After dry flying the iLiad Reader/eFlyBook combo for a couple of days, I decided to continue the testing in the real-world, unforgiving environment of ... instrument flight instruction!
I decided, right off the bat, that I wouldn't make myself or my students dependent on the eFlyBook. In the words of Judge Judy - "I am not a stupid person!" So I had paper approach plates handy, a regular pen and paper, and a current A/FD. I also had my VFR charts, since the eFlyBook doesn't provide these.
The first issue I ran into is that the eFlyBook kneeboard, such as it is, doesn't provide a way to physically store some of my frequently used junk, like instrument covers or a way to stow my VFR charts. I thought about strapping the eFlyBook on one leg and my regular kneeboard on the other, like a gunslinger, so I tried it. The problem was that in small cockpits, there wasn't much space and I found myself saying "This here cockpit ain't big enough fer the two of us." So I stowed my regular kneeboard under the seat, when the aircraft I was flying made this possible (i.e. not a Cessna 150).
As I suspected from my dry flying, the iLiad reader's notepad feature was of limited use since I couldn't hot swap between the note pad and an approach plate. So I tried to be clever. I'd write down the starting tachometer and hobbs times, the date, the tail number, pilot's name, date, and departure ATIS, then switch to the airport diagram for the departure airport. One small problem. As soon as I switched to the airport diagram, I forgot the letter assigned to the current ATIS. D'oh! Wait, I might still be able to make this work ... Think, dammit! Okay, I'll write the ATIS identifier on my hand. Riiiiight. Or how about I start taking ginkgo biloba to improve my short term memory?
Real World 1, iLiad Reader/eFlyBook 0
Holding short of the runway, ready for departure, I had the departure procedure displayed and everything seemed alright. Then I heard the words coming out of my mouth - "Underneath your departure chart, I recommend having an instrument approach chart for a possible emergency return to your departure airport." I looked at the iLiad Reader and it looked so cool, but it had, once again, fallen short.
Real World 2, iLiad Reader/eFlyBook 0
After departure, we broke out on top and the pilot I was flying with donned his foggles. My two brown eyes were the only ones looking for traffic, so I cautiously divided my attention between monitoring the flight and trying to display the next approach chart. Without looking, I reached down and extracted the stylus from the back of the iLiad reader. A bit later I looked down to begin tapping in the next airport ID on the touch screen keyboard. That's when I discovered that I had inadvertently pressed the round download button, located on the upper right hand corner of the unit. The eFlyBook search screen was gone, the Download Status screen was displayed, and it was going to take quite a bit of attention and stylus tapping to get back to where I was. Grrrr!
Real World 3, iLiad Reader/eFlyBook 0
On another occasion, I tried to back up a level to load a different approach chart, but the screen seemed hung. After tapping with the stylus and pushing some buttons, I decided to do a hard reset by powering off and powering back on. On another occasion when the thing hung up, I found pressing the DOCS or NOTES button got things unstuck.
Real World 4, iLiad Reader/eFlyBook 0
With my student flying a GPS Alpha approach in VFR conditions, there was too much VFR traffic in the pattern to safely circle. So I tell my student to execute the missed approach. I glance briefly at the iLiad and realize that scrolling to the bottom of the approach plate has obscured the missed approach procedure. Of course, there's the small, graphic symbols that tell you how to fly the missed approach.
Real World 5, iLiad Reader/eFlyBook 0
On the ground, I quiz one student about LDA approaches, asking "Can an LDA have a glideslope?" He answers "no" and I recall an example from memory - the Roanoke, Virginia LDA RWY 6 approach. And guess what? I can call it up with eFlyBook! Next we discuss circling approaches and I again recall a good example from memory - the Gillespie (San Diego, CA) LOC D approach, including its rare use of a fan marker. I can call up that approach, too.
Real World 5, iLiad Reader/eFlyBook 1
On the ground, the iLiad Reader/eFlyBook is a pretty cool package. The next release of the OS is supposed to provide a button lock feature, which should help with the inadvertent button pushes. This release should also allow the user to write on approach plates with the stylus. When the Airport/Facility Directory is made available, eFlyBook should be even more useful.
I want to believe. Really, I do.