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My Garmin Android Pilot

Took a VFR flight recently with my 32GB Nexus 7 (2nd Gen) tablet loaded with Garmin Pilot along with a couple other pilots using their iPads, Foreflight and the Stratus 2. I am always pleased with my android tablet and the built in GPS along with cellular modem for 4G reception. Only one piece of modest priced equipment at $349, as opposed to two with a 32GB iPad mini WiFi at $459 + the Stratus 2 at $899. The iPad mini with cellular modem and GPS is about $599. If you wish the addition of active weather and traffic for your android, the Garmin GDL 39 sells for $899 like the Stratus. I know it’s not always about money when you are a GA flyer, but then I’m a bit of an Android fan. Okay, yes, I know the iPad/Stratus 2/Foreflight combo has ADS-B traffic plus WAAS GPS and my single android setup doesn’t, but for VFR, the Garmin Pilot+Android tablet has become quite capable for what I needed on the flight.

To Compare Specs:
Garmin Pilot – https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-go/apps/garmin-pilot-/prod115856.html
Garmin GDL 39 – https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-go/apps/garmin-pilot-/prod115856.html

Foreflight – https://www.foreflight.com/ipad/
Stratus 2 – https://www.foreflight.com/ipad/

So, back to the flight. Besides the charts and course info, I would hear “I can get fuel price information and I have airport information”, but then so could I. Now we get to the ADS-B addition that I didn’t have on my android. Certainly was helpful with the active information until we got to a high traffic airport.

Quick tutorial:
ADS-B receiver only – Displays only ADS-B Out equipped aircraft (Not a lot of GA aircraft in that category “yet”).

**HOWEVER, if a nearby ADS-B Out aircraft is connected to a ground station, it will be receiving a traffic picture in a cylindrical shape with a 30 mile diameter and ±3500ft high around that aircraft. This traffic picture is “specific” to their location. If you are located somewhere within that 30 mile cylinder, your receiver will show the same picture of both ADS-B traffic “and” any Mode C traffic within that cylinder. Fine if you are in the center, but not so if located on the outer portion.

ADS-B

So here’s a problem. If you are approaching a busy airport area for landing, like the Oshkosh AirVenture, and there is and ADS-B Out aircraft nearby connected to a ground station, you get all the active ADS-B & Mode C traffic within a ±3500ft altitude. So far sounds good, but then one of my pilot passengers began to get “Information Overload” from his tablet displaying many traffic targets all around us. Problem is, that in spite of all the displayed targets, the tablet will still not display traffic that could be passing right in front of you if that traffic not ADS-B Out or Mode C equipped.

I feel that the tablets with all the aviation information are great, but sometimes no substitute for simply looking out the windscreen and flying the airplane. My comment in the airport traffic area was to please look outside and help me spot “all” the close traffic.

Okay, so bottom line. Do I like the iPad combo? Definitely yes, but then my Android Tablet is perfectly acceptable with loads of information for VFR flying and at a modest price.

Some ADS-B detailed tutorial links:
https://ipadpilotnews.com/2012/08/understanding-ads-b-traffic/
https://ipadpilotnews.com/2013/06/ads-b-traffic-101/
https://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/All-News/2014/April/02/Portable-ADS-B-seminar

*Under current FCC regulations, the use cellular devices is prohibited while airborne. BUT, there are some changes in the wind… stay tuned.

iOS 7 Update Caution

Categories: Apps, Newsworthy
Comments: No

WingX Pro/ Hilton Software iOS 7 Update Caution…iOS 7

…. because of issues we have seen with iOS 7 (reboots, lock up, and strange UI behavior) and unrelated to any third party app (including WingX Pro7), we cannot recommend upgrading your iPhone or iPad to iOS 7 (for now).
If you have already upgraded to iOS 7.0, just be aware that there are some instability issues in the underlying iOS and be sure to upgrade to the latest iOS as soon as Apple releases an update. Read Full Article!

ForeFlight iOS vs Garmin Pilot Android

Background…
Was on a recent flight to Oshkosh for the airshow and I had my trusty Google Nexus7 tablet with the Garmin Pilot app. My friend had his ever faithful iPad with the ForeFlight app. The iPad was WiFi only, so needed an external GPS for moving map and ADS-B device for weather etc. The GPS/ADS-B was the Stratus One. My android tablet was WiFi plus 3/4G cellular and it’s own built-in GPS, so I was able to load up all the latest information during taxi. I believe even WiFi only androids typically have a built in  GPS. Why is this important? The moving map displays require active GPS information. The ADS-B device gave the added traffic information to the iPad which I did not have on my Android tablet.

