Stratus mounted on the dash

Flying with Stratus: a practical perspective

9 min read

Stratus, the wireless weather receiver made for ForeFlight, has received a lot of attention since it was launched at Sun ‘n Fun in March. The promise of free in-flight weather on the iPad is exciting, but like any new technology it raises some questions as well. A lot of pilots are looking for a real world PIREP on the device to see how it really works in the cockpit.

We’ve been flying with Stratus for months now, and can share some helpful tips.

ADS-B coverage map

Current ADS-B coverage (shown here at 1500 ft. AGL) is quite good.

Reception is better than advertised

One of the main differences between Stratus and XM Weather is that Stratus uses the FAA’s network of ground-based ADS-B towers to receive weather information. The good news is that means Stratus requires no monthly subscription for weather. The bad news is that means your airplane needs to be at altitude to receive current weather, which can be a limitation compared to satellite weather. Also, some parts of the country do not yet have ADS-B coverage, so pilots should check the coverage map (at right) to see where any blank spots may be.

But while ADS-B coverage is certainly something to keep in mind, in our experience it’s not a major limitation. Coverage east of the Mississippi, through Texas and up the West Coast is generally excellent. In fact, the coverage map is conservative, and many pilots will get better performance than expected. At Sporty’s, we are 30 miles from the nearest ADS-B tower, but we receive data at just 300 ft. AGL.

Altitude helps too. ADS-B works a lot like the VOR system, so the higher you go the more stations you’ll likely receive. In cruise, it’s not unusual to get reception from 7 or 8 towers (but remember, 1 is enough). Also remember that the ADS-B system is rapidly being built out, so areas with marginal coverage are quickly being filled in. The optional external antenna will help if you live in an area of marginal coverage.

In the end, Stratus using a ground-based system to receive data has not been an issue for us. If you do most of your flying in Wyoming or Utah, an ADS-B system probably isn’t right for you just yet. But in most other locations, you can depend on reliable reception.

ADS-B tower type

ADS-B towers are laid out in a cellular pattern for best coverage.

Don’t worry about high, medium and low towers

Just like the VOR system, there are different ADS-B station types that transmit different data. For example, low-altitude stations do not transmit national radar, only regional (full details here). In addition, there is no way to determine in the cockpit which type of station you are receiving–the system simply reports station location and signal quality. This could conceivably be an issue, since you wouldn’t know what data to expect along your flight.

In practice, though, this rarely matters. With over 50 flights under our belt, we have yet to have a flight where we didn’t have national radar. That’s not a guarantee, simply our experience flying with Stratus in the real world. There’s a good reason for this result: the ADS-B ground station network is laid out in a honeycomb pattern, with high stations surrounded by low stations and medium stations in a regular array. This increases your chances of receiving a medium or high station, which are the types that transmit national radar and long range text weather.

But even in the rare cases when you may not receive a medium or high station, you will still have a higher resolution regional radar picture updated every 5 minutes and complete METARs, TAFs, TFRs and NOTAMs within 250nm. This is certainly enough for most GA airplanes–and again, it’s a worst case scenario.

Radar resolution–XM vs. regional vs. national

Another key difference between ADS-B weather and XM Weather is the resolution of the radar display. Due to bandwith limitations, the ADS-B radar is not as high a resolution. Specifically, national ADS-B radar is much blockier than XM. But regional ADS-B radar is much closer to the resolution of XM.

While we’d all love to have high resolution radar everywhere, the split between lower resolution national and higher resolution regional radar on ADS-B works quite well. Regional radar is usually shown within 250nm of your airplane, which is over an hour of flying for most GA airplanes. This is excellent for detailed avoidance, especially close to your destination. Farther out, the national radar is still very helpful for strategic planning. No datalink radar should ever be used for penetrating storms, so the end result is the same with both systems–radar is a valuable source of information that should supplement what you see with your eyes.

Three pictures tell the story:

XM vs. ADS-B radar

Side by side comparison: XM radar, ADS-B regional radar and ADS-B national radar.

