iPad power management
An iPad with a dead battery is about as useful as runway left behind, so you should make it one of your preflight tasks to ensure you have a fully charged battery. The iPad battery is the Lithium-Ion type, which means you don’t have to run the battery all the way down before charging each time (like what was recommended with the old Ni-Cad batteries.) Regardless of battery level, you should make it standard practice to charge the night before you fly.
Apple states that the battery life of a brand-new iPad is about 10 hours, and we’ve found this to be a realistic number. You can also increase the battery life in between charges by following these simple tips:
- Put the iPad in standby mode when not in use (single tap of the top right button)
- Turn off 3G Cell Data, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not needed
- Lower the screen brightness
- Close out apps that aren’t needed which are running in the background
- Enable the Auto-Lock setting to allow iPad to sleep during periods of inactivity
Also keep in mind that using an external GPS like the Bad Elf or Dual Bluetooth GPS will shorten battery life, by roughly 30% in our experience. If your flights tend to be fairly long, or span multiple legs in a day without access to a wall charger, there are still several options to keep the iPad battery going strong.
First, you can use a USB 12-24v Charger and tap into the power from your aircraft’s electrical system. This is a 2.1 amp charger designed specifically for iPads (not all 3rd-party 12v adapters will charge an iPad, so look closely). Another option is to carry a Backup Battery. When fully charged, this can provide an extra 15 hours of additional run time to your battery. Your iPad will connect to both of these power options via the standard USB cable.
I keep mine plugged in most of time. The new 2 amp USB chargers do a lot better job keeping the charge going up.
I have found that plugging in my iPad 2 into an external source (battery or power point) will some times result in high static on my com channels. The problem is VERY sensitive to the position of the cable. Move the cable and/or the battery and it will turn on/ off. I pull the plug during high workload times like take off or an instrument approach.
When using the iPad with an external GPS device and at high screen brightness, the charge state of the iPad will slowly decrease even if it is connected to a 14/28 VDC charger rated at 2.1 amps. The charger should be connected well before the charge state of the iPad drops significantly (especially on a long flight).