The iPad has thus far been a remarkable tool for educational and entertainment purposes, but did you know several airlines have been using the iPad to help their pilots navigate and operate aircraft more efficiently? Back in March, Delta Airlines began testing the iPad for pre-flight and in-flight course charting. This allows pilots to have a real-time view of their projected course in order to better plan their actions at the controls.
This application replaces the paper map as the preferred method of navigational planning and allows the pilots to quickly search for and plan alternative routes should they encounter problems in flight. In addition, the information can be updated more frequently and substantially than possible with any printed medium.
Given this information, the FAA approved the use of the iPad by pilots and testing began this year.
A company named Aspen Avionics has taken advantage of this approval by developing technology that allows the iPad to communicate directly with the cockpit, enabling real-time instrument and position updates to be displayed in a more dynamic form than possible with traditional cockpit instruments. In a sense, it customizes the experience for the pilot, allowing them to quickly reference the information they need and concentrate on flying.
MyGoFlight has developed a system of hardware for mounting the iPad to the cockpit and software that allows pilots to easily access the interface and accomplish tasks such as jotting down clearances, determining weather patterns, and other important pre-flight and in-flight duties.
Over all, the iPad is a versatile form factor that has proven to provide a wide range of functionality for its users. The tests and resulting successes from its use in cockpits has paved the way for similar devices to improve on what has been an area that rarely sees any revolutionary updates. A cockpit cluttered with paper maps and other analog tools could be a footnote in the history of aviation within a few years. Still, with mechanics and electronics capable of failure for any number of reasons, there is no substitute for the intuition and experience of a good pilot.
With this in mind, can the versatility of iOS be molded in ways that help professional drivers to exceed the need for simple GPS apps?