Surprising Ways Aviators and iPads Connect
The iPad is one of those gadgets that can be about as fun, or as functional, as their owners want them to be. These days you’ll find tablets being used for everything from keeping toddlers occupied in busy restaurants, all the way up to guiding pilots behind the sticks of private planes.
If you’re suddenly scratching your head thinking, “Pilots really use iPads to find their way in the air?” The answer to that question is an emphatic, “yes.” Thanks to a host of, surprisingly affordable, aviation specific GPS apps, pilots are using iPads for navigation and a whole lot more.
How Pilots Use iPads
Pilots have long relied on a steady flow of data, such as weather reports and maps, to help guide their way through the air. Until recently, the best way of getting all that info to aviators was through dedicated weather broadcasts or continuous reports from air traffic controllers.
Though it’s hardly an efficient system, until recently, there weren’t many other options. After all, few aircraft have built-in PCs or Internet connections; and that’s where the iPad comes into the picture.
Weather Reports, Maps & More
Thanks to an open development ecosystem, aviation oriented app designers have created a host of programs that are extremely useful for pilots in the air. These systems provide everything from current weather conditions to repair manuals to maps of airport landing strips; right at the pilots’ fingertips.
This updated flow of information at a pilot’s fingertips is nothing short of revolutionary. Any iPad-equipped pilot can easily make his own course adjustments without relying on air traffic controllers or anyone else. When you’re making split second decisions in the air, this instant access to the latest data is extremely important.
Easy to Use, Easy to Learn
Anyone who has ever used an iPad knows that these cutting edge devices are extremely intuitive and well designed. That ease of use has made them a perfect accessory for pilots, who are frequently doing two or three things at once while piloting their planes through the air.
The iPad revolution has also spawned a thriving aftermarket of products designed to help pilots use their tablets more effectively in the air. Aviation-oriented websites like Sky Geek are packed with iPad adapters and mounts that easily fit in any cockpit. Retrofitting an older aircraft with an iPad mount is like getting an entirely new dashboard.
Weight Right There
You might not know it, but every pilot is absolutely obsessed with weight. That’s because the more weight a plane is carrying, the more fuel it’s going to use. Aviation fuel, as you might imagine, is extremely expensive so the anytime a pilot shaves down the weight of his payload, that’s money in the bank.
Here again, the iPad is on the aviator’s side. Carrying heavy repair and maintenance manuals onboard is no longer necessary when the whole thing can be loaded onto a tablet. (Not only that, but the electronic version is a lot easier to search, too.)
iPads have only been used in aircraft for a few years, so we’re probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how aviators can integrate them into their regular flights. But with incredible ease-of-use and fingertip access to reams of useful information, they’re likely to be a fixture in cockpits for years to come.