Adding an external GPS provides reliable and accurate location data to show your position on charts on the iPad.

Even after properly connecting an external GPS to your iPad, you may find that it does not provide position data to your aviation app.

We continue to hear from pilots who are having issues with navigation apps when using an external GPS, like those from Bad Elf and Dual. The problem is that even though the GPS is connected correctly to the iPad using Bluetooth, the iPad does not allow the position data from the GPS to be recognized by apps like ForeFlight, WingX or Garmin Pilot.

The bug resides in the iOS 6 operating system on the iPad, and unfortunately was introduced when the iOS 6 software update was released last fall. For an unknown reason this does not affect all users, and some may never experience the problem. There is a solution, but unfortunately it does not always fix the problem permanently, meaning you may have to repeat these steps if the issue reappears on future flights.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Go to the main iPad Settings app
  2. Tap on “Privacy”
  3. Tap on “Location Services”
  4. Toggle the top row to “Off”.  This will turn off location services for all of your apps.
  5. Reboot your iPad (press-and-hold the top button for 5 seconds, slide the red slider to power off, wait 5 seconds, then press the top button to turn your iPad back on).
  6. Go back to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services and turn location services to “On” for your iPad.  Also make sure that location services are set to “On” for your aviation app (e.g. ForeFlight Mobile).

One of the interesting things with this bug is that if you open one of the GPS manufacturers’ free apps, like the Dual GPS Status tool or Bad Elf GPS utility app, everything will appear to be functioning normally. However once you open an app like ForeFlight or WingX Pro, you will not get any location information until fixing the issue using the steps listed above.

It’s also worth pointing out that this bug does not affect pilots using the GPS information from the Stratus ADS-B receiver, or those using the internal GPS in the 3G/LTE iPads. We’re hoping that the new iOS 7 software update that Apple announced last week will fix this problem, but we have not seen or heard anything from Apple yet on whether it will be addressed.


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