The arms race continues. Fresh on the heels of updates from WingX and ForeFlight, Garmin has introduced the latest version of its flagship Garmin Pilot app. Version 5.1 adds a number of new features that are pulled right from Garmin’s panel-mount GTN series, adding sophisticated in-flight features.
Here are the highlights from this latest update:
- Terrain and obstacles. Garmin’s portable and panel GPSs have offered powerful terrain alerts for a long time, with intuitive and easy-to-read screens. This technology has been imported almost exactly, and the result is a comprehensive new terrain and obstacle package for Pilot. There is a dedicated Terrain page (like Garmin portable GPSs), plus the option to overlay terrain on the main moving map page. There are also pop-up alerts that warn of nearby terrain or obstacles no matter what screen you’re on–a great feature. Interestingly, Garmin offers three different terrain resolutions for download. The highest resolution is 5 arc seconds, which is quite detailed, but requires 613MB. For slower internet connections or for iPads with less storage space, the low resolution option is presented at 79 arc seconds resolution and only requires 6MB.
- ATC preferred routes. Ask any IFR pilot–planning a trip to a new destination can be stressful. Part of the issue is trying to guess what route to file since often, the correct route seems to be random. With Garmin’s new preferred routes tool, it’s a lot easier. The Trip planning page has been renamed File & Brief, and from this page pilots can tap the Routes button for a drop-down list of suggested routes. This list is made up of historical route clearances, so you’re seeing what ATC cleared, not what pilots filed. You can sort the route suggestions by altitude, aircraft, date or popularity. Tap a route to add it to your current flight plan.
- Runways on SIDs/STARs. At some busy airports, instrument arrivals and departures specify a particular runway as a part of the procedure. Now, Garmin Pilot allows you to add this to your route when entering a SID or STAR in your route. This makes it easier to fly these complicated procedures–no more making up waypoints.
- Download enhancements. This may not be an exciting feature for some pilots, but Garmin has added a number of performance enhancements to the download process. Overall, the process of downloading new charts is faster and easier, which is a really nice upgrade. After all, you’ll be downloading charts every month, so it’s a key function to get right. Garmin Pilot now allows you to pause your downloads and continue later, switch networks during the download process and it will automatically retry if a network error occurs.
Garmin also announced some slightly modified subscription plans as a part of this release:
- Standard – this is the same package that has been available for some time now. It includes sectionals, en route IFR charts, approach plates, topographic map and obstacles (shown on map, but not color-coded). $74.99/year.
- VFR Premium – this adds geo-referenced SafeTaxi airport diagrams, plus terrain maps and alerts. $49.99/year additional.
- IFR Premium – adds geo-referenced SafeTaxi and approach plates, plus terrain and alerts. $74.99/year.
In addition to the iOS app update, Garmin also released version 2.6 of its Android app (our pick for top Android aviation app). This is a smaller update than the iOS app received, but it does show Garmin’s continuing commitment to the platform. New features include multi-layer maps, allowing pilots to view radar, TFRs and satellite imagery at the same time on a map. The new preferred routes tool that is in the iOS app has been added as well, making for easier flight planning.
For more information about the Android app, click here.