with the Baron. One has to also buy a XM weather receiver that will plug into the Baron. The Baron cost $199, and I don’t know how much a XM unit cost. WingX uses SkyRadar ADS-B in to show ADS-B weather. This is also very expensive as the SkyRadar unit cost $1500. There isn’t a subscription fee for ADS-B but it doesn’t show as many wether features as XM. I use my 396 for XM weather.

Foreflight was the originator of IPad APP for flying but they have let WingX leave them in the dust. When I bought Foreflight, WingX didn’t even have sectional charts. They do now and much more information than Foreflight. Cost for Foreflight is $150 a year and WingXPro is $175 a year including geo referenced approach plates on both. I thought at renewal that I wouldn’t buy the geo referenced approaches again but have changed my mind. This is a great situational awareness feature that I don’t want to be without. On my last flight I was rerouted and the approach changed. I haven’t flown a full IFR approach in years and am vectored to pick up the approach. With geo referencing I can see exactly where I am.

WingX has also introduced synthetic vision for $99 a year. I wasn’t impressed with their demo. If one flies the approach correctly in IMC this should not be needed. It’s another safety factor but too expensive for the type of flying I do. I will have to see this in person to make a better decision. I hope that WingX will be at NBAA in Las Vegas this October so I can make a more informed decision.

In summary WingX is a MUCH better product. They have jumped to the forefront and never looked back. I have not encountered any problems with the IPad concerning heat or altitude. I have landed in 112 degree temperature and flown at 13,000 feet. The key is to keep direct sunlight off the IPad or it will shut down. Also I recommend buying an external WASS GPS. With the IPad built in GPS you can loose signal and it is not as accurate as an external GPS. I fly with the Bad Elf, $99, as I do not want a bluetooth GPS that had to be recharged. I also recommend carrying paper print outs of approach plates for your destination and alternate along with paper charts for back up.

I feel that the IPad and aviation APPS available are the greatest enhancement to flight safety since the invention of GPS.

I submitted this column to Plane and Pilot News, but they would not run it as they are negotiating with Foreflight for advertising for their paper. This is the conundrum for Aviation Publications. If you make your vendor mad they will pull their advertising which helps pay for the publication.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FAA drinking the KOOLAID again. No Common sense.

Government Advocacy

FAA Drinking the KOOL AID agian. Absolutely no common sense whatsoever.

AOPA, NBAA formally file court brief to preserve BARR

AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) filed their opening brief in court Aug. 29 to challenge the government's decision to severely limit the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program.

In their briefing, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the associations argue that the FAA’s revisions to the BARR program are unlawful and should be invalidated.

“The FAA has failed to explain why it reversed its long-standing policy recognizing that very real concerns about safety, security and competitiveness justify giving aircraft owners and operators a way to 'opt-out' of having their flights tracked by anyone, anywhere in the world with an Internet connection,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “This reality has been pointed out in the overwhelming opposition to the government's plans for the BARR. The government ignored these concerns, but we believe the court will not be so dismissive.”

AOPA President Craig Fuller added, “We want the court to understand that this issue should alarm anyone who supports basic privacy protections, whether or not they ever get on an airplane. After all, just because the government collects information doesn't mean it should be broadcast over the Internet for viewing by electronic stalkers, the paparazzi, or a businessperson's competitors. We are confident the court will find the FAA’s unprecedented new policy to defy both law and common sense.”

The decade-old, congressionally enabled BARR program provides operators of private aircraft the ability to opt out of having their aviation movements tracked. However, earlier this year, government officials announced plans to severely limit the program only to aircraft owners and operators who can verify a “valid security concern.”

In June, NBAA and AOPA announced that they would challenge the government's plan in court, and the Experimental Aircraft Association filed a friend of the court brief supporting the suit.

The government's plan to curtail the BARR program went into effect on August 2.

The FAA has until Sept. 28 to file a brief in response to the legal filing from NBAA and AOPA. The two associations will then have an opportunity to file a final brief on Oct. 12. The Court of Appeals will hear arguments shortly thereafter.

August 29, 2011

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Monday, August 29, 2011

The words FAA and common sense do not go together!

FAA: Own-ship Position Display on iPads Is a Problem

The FAA does not want pilots to use Apple’s iPad tablet computer for navigation. Yet pilots are using the iPad and the many moving-map applications available for the device to navigate and view approach plates, Sids and Stars, en route and sectional charts, aircraft documents and a lot more. While the FAA is sanctioning uses of the iPad not involving navigation, the rapid proliferation of the iPad into the ranks of corporate and light aircraft pilots has been nothing less than stunning. And that means that pilots are using the iPad to navigate, whether or not the FAA approves.