Mostly the same weather info as XM

ADS-B and XM transmit the same basic information, including: radar, METARs, TAFs, TFRs, SIGMETs, AIRMETs and Pilot Reports. These are certainly the critical elements to weather flying, and what most pilots buy an in-flight weather system for in the first place. But there are a couple of minor differences. ADS-B does not receive satellite imagery or echo tops, which are both options with XM. We’d categorize this as “nice to have” information more than “must have.” In particular, satellite is only updated hourly (or possibly on the half hour), so it’s much more of a pre-flight briefing tool than an in-cockpit weather avoidance tool. Also, ADS-B does not transmit lightning data like XM. But remember that this lightning data was not developed for pilots, so it reports only ground lightning. In our experience, this is of limited value.

But ADS-B does transmit some information that XM does not. NOTAMs is a great addition, for example. You can get updated airport information in flight with Stratus by tapping the Airports tab in ForeFlight, then the NOTAMs button. ADS-B also transmits special use airspace (SUA) information, including effective times, altitudes and frequencies.

Stratus weather receiver suction cup mount

The optional suction cup mount for Stratus improves reception and virtually eliminates overheating.

Where to mount it

Since Stratus is totally wire-free, with an internal battery and no external antennas, pilots can place Stratus almost anywhere in the cockpit. The perfect location will balance three factors:

  1. Stratus looks down to the ground for ADS-B data.
  2. Stratus looks up to the satellites for GPS.
  3. Stratus can overheat if left in direct sun for extended periods.

Every airplane is different, so the best advice is to try many different locations in the airplane you fly to find one that works best. For example, many Cirrus pilots have success with Stratus in the glove box on the right side of the panel. Because the airplane is composite, Stratus still gets excellent reception in this location. An all-metal airplane like a Cessna or a Piper may need a more direct view, like the glare shield. If this gets too hot for Stratus (see next tip), other options include the co-pilot’s seat, a back seat, the baggage compartment or even the floor (ADS-B reception is often good here, believe it or not). You can easily see whether a location will work using the Stratus Status page in ForeFlight Mobile. This page shows the number of ADS-B stations being received as well as the GPS signal quality at the bottom. Move the box around and see what these two indicators say.

What about jets or airplanes with a heated windshield? We’ve flown Stratus in numerous high altitude airplanes, and the altitude itself does not have an effect. However, the heated windshields found on most turboprops and jets will degrade performance on both the GPS and the ADS-B receiver. In many cases, Stratus is still completely usable–we’ve seen GPS accuracy, for example, go from 1m to 6m when under a heated windshield. This is still extremely accurate, so the slightly worse performance has no impact on flying.

If the heated windshield does seem to be causing serious interference with Stratus, try a side window, which is often not heated. If your airplane has a DV window (the little triangle window on the pilot’s side), this can be an excellent place for Stratus, since it has a clear view of both the ground and the sky and the window is not heated. The optional suction cup mount is another excellent option, as it improves reception and virtually eliminates overheating.

We’ve flown Stratus in a wide variety of airplanes: Citabria, Cessna 162/172/182, Piper Warrior, Mooney, Piper Aztec, Pilatus, Citation and Lear 60 to name a few. We haven’t found an airplane yet where Stratus simply won’t work–it just takes some experimentation.

Be aware of possible overheating

Just like the iPad, Stratus includes a large lithium ion battery which can overheat if exposed to extreme temperatures. To protect itself, Stratus will shut itself down before it gets too hot and show the pilot an “Stratus HOT” message in ForeFlight. To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea to avoid direct sunlight for long periods of time. Half an hour on the dash will not cause Stratus to overheat, but if you’re flying two hours directly into the sun, it’s a good idea to put Stratus in a different location. This has not been a regular issue in our flight testing, but it can occur; it’s just something to be aware of. In general, you should treat Stratus like you treat your iPad–for example, don’t leave it in the airplane if you tie down outside.

Touch screen makes a difference

Some weather data is simply easier to see on an iPad. It may sound obvious, but we’ve flown numerous trips in airplanes with both panel-mounted weather and Stratus. In most cases, we ended up using the iPad to view weather. It’s simply easier to tap on a SIGMET and read the pop-up box than it is to scroll around on a panel-mounted MFD. PIREPs are also great on the iPad, not to mention the ability to do “rubber band” flight planning around weather systems, right in ForeFlight.

Overall, Stratus simply works. After an initial flight or two to find the right location and to get comfortable with it, Stratus stays out of the way and reliably delivers GPS and weather data. There’s no setup or tricks to learn–just turn it on and go flying.

