Wednesday, August 15, 2012




I personally feel that the best invention for aviation was the advent of GPS in the cockpit. The second best invention is the IPad in coordination with navigational APPS such as ForeFight and WingXPro7.

As you know from my previous columns I have been a proponent of WingX over ForeFlight, that is until now. When I bought my IPad 1, I had to make a decision ForeFlight or WingX. ForeFlight (FF) had much more to offer, and it was no contest. I signed up with FF for a year and was extremely happy. I never had a glitch and new features were being added during my subscription. WingX was way behind in features and not worth purchasing. Then something happened. WingX made dramatic improvements in it’s product and blew by FF. 

At the expiration of my FF subscription I decided to buy WingX. WingX now had both VFR and IFR enroute charts and also added a split screen. This allowed me to have both the enroute chart up along with Seattle Avionics Approach plate. I could see my plane on the chart and where ATC was vectoring me, as I rarely get the full approach from ATC on my travels. With FF I had to switch the page between the chart and the approach. This is not efficient.

Through this year WingX has added many features including altitude above the ground, timer, distance from a waypoint and most importantly track up. To this day the features of WingX outperform FF. 

FF has continued to stress quality over quantity making sure that everything works properly before updating their product. This is why the FAA is allowing FF to be used in airliners and charters as an approved Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). FF quality reigns supreme. WingX has taken a different tact introducing new features and not making corrections of it’s existing defects until being contacted on numerous occasions. WingX is not an FAA approved APP for an EFB. You would think that WingX would monitor it’s product and have a way of knowing if there are any defects.

I have now encountered 3 problems with WingX in the last several months that have affected safety of flight. 

1: When the IPad 3 was introduced WingX did not work properly for approximately a month. It worked fine on the IPad 1 and 2. The charts were way off showing airports and other waypoints in 2 different areas on the charts and the charts were not seamless. WingX offered  a free second year subscription for anyone who owned an IPad 3.

2: I like to start planing my flights a week before leaving. On preparing for a trip to Santa Monica (SMO) I found that the weather would not update, and that I could not do any flight planning. I emailed WingX and notified them of the problem, and they had it corrected in 2 days. If I was making the trip the next day I was totally out of luck and would have to rely on my Garmin 396. I still use my 396 for things that neither FF or WingX will do.

3: This week I am planning a trip to San Diego (MYF), and I also review my return to Scottsdale (SDL). To my amazement  the approach plates for SDL would not load, and the screen on WingX started shaking to where I had to reboot it. I contacted WingX and they stated they had found a bug in the program. They also stated they would supply a fix on the next update later in August. I find this totally unacceptable. If they have a fix send it out NOW!

The IPad along with my 396 are my lifelines when I’m flying. If I can’t have faith in what I’m using then it is not what I want to be flying with. I’m also in a quandary because I bought Sky Radar ADS-B IN which only works with WingX or Sky Radar which is not a very good APP.

In a recent article by Sporty’s, Sporty’s compared FF, WingX and Garmin APPS for the IPad. FF came out number 1, Garmin 2, and WingX last. This comparison can be deceiving as Sporty’s is tied into FF and Stratus ADS-B. Therefore I don’t give the survey much credit.

Garmin has been improving their APP and with their resources can pass WingX quickly.

I don’t understand why I might be the only one who contacted WingX with their defects. I would hope others that own the APP would be contacting WingX also. Without maintaining their quality WingX will be losing a lot of customers. It’s too bad, as I still consider this the best Navigational APP on the IPad when it works.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

