There are many ways to calculate airplane weight & balance with an an iPad, but the best method we’ve found yet is with the Aviation W&B Calculator app. Available for $9.99 in the Sporty’s app store, this app makes it a breeze to perform routine weight & balance calculations. After instantly calculating takeoff/landing weight and center of gravity, the app also plots your center of gravity (CG) on an aircraft envelope. The app is especially useful when trying to maximize an airplane’s utility, allowing you to experiment with various loading configurations and instantly display the results on a CG graph.
Entering aircraft data
When you open the app for the first time you’ll see an extensive list of aircraft weight & balance templates, including those for most Cessna, Piper and Cirrus aircraft. The templates include all of the data needed to perform normal calculations, including the standard aircraft arm locations, weight limitations and each aircraft’s unique CG envelope. Don’t worry if your aircraft isn’t listed – there’s an option to ‘Build Your Airplane’ and create a custom template and CG envelope based on the numbers from your POH. And if your aircraft is similar to one of the included templates, you can quickly modify it and create a new template. You’ll also find additional templates for download on the app developer’s website created by other pilots with the app.
The next step is to enter your airplane’s unique data into the aircraft template. The app will prompt you for the tail number, basic empty weight & arm, and an optional value for start & taxi fuel burn. Each template includes the standard aircraft arm for each station measured in inches, and you can adjust these if necessary based on your particular configuration. One thing we really like here is that the app forces you to save this data, which is a big time saver for the next time you need to perform a calculation for that particular airplane.
Performing a weight & balance calculation
After saving your aircraft’s empty weight & CG, it’s time to enter the weights of the pilot, passengers, baggage and fuel. The app instantly calculates the zero fuel weight, ramp weight, takeoff weight and CG, and uses red/green color coding on the values to indicate whether or not they’re within limits. The Envelope feature brings up the aircraft’s CG graph, and plots your center of gravity on the grid. A helpful summary screen displays both the the CG graph and weight calculations, along with a small table listing max weights for the aircraft and any applicable baggage limitations. The data here is nicely organized, and you’ll find shortcuts at the top of the screen to email, save or print the information (useful for sharing with a copilot).
When you return to the app for a new calculation you can use the the Tail Number Quick Search function on the home screen to access your saved airplanes. After a few button taps you’ll be at the data entry screen again where you can adjust the weights for that day’s flight. The one feature that seems missing on the home page is a favorites list, where you could select a saved tail number and go right to the weight entry page.
The Aviation W&B Calculator is a must-have for pilots, useful for a wide range of aircraft from single-engine piston airplanes to corporate jets. It makes quick work out of weight and balance calculations, and displays the results on clear, easy to read graphs. And at $9.99 it’s a great deal too. Download the Aviation W&B Calculator app here.