For more information on Stratus, visit

Watch our 6-minute video on “Getting started with Stratus” below:

83 replies
  1. Steve R.
    Steve R. says:

    Having an GPS antenna port for using an external GPS antenna would be a major improvement since you could place the Stratus in a cool location and out of the way. It already has a feature for an external ADS-B antenna. With both external antennas (GPS and ADS-B) it could be wired for auto power on/off. Out of sight, nice and cool, few wires in the way, etc.

    • Steven Green
      Steven Green says:

      Here’s one idea that I’ve used before with the box–I put it under the seat and use the external ADSB antenna. Then I use my Dual XGPS 150 bluetooth GPS for remote GPS.

      • Steve R.
        Steve R. says:

        Yeh, but why waste the GPS in Stratus? I also have the Dual “Puck” and it is excellent. But, it is just another gadget to put somewhere and power.

  2. Steve
    Steve says:

    I agree with the previous post, an external GPS antenna port would make a huge improvement in this product. It is the sole reason I haven’t ordered…two of them…

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      In my opinion, the fact that it doesn’t need an external GPS antenna, is why its so appealing. I hate wires in the cockpit and the internal antenna works so well in different places in the airplane that there is no need for an external option. Plus, the ADS-B FIS is the real selling point here and the GPS is just a nice bonus.

    • Alan MacDonald
      Alan MacDonald says:

      I agree. This product need an external GPS antenna. I lost GPS signal several times today during my flight. My bluetooth GPS works a lot better.

  3. Mike
    Mike says:

    Anyone been using it inside an aircraft with an electrically heated windshield? I’ve found the windshield heating elements block my iPad’s GPS antenna, so I went out and purchased a Bad Elf external GPS antenna to mount close to the part of the windshield that is not heated and it works like a charm that way. Just curious if the heating elements will do the same to the ADS B antenna? Or the Stratus GPS antenna? Or both? Or if the unit might work if I just set it on the side panel below the unseated windshield panel? Thoughts?

  4. John Zimmerman
    John Zimmerman says:

    Mike, it depends on the airplane. We’ve flown it successfully in a Pilatus PC-12 and a Falcon 900. But some Lears are an issue. The side window does work very well.

  5. Alan MacDonald
    Alan MacDonald says:

    I flew with Stratus for the first time today. Stratus is free ADS-B weather that works with ForeFlight on your iPad or iPhone. It also has a built-in GPS. I took some screen shots for you to see. I also listed some pros and cons as I see the device after one day of using it.

    – You can connect multiple devices to Stratus at the same time using wifi. Everyone on the flight deck can have an iPhone or iPad running ForeFlight at the same time connected to one Stratus device (Bluetooth GPS will only sync to one iPad at a time). Even someone in the back could keep track of the flight if he had an iPad
    – Stratus has a built in GPS, so no need for Bluetooth GPS
    – Updated weather while you are flying
    – Stratus is Free (unlike XM)
    – Destination weather during your flight. You don’t have to wait until you are in range of ATIS.
    – Radar image for the entire country (not just 180nm miles in front of you like you see from onboard radar)

    – Cost $800
    – Does not receive weather very well on the ground. You will most likely have to be airborne.
    – Radar images are low quality and pixilated (better than nothing)
    – Not a substitute for onboard weather radar. A lot of what we painted with ships radar did not show up on the low resolution Stratus radar image
    – Weather is not real time. It only updates about every 10 minutes (when you are getting a signal)
    – Signal comes and goes. You may not have updated weather for several minutes to maybe an hour (an external antenna may help. You can buy one for an extra $60)
    – Only coverage in the US
    – Only some of the weather features are available through ADS-B (no Satellite images, winds/temp aloft, tops, etc)
    – It over heated sitting on the glareshield, but that seemed to be the only place it received GPS signal.
    – I lost GPS signal a few times. My Bluetooth GPS receiver works better than this $800 box
    – Much larger than a Bluetooth GPS

  6. Nader Balata (@NaderBalata)
    Nader Balata (@NaderBalata) says:

    Does anyone know who wrote this article? Please let me know.



    I am very interested in acquiring the Garmin Pilot software, but I live in Canada, and it seems impossible to download it from AppStore.

    Does it mean that it is not available in Canada ?

