One year ago at Sun ‘n Fun, the three company partnership of Appareo, ForeFlight and Sporty’s announced Stratus, a wireless ADS-B receiver that delivers subscription-free weather to the iPad. Stratus quickly became a runaway hit, and made ADS-B a household word among pilots. Today at the 2013 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in, the group unveiled the second generation Stratus with a new design and a host of new features.
In particular, the second generation Stratus has two higher end features that are becoming popular options with pilots:
- AHRS. The new Stratus includes a complete Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS) for backup attitude information in the cockpit. While you would never use this information for primary navigation, it provides a reasonable backup in a worst case scenario where the panel goes dark. The internal AHRS has some unique features to help it align itself automatically, so pilots don’t have to do any manual calibration before flight and the unit does not have to be perfectly level. The attitude instruments are displayed on a separate app–Stratus Horizon–which is free. Information includes a large attitude indicator, updated 10 times/second for a smooth presentation, plus GPS groundspeed, GPS altitude, GPS vertical speed and rate of turn. An nice setup would be to run Horizon on your iPhone as a backup, while your iPad runs ForeFlight.
- Dual band traffic. While ADS-B traffic has some major limitations, more and more pilots are equipping their airplanes with ADS-B Out transponders. With one of these transponders, a portable ADS-B receiver can offer an excellent traffic display. Even without an ADS-B Out transponder, some pilots will still find the limited ADS-B traffic to be valuable. The new Stratus includes a dual band (978 MHz and 1090 MHz) ADS-B receiver to pick up the most traffic possible and it displays this traffic information right on the ForeFlight Maps page. With ForeFlight’s TrafficTrend display, pilots can see relative altitude, climb/descent rate and projected track.
There are also a number of performance enhancements, based on pilot feedback:
- Smaller case. While the original Stratus wasn’t exactly large, the new one is 30% smaller. It’s an impressive feat considering the new unit includes a second band ADS-B receiver and an AHRS, all while maintaining the 8-hour battery life. It fits nicely in your hand now or in a coat pocket.
- Remote GPS and ADS-B antenna options. Stratus is designed to work without any wires, which is a real convenience for most pilots. But for some jet operators with heated windshields, the option to use an external antenna is a must. So the new Stratus includes ports for a wired GPS and/or ADS-B antenna. This allows Stratus to be mounted out of the way–even under a seat–and still get outstanding reception.
- Increased temperature operating range. One problem that any battery-powered device can have (including the iPad) is overheating. The second generation Stratus has a number of features to prevent this, including a white case to reflect heat, an internal cooling fan and a custom dash mount.
- Dash mount. Because the internal AHRS needs to remain still for proper operation, Stratus includes a custom bracket and silicone dash mount. It makes it easy to place the receiver on the glare shield and not have to worry about it sliding around.
Just like the original Stratus, the second generation model receives subscription-free ADS-B weather and includes a WAAS GPS for reliable position information. The GPS is a great way to take advantage of ForeFlight’s new Hazard Advisor feature, which shows a high resolution terrain dislay.
At just $899, the second generation Stratus is aggressively priced, coming in at least $200 less than comparable receivers. Orders for the new Stratus are being accepted now, and it is expected to ship by the end of April.
The original Stratus isn’t going away, either. In fact, it received a $100 price cut, to $699. ForeFlight also announced that the first generation Stratus will support single band ADS-B traffic by the end of the month, after updating to the latest version of ForeFlight and completing a free firmware update.
More information is available at Sporty’s website.