This is a reply  to my ADS-B/XM column

Interesting article.  I recently got to test both on a flight back from San Diego.  My ride to Montgomery could only get me there in the late afternoon.  Only isolated thunderstorms were predicted fo Phoenix, but Flight Service was wrong.  As I was the approaching Phoenix area, Sky Harbor started holding departures.  Deer Valley was clear but the weather was between me and Deer Valley.
 Both XM and ADS-B showed gaps in the weather.  The line of thunderstorms was moving NW at 15 knots.  Every time I got around a thunderstorm where a gap was supposed to be, it wasn't there.
Buckeye was now in the gust front, and I wasn't feeling very confident about either xm or ads-b readouts, so I asked ATC how Wickenburg looked.  My plan was to head NW and either get around the thunderstorms or land at Wickenburg and let them pass.  When I got within sight of the Wickenburg area it looked terrible.  ATC still said it looked good on their radar.  I guess theirs doesn't loop, or they would have seen that the storm was going to get there before I did.
 We ended up accepting defeat and went all the way back to Blythe to spend the night.  I was glad that I had plenty of fuel onboard.
 Anyway, I found out that my I-pad ads-b only updates weather every 10 minutes.  I don't know how old it is at that point.  XM weather updates more often, but again I don't know how old it is at that point either.  Neither one is very accurate if the weather is moving or developing very fast.  I believe some ATC facilities are able to get the NEXRAD feed, and if they are using that they are not getting current weather either.
 Sorry for the long message, I just started to say that I liked your article. 
Take Care,

Saturday, August 11, 2012



I’m a big believer of having weather information in the cockpit. Before weather depiction I had to cancel numerous trips that I didn’t think would be safe to make. This was also affirmed by many pilot friends. 

For GA we had one choice for years which is XM. XM is expensive costing $55 a month. Most of my cross country flying takes place in the summer so I would subscribe to XM June through September and then put my account in suspension for the balance of the year. If I had to make a trip in the winter it was without weather in the cockpit. I had to use ATC one time to circumvent a major storm coming back from Las Vegas to Scottsdale deviating all the way to the Colorado river before turning home. I was able to complete many trips that I don’t think I could have without XM weather. My display is small using a Garmin 396 but it sure beat having no weather information. The display was clear, and I’m able to pan throughout my route. The features of XM are great and much better than ADS-B.

There is a unit made by Barron that has the capability to send XM weather to the IPad. It has a lot of wires, the cost is $1000 and you still have to pay $55 a month to XM.

A little over a year ago SkyRadar came out with wireless ADS-B IN for the IPad. I’m disappointed with ADS-B weather. There is no satellite coverage, lightning strikes or winds aloft. That being said I now have weather on my IPad that is clear to see and free. For ceilings I have to pan ahead, push on a waypoint and look at the METAR. I was surprised in a flight this summer when I was at 9000 feet and the ceilings dropped quickly. I cancelled IFR, and dropped through a whole to get under the clouds. With XM I would have had some warning that clouds were ahead.

Radar weather works great. I have only had to use it once this summer, and it was right on even though radar is usually delayed 5 minutes.

ADS B IN does not have winds aloft only winds at ground level for the area I check.

After purchasing an ADS B IN unit the weather is free. Unit prices have come down in half since their introduction. Many vendors have entered the business.

It’s too bad that units are limited to one APP. Once you buy an ADS-B IN unit you are married to the APP you bought it for. You won’t be able to switch APPS in the future. As of this writing there is only one unit for Fore Flight, and it will not work on any other APP. Gamin’s unit will only work on the Garmin APP. There are several units that work on WingXPro, but they don’t work on other APPS except Sky Radar on the Sky Radar APP. As of today there are only 2 IPad APPS for navigation that I would consider using, Fore Flight and WingXPro. In my opinion the rest are a waste of time and money. Others are trying to catch up and not doing a good job of it, and several APPS are more expensive than Fore Flight and WingX. 

Traffic is another advantage of ADS-B IN. Someone has to be flying in your area to awaken the ground stations for traffic to appear. When I receive traffic on WingX it provides the location and altitude of traffic. I would like to know whether that traffic is ascending or descending.

All that being said I’m very happy to have weather for the IPad. I think our government did a very poor job of the weather features that ADS-B provides. No satellite, no winds aloft, no traffic unless ADS B Out is on. It seems to me that the FAA was incomplete in it’s process when providing weather features. It’s too bad our tax dollars went to pay for a 50% effort. And why can’t ADS B OUT be on full time so everyone can have traffic all the time. It’s supposed to be about safety!