    Thank you very much

  8. Claude Allen
    Claude Allen says:

    You can have weather on the ground if you have a 3 or 4G ipad! What I do is turn off WiFi on the ground. Select Radar on the Foreflight Map option same as you do with Stratus. I now receive Internet weather provided by the Foreflight App. On climbout when everything is under control, I go out of Foreflight and turn Wifi back on. The ipad automatically sees the Stratus signal. Then I select Foreflight. For a second or two I will see the crosshatch on the map until Stratus locks on to a station.

    My biggist gripe with Foreflight is there is no Track Up option, so the weather you see on the ipad is not what you see on the aircraft courseline. Hopefully, Foreflight will come up with a Track Up option soon.

  9. Steve
    Steve says:

    Yes, I have had same issue. My solution in my Globe Swift is to use external ADS antenna and put the Stratus in covered baggage area. I use the DUAL “hockey puck” GPS. I power the Stratus with ships power (12v) and use the “auto power” feature. Thus, stays cool and it automatically comes on when ships power is applied.

  10. Nader Balata (@NaderBalata)
    Nader Balata (@NaderBalata) says:

    Question for everyone and anyone? What would be the 5 top reasons anyone would choose to install ADS-B now rather than in 2020?

  11. Jim Nohlquist
    Jim Nohlquist says:

    Considering the Stratus for use in a Turbo Commander.
    Heated w/s. Mostly on East coast and Calif.
    This would be mostly for avoidance of TRW’s and not “picking my way through”

    My on board radar is useless and for our kind of operation, it’s not cost effective to replace it.

    The plan is to give a lot wider birth when flying in areas of cell activity or just not fly.

    Any advice on the use of this Stratus system ?

    Thanks ……. in advance.


    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Jim, Stratus works well with most heated windshields. Some larger Citations and Falcons can be troublesome, but your Commander should be fine. We’ve flown with Stratus a lot in a Pilatus and some King Airs with good success.

  12. Bill Tucker
    Bill Tucker says:

    -The Stratus/ADS B offers Pireps, Notams, Sigment/Airmets, Ceilings and Winds Aloft that are not part of the XM Aviator Lite package.
    -The battery life of the Stratus is equivalent to the battery life of the iPad. My experience was 6 plus hours on both.
    -Easy. No wires.

    -ADS B coverage is currently limited. At 12,000 feet you’ll not get any coverage in the central US as depicted on the map. For example, a trip from Cincinnati to Oklahoma City is without coverage once you pass Paducah, KY until you get to Tulsa. If you’re flying is in the areas depicted, you’ll love this product.

  13. Bill Jones
    Bill Jones says:

    I have a 1963 Beech Debonair 35-B33. I live in Savannah, Ga and fly in the Southeast. I have problems with the Stratus overheating on the glare shield also. Like Steve (Globe Swift) I have found using the external antenna and placing the Stratus device on the ledge under my legs keeps it from over heating and I still get the GPS signals. For the iPad, I must keep it out of direct sunlight in these hot summer months or it over heats.

    But, even with the heating I am most happy with the Stratus and ADS-B information and use it every flight to keep track of weather.

  14. Nader Balata (@NaderBalata)
    Nader Balata (@NaderBalata) says:

    Question for everyone and anyone? What would be the 5 top reasons anyone would choose to install ADS-B now rather than in 2020?

  15. Lisa W
    Lisa W says:

    I’m looking for a comparison of the Garmin GDL 39 vs. Stratus? Anyone seen or done a comparison? I have Garmin in the airplane, but use and like Foreflight so lean towards Stratus. I have not used the Garmin iPad app. Is there any reason to get the Garmin instead? I have a 530 and GTX330 (not ES) in the airplane.

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Lisa, we’ve flown with both and they are both excellent products. The main feature differences are that the GDL 39 shows traffic (although ADS-B traffic is somewhat limited), but does not come standard with a battery. The Stratus does not show traffic, but it does include a built-in battery so it’s totally wireless.

      At the end of the day, they both provide free weather and GPS to the iPad and they’re both $799. I would let the app drive the decision, not hardware. Pick the app you like, then choose the hardware that goes with it.

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      The GDL 39 only works for Garmin portable units and their iPad/Android app. If you were hoping to get ADS-B weather on your 530, you would need the GDL 90, i believe. The Garmin Pilot App comes with a free 30 day trial so be sure to use it before you decided. If you are already a ForeFlight subscribers, it makes the most sense to use Stratus.

