Using the iPad as an EFB to display digital charts comes with many advantages: the annual subscription to most chart apps is less expensive than paper subscriptions, updates are ridiculously easy, you don’t need a flashlight to see them at night and you can access any chart for the U.S. with just a few taps. The key to making the iPad useful as an EFB though is proper securing and mounting in the cockpit. Unlike a folded sectional, the iPad won’t stay put for long when in turbulence if it’s resting on your lap. Here are our favorite ways to secure the iPad in the airplane.
This is by far the easiest option and makes use of your lap to keep the iPad secure and easily accessible. Sporty’s has been designing kneeboards for pilots since the 1960s, and the latest generation are created just for iPads. Plus many of the kneeboards serve as a great everyday protective case for your iPad. Here are a few options:
- Simple -> The Slimline iPad Kneeboard uses a compact design to secure the iPad to your leg, and works great in small cockpits. Plus, its built-in swiveling mechanism allows you to view your tablet in either landscape or portrait mode.
- Bi-Fold Kneeboard -> Based on the classic folding kneeboard design, the Sporty’s iPad Kneeboard is enhanced with the ability to adjust the iPad to multiple viewing angles. This is useful in minimizing screen glare. Another option here is the iPro Aviator Kneeboard, which uses a more rigid design.
- Deluxe -> This new leather case of the Deluxe Leather iPad Kneeboard is specifically designed for the cockpit, but is also stylish enough for everyday use. Your iPad will stay securely attached to your leg, and the rotating mechanism makes it easy to switch between landscape and portrait views.
For those who like to keep their lap obstruction-free while flying, the Ram iPad Suction Mount provides great flexibility to secure the iPad in several different positions to the inside of your windshield. We’ve tested numerous suction mount systems, and have found the models from Ram to be the best. They use a strong injection-molded iPad cradle that securely holds the iPad (works with all 3 models), a strong suction mount and a double socket connecting arm that allows for easy rotation and angling of the iPad.
We’ve found this mount works very well if you attach it to the inside of the windshield in front of the co-pilot’s seat and let it hang a bit over the glare shield. If you want to keep the view open out the front for the person in the right seat, it also fits well in the left corner of the windshield in larger aircraft. And don’t worry, the suction seal is very tight and won’t fall down in flight.
Another option for mounting the iPad in the cockpit is to use the Ram iPad Yoke Mount. This uses the same iPad cradle as the suction mount, but includes a different clamping base to firmly secure it to the shaft at the rear of the yoke. This mount works very well with high-wing Cessna and Piper aircraft, and does not affect aircraft control on the yoke.
If you find the iPad is in the way, try two slightly different positions. First, try attaching the yoke upside down, so the connecting arm goes under the yoke instead of above it. This will lower the iPad slightly and may block fewer instruments. Secondly, you can mount the iPad to the co-pilot yoke and angle the iPad towards the pilot. This keeps it completely out of the way.
A different type of yoke mount is available for Beech aircraft. This iPad Beech Yoke Mount includes a larger adjustable clamp that fits around the larger control shaft found on these aircraft.
Ram Mount iPad Cradle options
Both the suction mount and yoke mount include the standard Ram iPad cradle, which is form fitted to securely hold all models of the iPad in place. The drawback here is that you’ll have to remove any protective cases or covers before using the cradle. To make things easier, Ram offers another version of the cradle that allows more flexibility, securing an iPad/case with an adjustable spring-loaded grip. This also works well if you want to mount an Android or other smaller 7″ tablet in the cockpit. Check out the various options here.
What’s best for my airplane?
The biggest factor in mounting your iPad comes down to personal preference and type of airplane. Here’s a quick breakdown of what we recommend based on aircraft type:
- Cessna high-wing (C152, C172, C182, etc.) - Suction, Yoke or Kneeboard
- Cirrus – Suction or Kneeboard
- Cessna Corvalis/400 – Suction or Kneeboard
- Beech - Beech Yoke Mount or Kneeboard
- Piper - Suction, Yoke or Kneeboard
- Small/Mid-Size Jets – Kneeboard
We’d love to hear other ideas for iPad mounting. What works best for you?