What happened?
So now for the showdown! Well truth be told, they really have similar features. One could pretty much do everything the other could. The really big difference was that the Stratus would loose signal more often that I expected and the data it provided either wouldn’t display or not be current. The android tablet had a fairly current display. We tried placing the Stratus in multiple locations with only marginal change.

Thoughts…
The aircraft itself could be an issue with signal interference, so the Stratus may well have preformed better in another plane. There is also a smaller Stratus 2 out for around $899 with better ADS-B reception. Yes, I am an android devotee and probably a bit prejudiced, but the bottom line is that I was pleased with my Garmin Pilot app on the Nexus7 android and it provided most everything I needed for around $300. True there was no traffic on my tablet, but it was severe clear and there is always the old “look out the window” technique.

If you have some different experiences, I welcome your comments…

Below is a table comparing the 2 apps using mostly the descriptions taken from the manufacturer….

ForeFlight Mobile ( iOS )Garmin Pilot ( iOS or Android )
ForeFlight Mobile is the critically acclaimed flight planning, flight support, and electronic flight bag (“EFB”) app for pilots. Navigation charts, Internet and in-flight weather, airport facility directory information, moving map, hazard and terrain awareness, aviation documents, and much more.Garmin Pilot is the most comprehensive suite of tools for Android designed specifically for general aviation and corporate pilots. Flight planning, DUAT(S) filing, charts, interactive maps, weather briefing resources and navigation capabilities; it’s all included. The app’s intuitive interface mirrors those on the newest Garmin touchscreen avionics so you can go seamlessly from preflight to inflight. Plan, file, fly with Garmin Pilot.
ForeFlight service requires a subscription, available via in-app purchase. $74.99 annual.30 Day Free Trial! $9.99 Monthly Subscription Required or $74.99 annual.
AIRPORT AND FACILITY DIRECTORYAIRPORT AND FACILITY DIRECTORY
ForeFlight’s A/FD provides information about US and major international airports. Data is provided by government authorities, the AOPA, and Universal Weather and Aviation. Critical airport information is displayed elegantly and additionally provides METARs, TAFs, winds aloft, and NOTAMS.View detailed information for more than 5,300 U.S. airports with included AOPA Airport Directory data. Flight rules, Nearby Airports, NOTAMs and Safe Taxi.
PLATES & CHARTSPLATES & CHARTS
ForeFlight provides access to US VFR and Terminal Area (TAC) charts; US and Canadian VNC/IFR en-route charts; area and gulf helicopter charts, and 15,000 US and 2,000 Canadian instrument procedures. En-route charts and over 12,000 terminal procedures are geo-referenced.Charts: VFR Sectionals, VFR WACs, TAC’s, low and high IFR en-route, airport diagrams and approach procedures.
WEATHERWEATHER
CForeFlight’s weather is best-in-class. 10 weather Slip Maps(TM) with route overlay, pinch and zoom support, and touch planning support deliver information about conditions along your route quickly and visually. In-flight weather is possible via Stratus ADS-B or XM.Weather Maps: Animated radar, AIRMETs/SIGMETs, Lightning, PIREPs, METARs/TAFs, Winds Aloft, TFRs, Infrared and Visible Satellite. Receive and display subscription-free ADS-B weather and datalink traffic with a GDL 39 receiver. Use the unique NavTrack feature to preview changing weather conditions along your flight route. In-Flight WX does not require ADS-B with 3G or 4G data.
HD NEXRAD composite radarNEXRAD radar
Visible and IR satelliteVisible and infrared cloud imagery
Flight rules – Visibility- Sky coverage- Wind conditions- Temp and dew-point spreadGarmin Pilot, weather data can be displayed over a VFR sectional or an IFR low or high en-route chart to visualize the weather for your route.
LightningLightning data
Global winds aloftWinds and temperature aloft
TOUCH PLANNING & MOVING MAPTOUCH PLANNING & MOVING MAP
Plan flights by touch to draw a route of flight, bend a route around weather, and add or drop waypoints. ‘Direct To’ functions get you where you want quickly.Create and graphically edit flight plans. Easily modify your route by dragging your finger across the screen or add waypoints with just a few taps. Also Direct To entry.
Engage the moving map and see your ship’s position on top of en-route charts; use the customizable dashboard to display groundspeed and altitude, track, GPS accuracy, or one of 15 different instruments. Only the +Cellular model iPads contain the GPS chip that can be used to activate the moving map capabilities of ForeFlight Mobile. However, the WiFi model can be paired with an external GPS to provide location fixes in flight.Gain valuable GPS-derived situational awareness with appropriate hardware. The app offers a graphical HSI directional display, as well as indicators for groundspeed, altitude, rate of turn and vertical speed. Most WiFi Android tablets include GPS for location, speed etc. to provide moving map
Optional geo-referenced plates and diagrams.Optional geo-reference Garmin FliteCharts® and Garmin SafeTaxi® show aircraft position on approach charts and taxiways
AIRWAYS/SIDS/STARSAIRWAYS/SIDS/STARS
ForeFlight supports airways, SIDS, STARS, and providers cleared ATC routes. Use multi-runway SIDS, airway entrances/exits, intersections, airway identifiers, and even the most complex STARS.Electronic approach plates and terminal procedures for more than 3,000 U.S. airports.
FUEL PRICESFUEL PRICES
ForeFlight provides fuel price information, visually color coded by price, for 2,300+ FBOs in Canada and the US. Pilots can also submit fuel price updates in-app.Look up fuel prices along your route to calculate the most cost-effective flights possible. Can overlay on map display.
FLIGHT PLAN FILINGFLIGHT PLAN FILING
File flight plans from your iPhone or iPad and get confirmation in seconds. Copies are stored on our servers for safe-keeping; email confirmations and briefings are sent automatically.Flight plan filing via DUAT(S) With Garmin Pilot, users can easily enter a flight plan. Pre-loaded forms make it quick to save and reuse data for frequently flown routes. And when the flight plan is ready, Garmin Pilot makes it simple to file, cancel or close the flight plan via DTC DUAT or CSC DUATS.
DOWNLOAD MANAGERDOWNLOAD MANAGER
Select the regions and information you need. Download one area or the whole country from our highly reliable delivery network. Plate and chart volumes install in seconds.Select the regions and information you need. Download one area or the whole country.
COMMENTSCOMMENTS
Submit comments directly from device, wherever you may be, and read comments from other pilots. You may just find a great place for fried pickles.
CREDITSCREDITS