The FAA is clear in its opposition to display of own-ship position (geo-referencing) on the iPad and other devices that qualify as Class 1 electronic flight bags (EFBs). In fact, as iPad apps with moving-maps have proliferated, some now offer the ability to turn off the own-ship display. This seems more like a sop to the FAA’s desire that pilots use only certified avionics for navigation; after all, what pilot is going to turn that feature off unless there is an FAA inspector looking over his or her shoulder?

The FAA’s opinion on own-ship display on Class 1 EFBs is expressed in draft advisory circular 120-76B. “Own-ship position is not authorized for display or used for any application, for navigation or otherwise, on a Class 1 or Class 2 EFB in flight. Do not use this AC by itself to add own-ship position on moving maps on Class 1 and Class 2 EFBs.” The FAA is more willing to allow own-ship display on Class 2 EFBs for ground operations, but refers those interested to AC 20-159, which outlines procedures for design and production approval.

The recently released Mobile FliteDeck iPad app exhibits Jeppesen’s first approach to display of own-ship position on the iPad. Jeppesen’s first iPad app–Mobile TC–was for display of terminal charts only, but Mobile FliteDeck is a full Jeppesen Airway Manual, with worldwide terminal charts as well as en route charts and Airway Manual data for all world regions. Jeppesen has implemented own-ship position, but only for en route charts and airport taxi diagrams, not for approach plates. Jeppesen plans to add approach chart own-ship position in the near future. Mobile FliteDeck is free if users already have a Jeppesen subscription for avionics and remaining unused product keys.

Real-world iPad Use

Corporate pilot Stoney Truett uses an iPad for chart display. Because his company has been flying mostly in the U.S., he canceled the subscription to Jeppesen charts and bought two iPads, one for each company pilot. “We were paying $6,000 for the Jeppesen services,” he said. In the first year of using the iPad, including the cost of the iPads and the WingX app by Hilton Software, he said, “we saved over $4,000.”

Truett also uses the iPad when teaching student pilots, and he wanted to find out the FAA’s view on using the iPad to teach navigation tracking in airplanes not equipped with a VOR receiver. In researching the subject, Truett read FAA Information for Operators bulletin 11011, which outlines guidance used by Part 135 and 121 operators to seek approval for use of iPads as Class 1 EFBs as chart and document display devices in the cockpit. No such approval is required for Part 91 operators.

Truett contacted the FAA about InFO 11011 and wasn’t encouraged by the response. “I can tell you what the FAA’s position is on the iPad [for navigation],” Truett said. ‘No way!’” Truett added that the FAA’s attitude is that it will never allow use of iPads or other uncertified devices like handheld GPS units for primary navigation. And to bolster that position, he was briefed about a series of negative reports about iPads to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System database as justification of the FAA’s position.

AIN reviewed 12 reports in the ASRS database containing the word “iPad” and 65 reports containing “handheld+GPS.” The majority of the iPad reports are for navigation errors while pilots were trying to figure out how to use their devices. Many of the “handheld+GPS” reports cite how these devices help prevent a lot of possibly serious situations when aircraft instruments or systems failed. “You have to practice [using the iPad],” Truett pointed out.

“My preference would be to see the FAA allow own-ship positioning as a reference, not [as] primary navigation,” he said. “[It is] just trying to keep you from using it as primary because [it doesn’t] have control over it. As far as own-ship positioning on the iPad, I’ll never turn it off. I’ve flown a dozen different aircraft types with the iPad to see how well it works in different situations. I have found it to be consistently stable, simple, easy to use and very, very safe. I think the iPad is as significant and important as Loran and GPS were when they came into the aviation world. Even if you turn own-ship off, you have all the charts you need in an eight- by ten-size device that’s simple and easy to assess. [But] own-ship position display is a huge enhancement in safety and situational awareness.”

Examples of accidents where more situational awareness could have helped abound. In many of these accidents, the aircraft equipment was not capable of own-ship display on approach charts, so an iPad could have helped.

On July 13, 2009, the pilots flying a Gulfstream IV-SP became confused about their position after a windshield cracked during takeoff from Kerry Airport in the UK. While trying to return to land via the ILS approach to Runway 26, the crew mistakenly followed a false localizer indication and began descending well away from the airport, to within 702 feet of the ground. After an alert radar controller at Shannon Center warned the tower controller that the GIV was low and well away from the localizer course, the pilots were instructed to climb immediately and subsequently landed safely.

There are other accidents, especially those involving controlled flight into terrain, such as the GIII that crashed during an instrument approach into Hobby Airport in Houston on Nov. 22, 2004. The GIII crashed away from the airport, after the pilots followed what they thought was the glideslope indicator but instead was the angle-of-attack indicator. That, of course, was well before iPads were developed and before most handheld GPS units with moving maps offered own-ship display on approach charts.


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