Using GoodReader for aviation document management

2 min read

The iPad is as popular with pilots as free newspapers in the pilot lounge with a cup of day-old FBO coffee. And rightfully so – the iPad has quickly proven itself to be a sophisticated electronic chart reader, navigator and reliable pilot companion. But the iPad can do so much more for pilots than just show charts – it’s also an ideal document organizer and reader.


GoodReader is perfect for your airplane’s POH/AIM.

Using an app known as GoodReader ($4.99 from the App Store), you can store and organize a wealth of PDFs and other aviation electronic documents. Here are a few recommendations:

  • FAA Aviation Manuals (e.g. AIM, Airplane Flying Handbook, Instrument Procedures Handbook, etc.) – these are available as a free download from the FAA website.
  • Aircraft Flight Manuals – many aircraft manufacturers (including Cessna, Diamond and Cirrus) make pilot manuals available free of charge in PDF format on their websites.
  • Avionics Pilot’s Guides – many of the avionics manufacturers (Garmin, Aspen, Avidyne and Honeywell) offer free PDF copies of all their flight display and GPS manuals.
  • FAA Practical Test Standards – during flight training it’s helpful to have quick access to the PTS when getting ready for a checkride. They can be found on the FAA website as well.
  • Custom Aircraft Checklists and Limitations – you can create custom checklists for the airplanes you fly on a regular basis. Also add “cheat-sheets” to your checklists, which contain all the pertinent numbers for the airplane like limiting weights, speeds and fluid quantities and anything else you can think of.

There are two methods for transferrring documents into GoodReader. The most basic is to download the PDF from one of the above mentioned websites using the iPad’s Safari web browser. Once the PDF is open in the browser window, tap the center of the screen, and you’ll see an “Open In…” button at the top right. Selecting “Open in GoodReader” from the list will automatically save the PDF to the GoodReader app, and make it available for offline viewing.

This method can be time consuming if you want to save multiple PDFs and doesn’t help you if the document is on your computer or laptop. An alternate method is to save all the docs and PDFs to your computer first, and then sync them via iTunes. Here’s a quick how-to on the syncing process: GoodReader USB Syncing.

Use your imagination on what other useful documents you might want to include. Once they are saved in GoodReader, you can rename the files and organize them into folders. And best of all, they will always be with you in the airplane and just a tap away.

9 replies
  1. Steve
    Steve says:

    This is a great article but why promote GoodReader when using the Apple Bookshelf is free and easy to manage PDFs?

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Steve, I think GoodReader has some really powerful features that are worth the $4.99. The file organizer is great, and the highlighting and annotation features are excellent too.

  2. Todd
    Todd says:

    I’ve been using Goodreader for these documents for awhile. Goodreader allows annotations and highlighting. Also good for searching and bookmarking. My maintenance facility provides invoices via PDF and I can organize into Goodreader. Though the article mentions Cessna as having PDF for AFM… I haven’t found one for 172S NavII… and haven’t seen any on their website

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    You say that Cessna provides pilots manuals for free at the link above? Even after registering with Cessna at the link above, there is no way to download manuals online for free and it looks like there are only paper versions for sale (for significant $$$). Cirrus by far has the easiest download operation for these (and I’m a Cessna pilot).

    • Sean
      Sean says:

      Thanks Bret! Very helpful. Do you know if they have manuals for Nav II aircraft anywhere? The ones I fly are 2004 Nav II (non-G1000).

      • Bret Koebbe
        Bret Koebbe says:

        Sean, as far as I know Cessna only offer free pdfs for the aircraft that are currently in production. I’ll post an update if I come across PIMs for the earlier models.

  4. Rick A
    Rick A says:

    I have Good Reader but it has a very confusing user interface. I can get things into Good Reader but trying to use them afterwards is almost a too hard.

  5. Joel Orozco
    Joel Orozco says:

    There are another two methods for transferring docs to Goodreader.
    1. The built-in app wifi function
    2. To create a Dropbox account (or similar) and connect to the Dropbox server from inside Goodreader app. THIS IS MY FAVORITE for many documents.

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