  16. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Thanks Chris & John, very helpful. I wasn’t sure if there was an upgrade path from the GDL39, sounds like not. I like Foreflght and have been using it for a long time so will probably go with Stratus. Then just upgrade the 530 to whatever is best when the
    mandate arrives. Thanks!

  17. Arthur McGuire
    Arthur McGuire says:

    I like the GPS reception on my I Pad using the DUAL “hockey puck” blue tooth interface.
    Can I continue to use the DUAL for GPS reception and the Stratus receiver for WiFi ADS-B weather concurrently on my I Pad using the ForeFlight application ?

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      You can do that, Arthur, since the Dual uses Bluetooth and the Stratus uses WiFi. Obviously, Stratus has a built-in GPS, so you don’t have to do that, but if you want to you can.

  18. Steve
    Steve says:

    I use my Dual GPS with Stratus but the battery life is limited. I power Stratus from ship’s power and use the external ADS-B antenna. I have “mounted” the Stratus in my baggage compartment where GPS signal is not available and use auto power-up. Now, if only Stratus had an external GPS antenna connection I could use Stratus GPS. Hopefully, increasing competition in this market will make improvements.

  19. Colby
    Colby says:

    I recently got a stratus and used it in several aircraft (pilatus, king air) and it worked great. However, recently tried it in my citation excel and the adsb portion worked well, but the GPS had no reception. I read the problems with the heated windshield and tried to hold it in the side window and still had no position information. Anyone else have this problem with the excel????

    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      I tried the Stratus today in our Citation Sovereign. I’m using the external antenna for ADS-B. The GPS only worked for a short while. I’m going to need to find another solution for the internal GPS.

  20. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    Stratus has a severe limitation with regard to overheating and Stratus seems to be ignoring or underplaying it! My first unit was replaced by Sporty’s as Stratus suggested it was overheating too easily but the replacement unit exhibits the same problem. Stratus tech people agree with hokey fixes like covering it with wite paper (still doesnt help) or mounting it in the side window (helps a little).

    Stratus should supply the external ads-b antenna at no charge, at least, and should acknowledge that, although the unit appears to be designed for glareshield use, AT NO TIME SHOULD IT BE PLACED THERE!

    I use the unit in a Bonanza (copilot seat is best option if it happens to be on the shady side of the aircraft) and in a Citation, where I mounted it with Velcro on the side window, bottom side out, but it still overheated, even in an air conditioned cockpit with a window that was -40 on the outside.

    The most constructive comment that I have read dealt with powering the unit remotely, thus over-riding the lithium battery… I had assumed that the internal components, other than the battery, that appeared to have a very limited operating temperature range (max 35C), were the problem.

    Stratus needs to be more upfront with the operating limitations of the unit. The instructions say “place on the glare shield”… They left out the Do Not! In addition, if the writer who suggested supplying external power to the unit when operating is correct, Stratus should supply the DC suppy cord with the unit at no charge, and recommend it be used to prevent overheating of the battery.

    I am happy with the weather information that the unit supplies but Stratus needs to step up to the bat and try to make it functional and reliable!

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Brian, there’s nothing unique about the way Stratus handles heat. It has a lithium battery just like your iPad, and there are certain limitations in place to protect it from overheating and damaging the unit. The best advice is to treat Stratus like your iPad–keep it off the glare shield and take it inside when you park on the ramp.

      I’ve flown extensively with Stratus, and I haven’t found an airplane yet that it won’t work in. It’s just a matter of finding a place that balances heat, GPS reception and ADS-B reception. That could be a back seat, a side window or even the floor in some cases. Note that direct sunlight isn’t usually an issue–it’s when Stratus is heated from below (like a hot glare shield) that presents a problem.

      In my experience, the RAM Mount solves any overheating issues.

      Sorry you’ve had some issues, and we do appreciate your comments.

