The SXAR1 receiver has been a popular accessory for pilots flying with ForeFlight over the last year, providing high quality in-flight weather with coast-to-coast coverage from SiriusXM’s satellites. While the weather is the most important feature, many pilots have also come to enjoy a little music during long flights. That option came to ForeFlight earlier this year, and it’s a surprisingly nice upgrade. We tested it out on a few recent flights, and found that after some setup the system is easy and rewarding.
If this is the first time you’ve used the SXAR1 with your iPad, go to the Settings app, then Bluetooth. Tap on the SXAR1 line to pair the device with your iPad. This enables the SXAR1 to deliver GPS position and weather to ForeFlight, but it also allows you to set up audio options.
After pairing the SXAR1 with your iPad, open ForeFlight and go to the Maps page. Tap the gear symbol at the top left of the screen, then tap SiriusXM SXAR1. That will bring up the status page, which shows the battery condition, signal status, age of weather, and more. There’s also an Audio line – tap that to set up a new audio connection.
The next page shows the instructions for setting up an audio connection. It can seem a little confusing at first, but the key thing to remember is that your audio device (aviation headset, audio panel with Bluetooth, etc.) pairs directly to the SXAR1 – not your iPad. Your iPad is only used to control the SiriusXM Radio and to set up the audio connection. Make sure your audio device is in pairing mode, then tap on that device in the ForeFlight menu.
We tried it with both a Bose A20 headset and a PS Engineering audio panel and both worked well. Since the SXAR1 can only connect to one audio device at a time, we preferred the audio panel. That allowed everyone on the intercom system to hear the music; the Bose headset only allowed the person wearing that headset to hear music. Not all audio panels have Bluetooth, but if you have this option we recommend it.
Once you’re set up, you can use the same SXAR1 menu in ForeFlight to control channels and volume. This makes it quick to change settings, and is easy enough to use that a passenger can control things.
Tap on the Channels button in the SiriusXM SXAR1 menu to browse through the options. First you’ll see the categories, and then the specific channels. You can also search for a channel. There are over 150 options, including an incredible variety of music, but we also listed to parts of the Indianapolis 500 and a baseball game. There’s something for everyone.
The SXAR1 is $499 right now, but there’s an additional $200 rebate through the end of 2017. SiriusXM Weather is $39.99/month, and Radio can be added for $10.99/month.