The number of aviation apps has exploded over the past two years, with thousands of options for flight training, weather briefings, games and so much more. With that in mind, compiling a list of the top 10 apps may seem foolish, but we’re going to try–after all, a brand new iPad pilot needs to start somewhere. The list below isn’t necessarily our 10 favorite apps, but rather the ones we see in use most often, and are worth considering for any pilot’s tablet:
- ForeFlight Mobile. This is the app that has, probably more than any other, revolutionized the way pilots view the iPad. The all-in-one pre-flight and in-flight product includes moving maps, approach charts, weather graphics, document organization, flight plan filing and a whole lot more. It has replaced paper charts and even portable GPSs for a lot of pilots, especially as products like the Stratus ADS-B Receiver have come onto the market.
- Garmin Pilot. Garmin practically invented portable navigation products for pilots, but they were a little late to the iPad party. Since entering the market though, they’ve made up for lost time and the latest version of their app is an impressive tool. It includes many of the same features as ForeFlight, and adds Garmin GTN-style menus, split screen, GDL 39 integration and more. It’s also available on Android.
- WingX Pro7. This is the last of the “big three” navigation apps that dominate the market (along with ForeFlight and Garmin), and has been around a long time as well. WingX includes complete digital charts and powerful moving maps, including track up, terrain and split screen. When connected to an external AHRS, WingX can also show an attitude-based synthetic vision display.
- Sporty’s E6B. The good old fashioned whiz wheel can rest in peace–the iPhone or iPad makes it much easier to do performance or weight and balance calculations. This $9.99 app does all that plus conversions, timer features and basic arithmetic. It was Sporty’s first app and still one of the most downloaded among pilots. Just don’t try to take it to your FAA written exam. This app is also available on Android.
- MyRadar. This free app is simple, but it’s fast and easy to use. MyRadar shows looping NEXRAD radar for the entire US that is easy to zoom in on–perfect for pre-flight weather briefings. Recent updates have added some nice aviation features, like AIR/SIGMET overlay and route overlays based on N-numbers.
- LogTen Pro. Electronic logbooks have been around for a long time now, but the iPad finally makes it easy to keep them up to date. LogTen Pro is the most powerful logbook app we’ve seen, and is totally self-contained (so it requires no syncing with a computer). Keeping track of currency items is easy with automatic alerts, and there are dozens of options for printing your logbook. It’s also a legal replacement for a paper logbook. Read the full review here.
- Aviation Weight and Balance. This is another process that is tedious with paper and pencil, but is nearly instantaneous with an iPad. The app includes 160 pre-made aircraft templates, so you can simply plug in your numbers. If your airplane isn’t listed, it’s easy to add your own custom template. The result is a professional loading sheet with all relevant weights and a graph of the envelope. At $9.99, it’s a good value.
- ASA FAR/AIM. Many pilots religiously update their FAR/AIM book each year to the new edition. But this app, from the publisher of the most popular FAR/AIM edition, makes it a lot easier. It has a simple menu layout and a powerful search feature, which is much easier than flipping through over 500 pages of regulations. Best of all, it won’t add 5 pounds to your flight bag.
- CloudAhoy. This free app is a lot of fun, but it’s also useful for currency and flight instructors. Simply open the app and begin tracking–CloudAhoy keeps a detailed log of your flight, including speed, altitude and location. You can play back the flight over a Google Earth map or an aviation chart, complete with track log. There’s even a CFI mode that makes it easy to review key maneuvers. Read the full review here.
- FlightAware. From the immensely popular flight tracking website, this free app allows you to track any IFR flight (and some VFR flights) in the US, including airlines. It’s a good way to see when friends or family might arrive, or to review a flight you just completed. You can also get email or text message alerts based on certain N-numbers you want to track. If nothing else, the app is a fun way to track air traffic in general or see how the big storm is affecting things. Also available for Android.
So there’s our list of the top 10 apps for pilots. Some are free, some are paid, but all have something to offer for pilots. This list is far from complete–there are dozens of other great apps out there in addition to these. What’s your top 10?