Canadian radar coverage is provided by Environment Canada.
International A/FD provided by Universal Weather and Aviation.

Comprehensive weather data direct from the National Weather Service and Environment Canada.

Garmin Pilot Android Review

Everyone talks about the iPad and iPad mini for the aviation apps for navigation and I decided to see what would be comparable on the android platform. I purchased a Nexus 7 tablet and decided that the best app for android to compete with the WingX Pro or Foreflight apps for iPads would be the Garmin Pilot. I have tested and used the WingX for android, but it really is mostly a weather app with some airport charts and a couple aviation functions that is nothing like the maps, etc for the iPad platform. To compare the iPad mini and Nexus 7, here is some basic information:

Ipad Mini 32Gb Wifi+Cellular $559.00 – Google Nexus 7 32Gb Wifi+Cellular $299.00
The Google Nexus 7 offers the 1.2GHz quad core processor, while the A5 dual-core processor of the iPad Mini is the one from the iPad 2. Geekbench tests put the Google Nexus 7 in front of the iPad Mini with twice the speed. You should get great battery life with either of the tablets. The Google Nexus 7 comes with around 8.5 hours, while with the iPad Mini you may be able to get 10 hours.

Ok, so some difference, but both very capable. Anyway, here is what I was quickly able to do with the Nexus 7 and the Garmin Pilot…

The main menu screen shows Map, Active Flight Plan, Trip Planning, Airport Info, Charts (like Approach Plates, STARS, SIDS), Downloads for maps etc, and settings.

 

Choosing the map screen from the Home/main menu, we can then select which basemap we want displayed.