  21. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    Commenting on my own post, I am now not sure if remote power will relieve the overheating problem as the poster who was doing that also mounted the unit in his baggage compartment, where it did npt receive a gps signal, and used an external adsB antenna (not practical in a Pressurized aircraft)

  22. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    John.. I obviously agree with the “keep it off the glareshield comment” even though thats where the instructions say to place it… I didnt want the clunky mount in tne Citation cockpit and felt that attaching it with velcro, vertically, to the side window (thus with a little airspace between the two) in an air-conditioned cockpit and low OAT would do the trick, but it didnt… I have not used the replacement unit in the Citation yet but will give it another try… Perhaps the first truly was defective.. Would just like Stratus to “own” the problem and provide trouble free operation.

    BTW, I mount the IPad, with velcro, on a rosen sun visor in the center of the Citation windshield and it works perfectly for the whole flight.

  23. raycrawford
    raycrawford says:


  24. Joe. Brown
    Joe. Brown says:

    One solution for the overheating problem I have used in a Cessna 182 is to loosely wrap the Stratus in a white paper towel when I put it on glare shield. The white helps knock the heat down. All that black on the glare shield and the black Stratus absorbers a lot of heat in sunlight.

  25. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    White towel? I was thinking of something like that.. Perhaps spraying it occasionally with water, sort of like an evaporative cooler. Will give that a try.

  26. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    At AOPA… Got a suggestion regarding overheating from the foreflight guys that I had not heard before… Use Power Saving mode that reduces wifi range… My really tech buddy said that could really help reduce the power consumption. Tried it leaving Palm Springs (gave it the real test by actually daring to put the Stratus on the Bonanza glareshield… Not a brutally hot day, but warm)… it actually made it all the way through the Banning Pass before it overheated (thats about 20 mins)… At AOPA I also found out that the Garmin GDL39 does not have an internal battery… I have a feeling that the internal battery and the power required for wifi, are the main sources of the overheating problem… and using it in the aircraft.

  27. Sam Bates
    Sam Bates says:

    I bought the ram mount and while I have not flown very much with the stratus I do like having it on the side window of my 182. So far I like the stratus. My second flight it had issues getting a GPS signal but it found it self and life was good. I fly out of Condon Oregon and I am lucky to get signal while I am on the ground. My only complaint is that I did not buy the stratus sooner.

    • Carl Geisert
      Carl Geisert says:

      Sam – you are getting good enough GPS reception on the side window without a clear view of the sky? Do you have it mounted vertically or with teh top surface facing up?

  28. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    I bought an external battery pack to use in flight with the Stratus to see if that would reduce the overheating problem due to the “exothermal” characteristic of the Stratus battery during normal. Surprisingly I did not need to use the external battery on a trip to Mexico last week as the Stratus did ot overheat, for the first time!

    I had previously tried locating the stratus on the side window of the Citation, with velcro, to no avail. This time, I velcro’d it on the forward side of a Rosen sun visor, facing the windshield… This was a convenient location being on the reverse side of the visor that I have mounted my IPad to… I did not expect it to work, but it did, for three legs and a total of perhaps 5 hours.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Hi, just wondering how did it go in mexico with the ADB-S , and weather? im mostly interested how low into mexico did you still get weather?


  29. Carl Geisert
    Carl Geisert says:

    I have been having issues around Chandler Az airport (KCHD) with GPS reception. The Stratus accuracy will decrease from 1m to 20m then “no fix”. It can take several minutes for it to get connected again. Seems to work outside of this area. It is happening on both a C172 and C182. I will contiue to try different locations inside to see if that helps.

  30. Sam Bates
    Sam Bates says:

    Carl, with it on the side it seems to work most of the time but I have had it lose its location and not find it again. I mount the unit with the charge port up. Does any one have any idea if matters which way it is mounted?
    I have tried to turn the option to “use GPS” off and then on again. One time this worked then I tried it again and it did not work for me. It seems like if I have GPS before I take off then it will work for all of the flight. If i wait and turn the unit on if flight it will take a long time to find a location if it finds it at all. I would be with you asking if any one else has this problem or do I need to send the unit back to Sporty’s?

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Sam, do you have the latest version of the firmware (v2.2)? That improves the GPS performance somewhat. But in my experience, once it has a GPS fix, it shouldn’t lose it.

      • Sam Bates
        Sam Bates says:

        As far as I know I do. I did update it a month ago. I don’t have it here at my house to check for sure. How would I check with out the stratus here?

