What was the hottest story at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012? No contest–the iPad was on the minds of pilots everywhere, from Cub owners to jet pilots. Whether it was updates to popular apps, new ADS-B receivers or the show specials, the show grounds were buzzing with news about the iPad and how it’s changing the way people fly.
There was a lot to see, but here’s our list of the 8 most interesting iPad stories to come out of the 2012 show:
Garmin goes iPad. Avionics giant Garmin came to the show with a slew of iPad products, making clear that they view the segment as a serious part of their future product line. GLO, the company’s new Bluetooth GPS receiver for iPad (and Android) makes use of both the US’s GPS and Russia’s GLONASS satellite systems for faster lock-on times. The small unit was on display and available for purchase, starting at $99. In addition, Garmin introduced the GDL 39 ADS-B weather and traffic receiver. For $799, pilots can view radar, text weather and ADS-B traffic (where available) on either an iPad, Android or portable GPS. Finally, Garmin was also showing off the latest version of their Garmin Pilot app. The most exciting addition is the option to view a split screen display in either portrait or landscape mode, handy for viewing a sectional and approach plate at the same time. Garmin also cut the price of the app for a limited time to just $49.99 for the standard subscription.
- New ADS-B receivers. Seemingly every aisle had a new company showing off a prototype of a new ADS-B receiver, as pilots are flocking to subscription-free in-flight weather delivered over the FAA’s growing network of ground stations. Two notable introductions came from Dual Electronics, maker of the best-selling iPad GPS, and Sagetech, a company best-known for military products. App compatibility is a key issue with many of these products, as none of the newly-announced receivers work with ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot. But many do work with WingX, and they are packing a lot of features into smaller and smaller cases. Look for more news to come in the iPad weather market.
New Bad Elf GPS. Bad Elf was one of the first companies to capitalize on the iPad boom, with their popular plug-in GPS. At Oshkosh the company was demoing their latest product, the Bad Elf GPS Pro. In contrast to their existing product, the Pro is wireless, with a Bluetooth connection and a built-in battery that lasts up to 36 hours. One unique feature of the Pro is its built-in LCD screen, so pilots can view basic information without connecting to an iPad. It also includes some nice data-logging features, and allows for up to 5 devices to connect simultaneously.
- Stratus gets updates. This popular ADS-B receiver from Sporty’s, Appareo and ForeFlight was one of the first on the market, and was still one of the hottest products at Oshkosh. The three companies showed off some new features at Oshkosh, including a RAM Suction Cup Mount that improves ADS-B and GPS reception, and is ideal for jets or airplanes with heated windshields. Version 2.1 of the firmware is also available now, providing longer battery life and other performance enhancements. This product seems to be maturing as the thousands of units in the field start logging some serious hours.
- Advisors come to ForeFlight. Just in time for AirVenture, top-dog ForeFlight unveiled version 4.6 of their ForeFlight Mobile app, available as a free update from the App Store. The most interesting features in this release have to do with pre-flight planning on the Maps page, including Route Advisor and Altitude Advisor. These buttons help pilots plan their flights more precisely and efficiently by choosing the most likely route and the most fuel efficient altitude to fly. The continuous innovation with apps like ForeFlight is a major benefit of the iPad that many pilots are now starting to appreciate
- Aspen Connected Panel getting closer. Aspen Avionics announced they have received TSO for their CG-100, a blind-mounted box that is the first step towards Aspen’s vision of a fully connected cockpit. The CG-100 will allow pilots to transfer data from their panel to an iPad, using the company’s Evolution Flight Display as a control unit. Launch partners for Connected Panel include ForeFlight, WingX, Seattle Avionics and AvConnect. Aspen is sure to have plenty more news about this product in the months to come.
- iPad education is everywhere. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to using the iPad in the cockpit, but this year’s AirVenture had more seminars and educational opportunities than ever before. Every day, show-goers had the chance to learn about basic or advanced app tips, accessories and legal issues. Plus, a variety of online sites and even video programs are now available, so keeping up to date has never been easier. Watch a recorded seminar here.
Charging the iPad is important. Keeping your iPad (and any accessories) charged is critical for pilots, and the number of options for doing this has expanded greatly. Hot products at Oshkosh 2012 included dual 2.1 amp cigarette lighter plugs (perfect for charging a Stratus and iPad at the same time), backup USB battery packs and even solar chargers. There will doubtless be more advances in this market, as pilots are carrying ever more electronic devices with rechargeable batteries.
That’s our quick look at some of the big iPad stories of Oshkosh 2012. What’s on your list? Did you see something exciting or learn a great tip this year? Add your comment below.