Monday, March 07, 2011

iPad as Electronic Flight Bag (revisited)

Last year, Apple announced something that over the past year has taken mobile computing by storm, the iPad.

Shortly after I posted a blog post "The Apple iPad: Electronic Flight Bag?", which I considered the potential the device has for aviation. Namely, getting rid of the ridiculously overpriced and underpowered specialty "electronic flight bag" (or EFB) computers.

Now when I made that prediction, I had no clue how quickly the aviation industry would step up and embrace this device. Let's face it, sometimes with certain technology, aviation isn't always up to current times (I'm looking at you DUATs & NOTAMs).

So what's the secret to the iPad's success? Long battery life, great fit and finish, it's portable, beautiful screen, lots of power and memory, those are important, but what the iPad has that other EFBs don't is a diverse platform for developers to write excellent aviation apps. Apps such as Foreflight, Jeppesen Mobile TC, Skycharts Pro, and even the simple PDF reader app GoodReader.

Private pilots aren't the only ones noticing that the iPad is a great platform for managing a flight. The FAA has approved an EFB app from Jeppesen to be used for Executive Jet. Wonder what kind of tests the FAA has done on the device to certify it for cockpit use?

FAA authorisation came after an intensive three-month in-flight evaluation, which included a successful rapid decompression test on the iPad to 51,000ft (15,555m) and non-interference testing.

With the iPad2 coming out in a few short days, the future is looking pretty good for pilots who want a low-cost solution to having an EFB and getting rid of the paper charts. The new iPad will be lighter, thinner, and will include a built-in gyroscope. Coupled with the Bad ELF GPS, the iPad and the apps will just keep getting better.

Finally, as an aside, I really want Android to step into this space as well. Hopefully with the Motorola Xoom we'll start seeing some comparable aviation apps for Android as well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

By the Numbers

Now that has been around for over a year, I felt now would be a great time to do a deep dive on the stats and determine how pilots are using CTL.

Currently we have 159 questions, 257 answers, and over 81 users. Fifteen of those users have collected over 100 reputation points, with two users having over 1000 points.

Over the past year, CTL has had 34,160 page views and 6,800 visits. The ten top visited questions on Circle To Land are:

Figuring out the best glide-speed/glide-ratio
Helpful aviation memory mnemonics
Logging flight time, PIC vs Solo
Trouble with Steep Turns
Difference between Vx & Vy

The top five questions with the most votes are:

Diabetic pilots
Difference between Vx/Vy
How long until YOU solo'd
Night logging question
Definition of Cl/Cd max speed

As you can see, we've come a long way in a year. When I started CTL I wasn't sure how many pilots would be interested in a community Q&A or if I could get the kind of answers/questions that would be engaging to an audience of pilots. It's been amazing the amount of great questions and great answers the site has generated. With practically nothing but word of mouth advertising and general outreach.

To all the pilots who have logged in CircleToLand and posted a question or answer, thank you, you're the ones who make this site a success. I can't wait to see what happens in 2011.