Technology has really improved the way we do business in aviation and has really made some of the tasks pilots need to do much simpler. With the latest generation of tablets, you can do on your iPad kneeboard what it would have taken multiple charts, books, and calculations to do only 10 or so years ago. I’ve put together a list of my top-rated, go-to aviations apps and software that I use on a regular basis as a pilot.
When I was learning to fly 14 years ago back in 2005, we still frequently used fax machines to get weather and even submit flight plans. Even in 2013 I was required to demonstrate competency in this, and shockingly I was still using fax machines in 2017 to submit in-flight catering requests. Of course, today I do all of this using my smartphone and some pretty nifty applications.
These 13 applications will help you with getting the aviation weather, running checklists, identifying aircraft as well as identifying aircraft radio frequencies. Enjoy!
Foreflite Mobile Aviation App
Electronic Flight Bags are the next generation solution to managing pilots in-flight information needs. Student pilots need a quality EFB that is easy to learn and use. Foreflite is one of the best all in one electronic flight bag apps, which combines everything from planning, navigation, in-flight weather briefing, weight and balance calculations, IFR en route and approach charts and moving maps. You can even file VFR flight plans, and there are options for logbook record-keeping and in-flight checklists. You should still carry paper charts as your back up, but using the EFB is convenient and efficient. ForeFlight Mobile is $100 per year for the Basic Plus subscription or $200 per year for the Professional plus subscription.
JepFD pro Pilot App
I use Jeppesen FliteDeck Pro X on all my international flights. The combination of features, especially the weather (icing and turbulence live overlays on the IFR charts) is a huge time saver!
The latest version is easy to use and transition to from previous versions using the same layouts; if you have used ForeFlight or FlightDeck you will be instantly familiar. The app is highly intuitive and easy to use, even with no previous experience.
The update system is very easy and highlights when information is out of date; at the click of a button this will sync (hot top – make sure you are connected to WiFi! Its easiest to do this the night before, but you can easily sync in the flight lounge or even in-flight using a SatCom internet connection).
Other fantastic functionality includes the ability to input your flight route, which then provides quick access to Jeppeson approach and departure plates, detailed taxi guidance, Winds aloft, Terminal Weather and NOTAM information and links to aerodrome databases for things like Noise abatement procedures, runway/taxiway/apron strength and PCN’s, as well as other local knowledge and procedures. These routes can be shared wireless to your crew on another iPad.
MyRadar NOAA Weather App for Radar, Forecasts and Storms
MyRadar NOAA Weather Radar, Forecast and Storms is a fantastic flight planning tool for all pilots; whether recreational and professional. MyRadar provides Fast and accurate High Definition Radar overlays, Advanced wind animations, easy to interpret terminal weather forecasts and observations, as well as Aviation data, SIGMET (significant meteorological information) and AIRMETS (airmen’s meteorological information). It also features very accurate spot fire locator functions. This app is not just useful for pilots, but for anyone with a keen interest in the weather.
Flightradar24 Flight Tracker
Check out our article on the best general aviation flight tracker to see how you can use FlightRadar24 Flight tracker. ADSB compliant transponders identify aircraft with their Callsign, altitude, track and speed (amongst other things). This information can be displayed to users, who can then use it to track the flight. FlightRadar24 is a passive aviation flight tracker, which sucks up information from Transponders which is being sent to Air Traffic Controllers. Flight Radar24 is completely free to use, and can provide you access to this information all over the world. There is a premium version which gives users more information and no advertising.
flight debriefing is a very important aspect of modern aviation. This value adds and increases the safety and development of pilots and aircrews. Cloud Ahoy is a debriefing service for pilots that can be used on iOS or Android devices. Using cloud technology, the debrief can be conducted via the internet on any capable device.
The software seamlessly integrates in-flight gathered metrics and information with its knowledge base and comparison engine to generate a post-flight analysis using detailed visual and interactive displays. This brings technology to the debrief, which assists both flight instructors, students, and both VFR and IFR pilots keen to maintain their flying standards. Cloudahoy provides an objective analysis of what occurred on each flight (maneuvers performed) with detailed information on its database of flights. Flight information can be logged using the CloudAhoy app, or imported using third-party software such as Garmin or Foreflight.
LogTen Pro X
LogTen Pro X is one of the industry leaders in electronic logbooks. They provide services for apple devices such as iPhone and iPad. It’s very convenient and provides warnings for flight time and crew duty issues. Although I always recommend you keep a separate paper copy, LogTen Pro X is a quick and convenient way to double-check your math in an easier to use and feature-packed format.
E6B Aviation Calculator
If you have ever struggled with using a manual E6B whizz wheel slide rule / calculator, then Sporty;s E6B Aviation Calculator is the app for you. The powerful app features all of the 20+ functions of the manual calculator, as well as important conversion factors which are essential in flight planning. Use Sporty’s E6B aviation calculator during your preflight to spin up winds for your navigation sortie including TAS, Groundspeeds and ETAs, as well as Density altitudes for landing or take-off performance. Comnpatitble on both iPad and iPhone, this can also be used on Apple Watch.
AOPA Flight Training Magazine
AOPA flight training magazine is loaded with practical tips and news for todays pilots. I would say this is a massive help for those learning to fly, to help fully immerse you in aviation. The AOPA mags app allows you to stay up to date easily on your device, as well as read back previous issues. The App is free, with an AOPA membership required to unlock content.
LiveATC Air Radio
When I was learning to fly, I went out and paid nearly $500 for an air band radio scanner. I would tune into the local air traffic frequencies just to listen to what the pilots and air traffic controllers were saying, in the hopes that it would somehow absorb into me via osmosis. It worked, listening in made me more familiar with the calls, and I realised there was just a basic structure that was always followed which I learned about in my pilot study guides and R/T phraseology handbook. I eventually was able to conquer my fear of the radio, and successfully manage the R/T required in flight. These days, you have the ability to do this anywhere you have an internet connection. LiveATC is available on the App Store for $3.99, and also has options to stream over 1000 frequencies for free through web browsers.
A thorough knowledge of flying regulations and law is imperative to accurate and safe flying. The FAR/ AIM app allows pilots to carry a copy of the regulations with them, in an easy to use and intuitive app. This includes the Federal Aviation Regulations and complete Aeronautical Information Manual including the Pilot and Air Traffic controller glossary. Using a table of contents or search function allows you to quickly track down relevent regulations or guidance. FAR/AIM is available for $9.99 in the App Store.
Sportys learn to fly course and pilot training app
Sportys pilot training app is a fantastic resource for student pilots. combining multiple features into one convinient app, Sporty’s provides pilots with a wealth of knowledge and courses. For example, Sport’s learn to fly course offers over 20 hours of High Definition video training as well as written (theory) test prep and basic fight training guidance. Loadsof free information is available in the Lite version including FAA handbooks, videos and a suggested training syllabus – you can even test drive the learn to fly course. The full content is available for $199.99 which includes Recreational, Sport and private flying modules, and access to 20 other aviation specific sources including Instrument flying, Aviation Weather interpretation, How to use ForeFlight, Flight test and review preparation, Garmin G1000 conversions, Flight radio communications, and information on conversion for pilots wanting to fly multi engine aircraft, gliders, floatplanes and even helicopters!
We live in a digital age, and can now benefit from a variety of awesome digital products for our Electronic Flight Bags. Whilst its important that we know how to fly without them, outside of the training environment they can provide us with convenience, efficiency and even offer improved flight safety over manual calculations. Aviation apps are here to stay, and we may as well get good at using them!