Click Maps then Basemap
MainMenu
Icon Selection Choices
MapChoices

 

Here are the VFR Sectionals and IFR Low (or High) Altitude Charts for Basemaps. These can/should be downloaded so they are available when you have no wifi or cellular connections.

VFR Sectional
Vfr Sectional
IFR Low
Ifr Low

 

On top of the basemaps, we can overlay several other important pieces of information such as Radar, Airport weather, TFR’s, Winds Aloft, Fuel Price and others.

Click Overlay Icon
Vfr Sectional
Overlays Selection
Ifr Low

 

Here are some overlay screens:

Radar Overlay
Radar
Upper Winds 6000ft
UpperWinds

Airport Weather Overlay
AirportWx
Fuel Prices Overlay
FuelPrice

 

Clicking on an Airport on the basemap, brings up another menu where you can select it as a Direct to, Airport Information, Navaids, Flight Plan or sets a Waypoint.

Airport Info Menu
AirportInfo
Runway Info
RunwayInfo

 

Selecting Airport Info or Charts on the Home Screen Menu:

 

For Flight Planning, you can select Direct To, The Active Flight Plan icon on Home/Menu or do them directly on the screen with tap and rubberbanding a course. You can now also select the new Track UP feature for the Moving Map from the Main Menu -> Settings.

Home Menu
HomeMenu
Direct To
DirectTo

Active Flight Plan
FltPlan
Rubber Banding
RubberBand

 

With Garmin Pilot, users can easily enter a flight plan. Pre-loaded forms make it quick to save and reuse data for frequently flown routes. And when the flight plan is ready, Garmin Pilot makes it simple to file, cancel or close the flight plan via DTC DUAT or CSC DUATS

Split Moving Map & ApproachPlate
SplitScreen
Split Moving Map & NavPanel
Split2

 

Some other features include:
Optional geo-reference Garmin FliteCharts® and Garmin SafeTaxi® show aircraft position on approach charts and taxiways.

Add the Garmin GDL 39 receive-only data link radio with on-board GPS, 978 MHz (Universal Access Transceiver frequency band), and 1090 MHz Extended Squitter (1090 ES) receivers. It is designed to receive, process, and output traffic (ADS-B air-to-air, and TIS-B traffic information), and weather (Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS-B)) information to Garmin Pilot through Bluetooth.

All in all, I am very pleased with the new features and how well it performs on my Nexus 7 tablet. The 7 inch size works quite well in the cockpit either on a Ram Mount or kneeboard. There are a couple features some of the other tablet apps provide such as terrain maps/avoidance and synthetic vision, but not sure all that is really necessary. Plus you can only fit so much on a 7 inch tablet. I have to admit that having flown many years with the Garmin 430’s/530’s, I am a Garmin fan. There is not much else to need or want for general vfr or ifr flying and a reasonable price. For one year of Garmin updates I paid $74.99 + the $299.00 for the Nexus7.

 

New FlyQ

Categories: Apps, New Products
Comments: No

AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association)  has just introduced the new FlyQ Pocket for your Apple or Android smartphone. It’s a free app for AOPA members (if you aren’t a member and you fly, you really should look into all their member benefits) and can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play. I have put it on my Razr Maxx and find that it has a lot of good information when you don’t have your tablet handy. A very nice member benefit.
Some of the key features of FlyQ are:

  • Uses Geo-Location to Display Nearest Airports and Weather FlyQ Pocket
  • AOPA Airports Directory Provides Essential Airport Information at a Glance
  • Runway Diagrams and Satellite Images
  • Aviation Wx includes METARs, TAFs, Radar and Satellite Charts and more
  • Flight Planning with Smart Auto-Routing Capability

AOPA has developed this app in conjunction with Seattle Avionics  who provide ChartData(tm) geo-referenced aviation data for all major iPad apps, certified panel-mounted systems, and handheld GPS units.

