After seeing a photo somewhere on Instagram of a cockpit filled with iPads and smartphones (yes there was a paper chart as well), I wondered what people think of this and what you guys prefer to use while flying.
In gliding, we have some state-of-the-art navigation and flight computers that help us flying our tasks, avoiding airspace infringements and calculating gliding distances. With the current airspace being very complicated (at least here in Belgium), flying without some sort of moving map is almost impossible. Most modern gliders are equipped with displays and flight computers like the LX9000 that are built into the dashboard, or people use their smartphones with gliding apps like XCSoar or iGlide. Of course, having an up to date paper chart in the cockpit is something we all have to take with us.
So, what do your prefer to use while flying, paper charts or electronic flight bags like apps on the iPad or iPhone? And what do you mainly use it for?
Enjoy you weekend!
ASG29 cockpit - Roman Mracek
Foreflight on the iPad + SiriusXM for weather
Haven't used a paper chart since I started using ForeFlight. There is no reason to. I even have Geo referencing so you no long have to divert your attention from flying to cross check your location. For those that say what if the iPad crashes, I have a backup copy of ForeFlight on my phone.
Ditto to what BaronPilot said. The moving map, coupled with the ability to overlay traffic, weather, and airspace restrictions has made paper charts irrelevant.
It's hard to dispute the enhanced utility of electronic charts - they are pretty magical. Paper charts are holding on tightly to their benefit as a backup that doesn't require batteries. True, an iPhone can be used as a backup - some even have a second iPad as a backup. I wouldn't argue that as being a poor decision, but my personal preference is to have a paper chart as a backup to vary the redundancy. In an all electric house, for instance, a power outage means everything shuts down. Having a wood burning fireplace and a gas stove, however, puts your redundancy eggs in different baskets, keeping you warm and fed during a power outage. With charts, I like to keep my redundancy eggs similarly spread out into different baskets. 99% of the time it probably wouldn't matter if I had a backup of paper or electric, but having had an iPad shut down on me in flight to cool off makes me wonder if excessive heat could also affect my electronic backup. I could probably pose a couple other super random and unlikely scenarios to support having a paper chart, but I'll simply leave it as this: in today's world of simplicity and convenience, we would do best to unite on the larger categories of discipline & redundancy and simply push to have a backup of any sort. The exact type of backup for those of us passionate enough to have discussions on the matter is probably largely irrelevant (aside from splitting hairs), but we should endeavor to promote our culture of discipline and redundancy to prevent people from being unable to read a raw METAR or measure a distance on a map - or even find an airport on a map - without the aid of technology shortcuts.
During my training I didn't want to use the Garmin GPS that was in most of the fleet. That was 9 years ago and there were no EFBs at the time. I wanted to be able to identify where I was flying by looking at the paper map and outside the window. Learn how to do dead-reckoning reduce my area of uncertainty.
When I got my GPS training, as we were having new aircraft at the club, for flying the Avidine, I had a very strange experience. I flew from YSBK (Bankstown Sydney) to YGLB (Goulburn). It was my first flight solo on the Avidine. I put my flight plan in the GPS (dual GPS) and I was very happy. Then I realised that only the GPS knew where I was. If something went wrong with the both GPS then I had no clue where I was. That was, of course, a very big mistake on my behalf, as I was overly relying on the GPS.
Sometimes the ephemeris data is wrong or a satellite may switch off. What do you do then?
Can you easily fall back to paper back-up?
Can you identify where you are in the airspace?
Can you navigate, avoid restricted or controlled airspace without the automation?
Now I only use the GPS as a secondary source of truth. Only to VERIFY that I am at the spot I thought I was.
My advice is that if you do rely on moving-map, iPad, EFB, etc, then in the next flight just turn it off, or put a piece of paper over it and see if you can still navigate.
For most of my recent flights I've been using the Garmin Pilot app on my iPad. It offers a lot of great features such as the so called FliteCharts. They display all of my vfr aerodrome procedures right on top of the moving map, which is especially great in very limited uncontrolled airspaces that Belgium for example has to offer. It makes the whole experience a lot more comfortable and just clears that little more room for thinking in your head when you might really need it in tricky situations. If all instruments would fail, I still got the iPad as a source for navigation and for backup instruments. If one wrong satellite would fail, I still have my VOR to rely on. If my iPad fails, I still have a GNS530 on board. If both electricity and satellites would fail, you're really having a very unlucky day (but the odds for such cases are very little). That's why I don't use paper charts as my primary source for navigation in the air. What should be your primary task however, is proper flight planning. Even with EFB's on board, you should be aware of your intentions, which legs you are going to fly and how long each leg is going to take. As soon as you get airborne, make sure to keep track of time and course and especially make it a habit for every leg you complete. If in that case really everything would fail you know how long you've been flying a certain heading and how long you can keep flying that heading. That should give you enough time to grab your map and even talk to ATC if necessary. Nevertheless, I believe navigating the old fashioned way is a sport on its own and it's never a bad idea to take up the challenge to put all electronics aside. But keep it fun, participate in preciscion naviagtion competitions for example. However don't make long trips any harder than they should be because maybe you might need that extra thinking capacity one day.
But that's my personal opinion. 😊