  31. Michael Williams
    Michael Williams says:

    I am receiving a Stratus as a gift. But I am having significant concerns over this unit, primarily the overheating. I am a CFI who flies 6-8 hours a day in Cessna 172s and Piper Seminoles, so the glare shield obviously is not the place for this unit. If this unit does not receive reliable GPS or ADS-B signals, will I be able to return this product for a full refund? If not, I will have this order cancelled and stick with the Dual.

  32. Carl
    Carl says:

    Mike – if you ordered from sportys, they will give a full refund up to a year from your purchase. I finally gave up due to gps reception issues and the anticipation of overheating issues next summer here in Phoenix. I bought a dual for GPS.

  33. Geoff Shanen
    Geoff Shanen says:


    Hey there I fly a King Air 200 and so far Stratus seems to work fine on a piece of Velcro sitting on the right side of the windshield on the top of the glare panel. I have noted a few minutes of loss of signal from time to time, but it usually is only a few seconds.

  34. Dan Fleming
    Dan Fleming says:

    VERY DISAPPOINTED. We fly a learjet 31A.In my 2 day/4 flight experience since purchasing the stratus appareos, the unit rarely ever has GPS or ADS-B reception. Totally unreliable. Experimented placing the unit all over the cockpit and even tried an unheated side window in the back with little to NO luck. Sending my unit back to sporty’s for a refund ASAP.

  35. Steve
    Steve says:

    Dan: I got my Stratus very early on. First thing I noticed is that I needed the external ADS-B to get good coverage. Next thing was poor GPS coverage. I told the Stratus folks that it needed an external GPS antenna capability. Also, if placed in sun even with good ventilation it overheated. The external GPS antenna would prevent that as you could put the unit out of the sun. Sure, I can use an external GPS (Dual) for ForeFlight but that defeats the purpose of having the Stratus.

    So, I have had to compromise with location and protecting from heat — not an ideal situation.

  36. David Smith
    David Smith says:

    I’ve flown with Foreflight (with an iPad 2) for 18months and been very satisfied. Would an external GPS + iPad Foreflight be a good alternative to Stratus? I’m sure there must be a good reason to spend $800 on Stratus but I don’t see it just yet.

  37. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    I have come to terms with the Sratus… I would have dumped it some time ago were it not for its operation with Foreflight… Weather is now cooler and it is operating quite well, but I have to make sure to keep it out of the sun… Usually vecroed to a side window ion the shady side of the aircraft…. GPS sometimes takes 5 or 10 to display stations ( the devices page shows what is happening) but rarely loses position… The adsB works fairly well also… It would be nice if Stratus would address the overheating problem before summer rolls around … It really is a poor design with regard to heat dissipation… I now carry an external battery (about $30) so, in warm weather, I can reduce the draw on the internal battery which is apparently an exothermic (heat producing) process for the Lithium battery… You may have noted that the Garmin AdsB unit does not have an internal battery!

  38. Bill Hobson
    Bill Hobson says:

    I’m now on my third Stratus (0ne) and I agree that Appareo is not “owning up” to this overheating issue. The only place I can get a reliable GPS lock is on the glareshield even though I have an airplane with a composite cabin roof. They advertise the Stratus “TWO” as having “improved GPS reception” but won’t sya what that is and won’t allow a customer who is having a problem to exchange the “one” for the “Two” and pay the difference. The company needs to raise the bar on caring for its users. Now that we’re semi-dependant on the Stratus for traffic info, we really can’t afford to lose the GPS lock (which will undoubtedly cause ForeFlight to stop displaying nearby traffic). I’d have to rate this whole product about a 2 on a scale of 1 to 5. ForFlight is too good a company to continue to endorse a procudt that can’t hack it.

  39. Steve Roth
    Steve Roth says:

    I love ForeFlight and have been buying from Sporty’s for a long time. I got one of the first Stratus 1 units and I made early comments on GPS coverage, the need for an external GPS antenna, etc. with the Stratus 1. When the Stratus 2 came out, I asked the company (Appareo) if current Stratus users would get a price break on the Stratus 2 (Example: I had a SPOT Messenger 1 and SPOT gave me an “incentive” to get a SPOT 2). The answer was no.

    I have had continued issues with GPS lock/coverage and over-heating issues with my Stratus 1. Also, in my view, the external GPS antenna was essential. Based on the external GPS anntenna on the Startus 2 I suppose they agree.