Learn more about the FlyQ Pocket

Members also have a free FlyQ flight planner for your computer. Planner Link

EFB
And, there is the FlyQ EFB for your iPad that incorporates 3D Mapping and Synthetic Vision, Charts and Approach plates. Requires a subscription much like the other major EFB products, but has a Free 30 Day Trial period. FlyQ EFB

GE Flight Simulator

Categories: Apps, Training
Comments: 2

** It appears that the “un-official version” of this simulator is no longer available for download. If someone knows where it’s to be found, let me know. In the mean time, the official version is still available and included with the Google Earth Download… **

While browsing some online flight sims, I came across GEFS-Online (Google Earth Flight Simulator) which is sort of an unofficial version done by Xavier Tassin in Amsterdam. There is an official Google version in Google Earth, but appears to be only a couple aircraft and much less in the way of features. I spent a little time trying the GEFS-Sim and soon found that using a keyboard for control was very scary. Kept forgetting which key did what when things got a bit out of control and soon totally upended. You can also use joystick control, so borrowed one and proceeded to try with that. Much more friendly and a lot closer to the real thing. The sim has plugins for Windows and Mac as well as joystick control. Excellent Sim and very fun! Check out the video…

GEFS is a free, online flight simulator based on Google Earth. Whether you are a licensed pilot practicing VFR, an aviation enthusiast or just looking for some fun flying a plane in beautiful sceneries, you can enjoy GEFS quickly, directly from your web browser.   https://www.gefs-online.com/

  • -built on Google Earth: worldwide photo-realistic sceneries
    -simulate fixed wing aircraft, helicopter, paraglider and hot air balloon
    -supports joystick control
    -realistic flight model (lifting-line theory)
    -real-time weather, dynamic wind lift
    -multiplayer: fly and chat with other pilots across the globe
    -over 30,000 runways and global airspace map

Aircraft Choices…
Sopwith Camel F.1  /  Piper J-3 Cub  /  Evektor Sportstar  /  Dassault-Dornier  Alpha Jet  /  Douglas DC-3
Hughes 269a/TH-55 Osage  /  Major Tom (hot air balloon)  /  McDonnell Douglas MD-11  /  SU-35
Airbus A380 / Concorde  /  Zlin Z-50  /  Cessna 152  /  Goat Airchair  / Paraglider  /  szd-48-3 Jantar

Here are a couple screen shots after taking off from KMSP in a 152 headed towards downtown Minneapolis. One is in following view and the other in cockpit view. There is also a map that can be inserted on the screen with position information and can set a flight path.

KMSP1KMSP2Map

ADS-B Stratus

Categories: Apps, New Products
Comments: No

STRATUS ADS-B Stratus

I have a good flying friend that recently purchased the $799.00 Stratus portable ADS-B weather receiver for ForeFlight Mobile. Since he uses his iPad regularly, he naturally figured the Stratus would be an excellent addition and could soon pay for itself by discontinuing some other subscription services. On a first trial flight, IFR from Minneapolis area to Kansas City, the Stratus lost signal from the ground stations a number of times.(*Turns out that the particular unit appears to have a defect as a different unit had no issues on a similar flight.)
So, with a bit of research, there were a few possibilities. First is the Coverage Areas. Not all the U.S. is covered with the ADS-B system and the route appears to have some gaps in coverage.

coverage

Second, there could be an issue with the antenna/aircraft as well. In the PR for the product I noted the following:

“Most pilots will not require an external antenna and can thus operate completely “wire-free”. Stratus includes a specially tuned, high-performance internal antenna that will get good reception in many aircraft. Some aircraft, however, may require an external antenna due to signal attenuation caused by the aircraft.”

Third, there could be a problem with the particular unit. As it turns out, a different unit was tried and had no problems. The faulty unit was replaced promptly and all is well.

Would be wise to plan on taking a new unit out on a few mini test flights to make certain all works well and proper operation is understood.  Then check your route against the current ADS-B tower locations so there are no surprises should any coverage areas be limited. The test flights will also help assess the possible need for an external antenna. Finally, consider the Stratus as an excellent backup source that confirms graphically all the detailed information you received in your complete standard briefing from Flight Service and your detailed planning prior to flight.

The PR on the product:  Stratus, a new high-performance, battery powered, portable, wire-free ADS-B weather receiver designed to work hand in glove with ForeFlight Mobile. Stratus is the result of a collaboration between Appareo Systems, ForeFlight, and Sporty’s. Stratus receives and transmits to ForeFlight Mobile CONUS NEXRAD, regional high-resolution NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, TFRs, AIRMETs, SIGMETs, NOTAMs, pilot reports, and winds/temperature aloft. Each product is nicely integrated with ForeFlight Mobile’s Airports and Maps features. Looks pretty good to me…

 

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