New Stratus adds attitude, traffic

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Stratus
Sporty’s, ForeFlight and Appareo unveiled the all-new Stratus second generation this week.

One year ago at Sun ‘n Fun, the three company partnership of Appareo, ForeFlight and Sporty’s announced Stratus, a wireless ADS-B receiver that delivers subscription-free weather to the iPad. Stratus quickly became a runaway hit, and made ADS-B a household word among pilots. Today at the 2013 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in, the group unveiled the second generation Stratus with a new design and a host of new features.

In particular, the second generation Stratus has two higher end features that are becoming popular options with pilots:

  • AHRS. The new Stratus includes a complete Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS) for backup attitude information in the cockpit. While you would never use this information for primary navigation, it provides a reasonable backup in a worst case scenario where the panel goes dark. The internal AHRS has some unique features to help it align itself automatically, so pilots don’t have to do any manual calibration before flight and the unit does not have to be perfectly level. The attitude instruments are displayed on a separate app–Stratus Horizon–which is free. Information includes a large attitude indicator, updated 10 times/second for a smooth presentation, plus GPS groundspeed, GPS altitude, GPS vertical speed and rate of turn. An nice setup would be to run Horizon on your iPhone as a backup, while your iPad runs ForeFlight.
  • Dual band traffic. While ADS-B traffic has some major limitations, more and more pilots are equipping their airplanes with ADS-B Out transponders. With one of these transponders, a portable ADS-B receiver can offer an excellent traffic display. Even without an ADS-B Out transponder, some pilots will still find the limited ADS-B traffic to be valuable. The new Stratus includes a dual band (978 MHz and 1090 MHz) ADS-B receiver to pick up the most traffic possible and it displays this traffic information right on the ForeFlight Maps page. With ForeFlight’s TrafficTrend display, pilots can see relative altitude, climb/descent rate and projected track.
AHRS screenshot
The all-new Stratus second generation features a built-in AHRS for attitude information.

There are also a number of performance enhancements, based on pilot feedback:

  • Smaller case. While the original Stratus wasn’t exactly large, the new one is 30% smaller. It’s an impressive feat considering the new unit includes a second band ADS-B receiver and an AHRS, all while maintaining the 8-hour battery life. It fits nicely in your hand now or in a coat pocket.
  • Remote GPS and ADS-B antenna options. Stratus is designed to work without any wires, which is a real convenience for most pilots. But for some jet operators with heated windshields, the option to use an external antenna is a must. So the new Stratus includes ports for a wired GPS and/or ADS-B antenna. This allows Stratus to be mounted out of the way–even under a seat–and still get outstanding reception.
  • Increased temperature operating range. One problem that any battery-powered device can have (including the iPad) is overheating. The second generation Stratus has a number of features to prevent this, including a white case to reflect heat, an internal cooling fan and a custom dash mount.
  • Dash mount. Because the internal AHRS needs to remain still for proper operation, Stratus includes a custom bracket and silicone dash mount. It makes it easy to place the receiver on the glare shield and not have to worry about it sliding around.

Just like the original Stratus, the second generation model receives subscription-free ADS-B weather and includes a WAAS GPS for reliable position information. The GPS is a great way to take advantage of ForeFlight’s new Hazard Advisor feature, which shows a high resolution terrain dislay.

At just $899, the second generation Stratus is aggressively priced, coming in at least $200 less than comparable receivers. Orders for the new Stratus are being accepted now, and it is expected to ship by the end of April.

The original Stratus isn’t going away, either. In fact, it received a $100 price cut, to $699. ForeFlight also announced that the first generation Stratus will support single band ADS-B traffic by the end of the month, after updating to the latest version of ForeFlight and completing a free firmware update.

More information is available at Sporty’s website.

31 COMMENTS

  1. Get XM if you fly seriously and need wx data. It has glitches also, but sounds more reliable than Stratus. And you can get the data on ground if needed.

  2. I fly with the original Stratus in an aircraft that is ADS-B Out equipped – what’s the difference between dual and single band traffic?

    • You’ll get excellent traffic. Just be sure your ADS-B transponder is programmed to receive on 978 MHz.

  3. Coming out with a new unit was a “stealth” operation… I have had numerous contacts with Appareo, the last being at HAI in Las Vegas in February, and there had been no hint of a redesign… In spite of my comments about the black plastic case being a poor heat sink, possible need for a cooling fan etc (forget putting it on the glareshield)… Appareos suggestions included covering it with white paper and then offering the optional, but not always convenient, ram mount.

    I contacted Sportys this morning about trading my Stratus for the one that now has the improvements that I had thought were needed, and they advise that is not possible.. I would be OK paying the $100 difference.. I dont care about the AHARS but feel the basic design with respect to cooling was deficient from day one! I guess I will wait for another manufacturer to come out with a competitive unit but wish Appareo had been more honest about their recognition of cooling inadequacies.

