For some time now, the growing practicality of smartphones and tablet computers has eased the legacy of cumbersome documentation for both pilots and airline operators alike. Indeed, the accession of mobile apps to business technologies has in no way bypassed civil aviation. A simple search will yield an abundance of different apps, each claiming to offer an enhanced solution or a streamlined approach to the workload of a broad scope of pilots. Clearly, individual mileage may vary, but we ask the question: what set of mobile apps can no airline pilot afford to do without?
Perhaps the most notable examples of an electronic flight bag (EFB) app are the widely acclaimed ForeFlight Mobile, Jeppesen Mobile FD and Garmin Pilot, among others. As multi-functioning flight planning interfaces, these apps cover everything from airport and facility directories, VFR/IFR planning and interactive moving maps to an extensive database of terminal area charts and weather information. Although deemed a must-have application by many of the world’s airline pilots, it should be noted that the precise functionality, regional usefulness and compatibility with standard charts adopted by an airline differ between them.
‘One app which we have found to be particularly favourable with pilots was not even designed for aviation itself. Essentially a document managing tool, we have seen that GoodReader has measured tremendous worth to pilots over a range of functions. The app allows for the effective storage and organisation of a number of electronic aviation documents, including flight ops publications, checklists, aviation manuals and charts. Central to its usefulness is the ability to annotate documents, search instantly for key words or figures and seamlessly synchronise the large number of text files readily utilised by pilots,’ comments the CEO of AviaitionCV.com, Skaiste Knyzaite.
Renowned among pilots in all sectors of aviation, AeroWeather Pro presents a simplified display of METARs and TAFs in a format that is both convenient to review and customisable according to your defined route of flight. While there are a mass of weather apps available, the advantages of AeroWeather are its focused simplicity for pilots, enhanced search functionality and provision of both original and decoded weather formatting.
Another app which merits consideration is LogTen Pro Universal, an intuitive and customisable tool that cleverly optimises the traditional use of a pilot’s logbook. LogTen Pro Universal serves as both an app for data entry and consolidation as well as tracking a range of dynamics. The app’s platform allows the pilot to add and update variables such as trips, aircraft types, flight and standby hours, places and certificates and to generate standardised reports from simple summaries. In addition, the app’s handiness really comes to shine through its real time tracking of duty, rest and flight times, with an eye to assist in monitoring the limits accorded by virtually any official regulation worldwide.
S. Knyzaite, CEO of AviationCV.com, points out that the decision by pilots to use tablet computers as an effective EFB comes with a caveat: the machines are not faultless. Aside from obvious issues surrounding battery charge, missing data or multi-tasking constraints, there is always the possibility that the GPS signal used by several applications will fail or that the app will crash. In addition, tablet computers undoubtedly will not share the same resilience as traditional charts if dropped during turbulence or otherwise.
‘For airline pilots who decide to take the plunge into the world of tablets and smartphones, they will surely discover their value applies both on and off the ground. Indeed, as part of our responsibilities as a flight crew leasing agency, we are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of our many pilots who are contracted with airlines aboard. In certain instances, pilots may feel disoriented or otherwise unfamiliar with their newfound country of residence, or may simply wish to be better informed about the destinations to which they fly. While in many cases we can dispense practical advice on such matters, several of our pilots have reported the usefulness of mobile apps such as TripAdvisor, XE Currency and Offmaps – to name but a few, in assisting them to become better acquainted with wherever they are,’ comments S. Knyzaite, CEO of AviationCV.com.