Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Few New Apps

I do my best to keep up with all the new stuff that keeps coming out and I owe debt of gratitude to the folks who send me pointers and suggestions. Here's a round-up of a few new iPad/iPhone apps.


For those times when you want to get a quick view of the area weather before getting an official weather briefing, AirWx is a very handy app. For a low $10 purchase price you can look up an airport and add it to a list of favorites that can offer a quick snapshot of the weather. There is no recurring subscription costs. As the developer says on his web site - "buy once, use forever."

Favorite Airports Wx
In addition to surface weather and terminal area forecasts for a particular airport, AirWx also offers winds aloft, NOTAMs, PIREPs, terminal procedures, and (for an extra charge) aircraft arrival and departure information. You can save terminal procedures to your iPad for use when network access is not available, but this requires manually opening and saving each chart you want to cache.

Terminal Procedures List

Under the Maps & Charts tabs you'll find VFR sectionals, NEXRAD radar, and a variety of weather charts. There currently isn't any way to cache VFR sectionals for use when you have no network access.

The last tab provides access to a variety of E6B calculations.

CFITools Preflight Wx

If you're looking for an integrated app for getting your pre-flight planning ducks in a row, it's hard to imagine a more comprehensive app than CFITools. The acronym NWKRAFT is sometimes used by pilots to remember the requirements of 14 CFR 91.103 "Preflight Action" - Notams, Weather, Known delays, Runway lengths, Alternate airports, Fuel requirements, and Takeoff/landing performance. CFITools helps you with several of these requirements - weather, runway lengths, and takeoff/landing performance for selected types of aircraft. All for a $30 investment.

Using the Current WX tab, enter a departure airport and you'll see a graphic representation of the winds and the airport's runways along with the headwind and crosswind component for those runways. You'll also see a historical plotting of the winds, visibility, ceiling, altimeter and dew point. If you're a student pilot, this is a quick way to see if the crosswind component is within the limits of your solo endorsement.

You can also create a weight and balance specification using one of the existing templates or you can create your own. If you want a record of your calculations or want to send the results to your instructor, just tap on Email.

Next comes takeoff and landing performance. Select one of the 16 available types, select the departure or destination airport, tap on Get Wx, then enter the aircraft's weight and you'll see takeoff and landing performance for the specified conditions. You get performance info for clearing a 50 foot obstacle. There isn't a way to add performance data for your own aircraft, so hopefully the type you fly is one of the supported types. For the one multi-engine aircraft supported (the Cessna 310), it would be nice to also see accelerate/stop distance, single-engine climb rate, and single-engine service ceiling. Easy for me to say, but much harder for an app developer to code!

Radio Navigation Trainer

Whether you're a student pilot still trying to master VOR and NDB navigation or a pilot who has been spending too much time flying glass panels, the RadioNav Sim could be just the ticket. This $2 app lets you display two navaid of your choice - RBI, RMI, VOR or HSI. You can drag the aircraft shown on the display and drag the OBS on both displays.

Help lines let you see the selected radial or bearing. You can turn these on or off. You can also choose to hide the aircraft if you want to test your orientation skills.

And if you want to test your VOR abilities, just tap on the Quiz Me button.

All That's Fit to Print

For iPad users who don't happen to have one of the HP printers supported by iOS 4.3.1, there's an inexpensive MacOS application that will let you print from your iPad to the printer(s) you have using your Mac. You can download Printopia for free, try it out, and if you like it, purchase it for just $10. You'll need a desktop or laptop machine running Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6 and iOS 4.2 on your iPhone/iPod/iPad, and a printer, but this is still more affordable than buying a dedicated printer for your iPad.

Playing Favorites

Got a favorite aviation app? Shoot me an email or post a comment.


John said...

My favorite iPhone App for aviation is AeroWeather Lite. It is free (although there is a Pro version, I haven't seen the need).

It quickly displays a summary of METAR data, nicely presented for a number of airports. Four are displayed in one screenful, but you can flick down for more.

It is a universal app, so it displays nicely on the iPad as well, but I mainly use it as a quick check when I'm out and about, before I pull out the iPad for serious planning.

This is the App that pushed me over the edge to get an iPhone two+ years ago.

JetAviator7 said...

I had lunch with a Student Pilot today and he showed me his iPad and was telling me about one of the aviation apps he had installed.

I was shocked at the cost - over $100! I don't have an iPad, I have an iPhone and the apps I use are all free.

Amazing what is going on with technology these days.

Mike said...

Notify NTSB is a lifesaver when that bad day strikes.

Walks you through NTSB notification requirements (49CFR830).

toddgrx said...

Pilots Guide (Optima Publications) has come out with an iPad/iPhone version of their loose-leaf paper version. Handy for flying to an unfamiliar airport and wondering what the arrival procedure may be. But can't rely on all information, especially the general airport info (food, fuel, FBOs, etc) to be entirely accurate and up-to-date.

David (@dvdyip) said...

Tim's Air Navigation Simulator is a Java app that also does a good job of radionav demos for free.