    • Last time I checked, there’s no constitutional right to leaks about new products. Apple never tells you when a new iPad is coming out…

      I’m just thankful we have some innovation in aviation for once.

  4. I bought my Stratus knowing that a new/improved unit would be out relatively soon. In the meantime, I used it and will probably keep it for awhile. I think the best way to upgrade is to sell it on CL or eBay. I think right now a used Stratus would sell quickly for $500.

  5. I’ve never had a cooling problem, but the unit sets on the back seat with the suction-cup antenna hooked to it. It is never in the sun, and the device does everything I expected from it. I couldn’t be happier

  6. I’ve spoken to Sporty’s. After all the reasons why they didn’t put Traffic into the original unit (it wouldn’t show everything so it might be dangerous) they now come out with a new one that obsolete’s the original (oh am I happy. Mine is 10 months old). They have no plans to support the early adapters with an upgrade plan or a partial buy-back. As a flight instructor I’d gladly pay half to upgrade to the new one. How great for instructors to bring wx and TIS into the cockpit with them. However, if Sporty’s isn’t going to support the original buyers, I’ll buy something else to upgrade.

    • Roger, we still believe (as do most people) that ADS-B traffic is very limited. But it’s a feature that many customers have asked for, so we are trying to be responsive to them.

      As for your Stratus being obsolete, I would disagree. It’s still a great ADS-B receiver that we will continue to sell and support for years. We have also announced that traffic is being enabled for Stratus 1 later this month, which is a good upgrade path.

  7. I am happy with the information I get from the Stratus but wish they had addressed the obvious shortcomings of the design, with respect to overheating, from the beginnings… The redesign, color, cooling fan etc were all things we broached with Appareo over the last year, but they acted as though there was no problem with the design. I would pay for that upgrade… Or just wait for a better mousetrap!

  8. I just borrowed a Stratus 2 from a friend. When it works, it’s great, but I’ve had connection problems. Sometimes my iPad simply will not connect with the Stratus. He has had the same problem and is returning the unit to Sportys. Is this a widespread problem or did he just get a faulty unit?

    • That’s the first we’ve heard of that problem, Tim. When you go to the Settings app, does Stratus connect OK there? Do you get a check mark? Are you running ForeFlight v5.1?

      Tell your friend to send it back if it won’t stay connected reliably.

  9. Yes, I’m running ForeFlight 5.1, but it simply would not connect. It connected before and worked fine. There were two pilots in the aircraft with two iPads and it worked well going to our destination but would not connect to either iPad on the way home. My friend did send it back.

  10. I just purchased the Stratus 2nd generation and have not had a chance to experience any WX or traffic as I haven’t been beyond 2,000 AGL. I do have ADS-B out in my airplane and what altitude should I expect to receive traffic information?

    • It depends where you’re flying, but in most parts of the US you should have good coverage by 500 or 1000′ AGL. Make sure you have the right layers turned on for the Maps page in ForeFlight (radar and traffic checked?). Then, check the Stratus Status page–accessed from the gear button at the top left of the Maps page.

      • I’m a new student and I am studing the FF app. I looking at the setup I see radar but not traffic. Can you help me find this?

  11. Also, my device has firmware 1.1 and tried to update using the Stratus Updater from the app store. I was not able to update the firmware any higher…is there a more recent version?

  12. Why has no one mentioned the the horizon app will work only in landscape view ! Fly with I pad mini mounted with a ram mount which makes app useless!

  13. John, I recently purchased the Stratus 2nd Gen and was curious if Appareo intends to add an audible traffic alert feature to the unit that speaks thru the iPad? Having that added feature keeps your head out of the cockpit, and really elevates this unit to the status of the best TCAD’s on the market.

    • Cary, it’s a good idea, but that’s probably something that would be done in ForeFlight–your iPad already has a speaker and Bluetooth audio capabilities, and ForeFlight does have some audio alerts already (like for the Runway Advisor).

  14. I use a company supplied Stratus and encountered the heating problem for the first time the other day, moved it to the armrest on the co-pilot’s side in the air from the vent, Heat warning went away and it worked fine. That’s the first time i encountered it and in the sun on the panel, should have expected it. That position would probably have shut down the ipad also. I’ll consider a used one for my personal use in the other planes I fly.

  15. I have delayed buying ForeFlight because it is compatible with only one external unit.

    Consumers should have a broader choice when making a substantial purchase like this.

  16. The horizon app will work only in landscape view ! Fly with I pad mini mounted with a ram mount which makes app useless!

    Is the company committed to developing the option to display the horizon app in portrait mode, if when do you expect it to be available?

      • Thanks John!! This is AWESOME news. ALL my RV buddies and I need portrait mode as well ! impossible to use an iPad in landscape in our aircraft.

        Thanks!!

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