    Of course, the latest sponsored magazine articles on the Stratus 2 brag about all of its features. What about those of us who suffered thru being “Test Dummies” for the Stratus 1’s?

  40. Tim Percarpio
    Tim Percarpio says:

    I, too, love ForeFlight, but they’re going to have to lean on Appareo to get them to solve their problems or they will start to lose customers. There is simply too much competition out there. I keep waiting for Stratus to live up to its claims before I make the plunge.

  41. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    Everyone is echoing the same comments, especially regarding the ability to dissipate heat (see my last comments of Dec 8).. I am glad everyone has the same positive feelings about foreflight support and negative about Stratus Support (see Bill Hobsons blog today).
    I spoke directly, again, with the Stratus people at the helicopter convention in February about the need for a redsign,, fan etc., and again they acted like it was the first they knew of it! Then, a month or so laTer, behold, Stratus 2! The right thing to do would have been to man up and offer an exchange for $100 or so (the probable cost of the actual components).. Stratus would have a lot of fans! I really don’t think Stratus reads this blog!

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Brian, thanks for the feedback–the Stratus team is reading and paying attention. I simply don’t view Stratus 1 as an “outdated” or a “test unit.” I’ve been flying with it for over a year in a lot of different aircraft and I still am. After one or two flights, I found the right spot I mount it and haven’t had any GPS or heat problems. For me, I like the suction cup mount in a side window. Works great in almost every airplane I’ve flown.

      In fact, for a lot of pilots, I think Stratus 1 is still the right buy (over Stratus 2). Just like my iPad 2 wasn’t made obsolete by the latest one, Stratus 1 is not worthless simply because there’s a new model. Appareo will continue to improve and support it (see the traffic addition for an example), and Sporty’s will continue to sell it for a long time. For those that want to trade up, I’ve seen a lot of Stratus 1s selling for $500+ on eBay. That’s a lot more than any trade in program would ever offer.

  42. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    Could be John..don’t know if sellers are getting out or trading up.. Ebay selling prices, without the mount, probably less than $500. Stratus was a great idea, just needed some improvements…. If not, the fan etc would not have been part of Stratus 2…

  43. Brian Conway
    Brian Conway says:

    I think the blog is being hacked.. Keep getting notifications of added comments but there are none… Message includes another message about weightlifting equipment!

  44. Kent Magnuson
    Kent Magnuson says:

    have tried stratus recently. you gotta be kidding. dont waste $900. get something with xm so you can have needed data

  45. Mark Rogers
    Mark Rogers says:

    I just got a Garmin GDL88 adsb out transceiver installed in our Mooney. While flying the Mooney with ADSB “green” and good traffic on the GNS530W why do I not get any traffic on my Stratus (first generation) and IPAD on my yoke? Seems to me, that if I am “lighting up” ground stations with the gdl88, I should be receiving the same traffic that I see on the GNS530W

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      You should, Mark. Here are a couple of thoughts:

      – Do you have the traffic layer turned on in ForeFlight (selected from the menu at the top left of the Maps page)?
      – Is your Stratus upgraded to the latest firmware version (2.3)?
      – Is ForeFlight updated (latest version is 5.4)?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] For more information about ADS-B station types, see […]

  2. […] Flying with Stratus: a practical perspective […]

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  4. […] we flew the XGPS170 paired with WingX Pro side-by-side with another iPad connected to the Stratus ADS-B receiver and ForeFlight. We flew locally in the Cincinnati area, where ADS-B coverage is excellent. Just […]

  5. […] we flew the XGPS170 paired with WingX Pro side-by-side with another iPad connected to the Stratus ADS-B receiver and ForeFlight. We flew locally in the Cincinnati area, where ADS-B coverage is excellent. Just […]

  6. […] with Stratus and ForeFlight to be about as easy as it can get. For more information on Stratus, see this pilot report and this […]

  7. […] with Stratus and ForeFlight to be about as easy as it can get. For more information on Stratus, see this pilot report and this […]

  8. […] will also display current TFRs in the air when connected to an ADS-B weather receiver, like the Stratus, Garmin GDL-39 or SkyRadar. The interesting thing with this data stream is that you will also see […]

  9. […] for hands-on experience with Stratus and ForeFlight?  This article from Sporty’s speaks to the following […]

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