Garmin Pilot has steadily improved over the past two years, to the point where it now offers many of the same features you would find in a fully-integrated glass cockpit. But like all apps, new features mean new things to learn, so here we offer six quick tips to help you take advantage of the latest tools.
1. Use “night mode” on Synthetic Vision. One of Garmin’s standout features is its synthetic vision display, lifted right out of a G1000 cockpit. When connected to a GDL 39 3D ADS-B/AHRS receiver, the app will show real-time pitch and roll, plus altitude, groundspeed and track. We’ve noticed at night, though, that this display can get very bright. To save your night vision, tap the Menu button at the top right of the SynVis screen, the enable Night Mode. This will dim the colors enough to save your vision, but without losing any of the detail from the moving map display.
2. Adjust traffic settings. Garmin’s dedicated traffic page is an uncluttered way to track nearby targets (again, when connected to a GDL 39 to receive traffic). But this basic-looking screen can be customized in a number of ways. First, you can tap on a target for detailed information, including tail number (if available), track, speed and altitude. On the left side of the screen, tap the three boxes to adjust settings to your preference. Turn the altitude filter to unrestricted if you’d like to see all traffic, or go back to normal to only see nearby airplanes. Another helpful setting is the vector duration, which customizes how far out in front of targets the app will draw a projected track line. This is really valuable when planning deviations to miss traffic. Finally, tap the + or – buttons in the bottom right corner to zoom in or out.
3. Print and share plates. From time to time, it’s very handy to print an approach plate or taxiway diagram–maybe your co-pilot doesn’t have the app or maybe you just want backup. Either way, it’s easy to do. After choosing a plate from the Charts page, tap the Menu button, then Share. From here, you can print the plate, or you can email it to someone. There’s also an option to save the image to your Photos app, which could have value as a backup in case the app stopped working. It’s all accessible from the Share menu.
4. Filter approach charts. At some larger airports, there can be dozens of approach charts, from RNAV arrivals to Category III ILS approaches. For most GA pilots, this is overwhelming and unnecessary, so Garmin offers a quick way to filter out the charts you don’t want. Go to the Charts page, then select a binder (Garmin pre-populates them for departure and destination). In the upper right corner, tap the Filter button and you’ll see a drop-down menu appear. This is a fast way to eliminate departure procedures, for example, if you’re looking for approaches.
5. Enable automatic SafeTaxi. Garmin’s detailed taxiway diagrams are one of the app’s best features. Far more than just the FAA airport diagram, these charts feature hold short lines, runway incursion hot spots and more. But rolling out on the runway after landing is the wrong time to be heads-down tapping your iPad. For this reason, Garmin offers the option to automatically display the SafeTaxi chart (if available) when the app detects you have landed. From the main menu, go to Settings, then General and enable Automatic SafeTaxi. It’s a real time-saver.
6. Use suggested routes. For IFR pilots, finding the best route to file is a constant challenge, especially for busy airports. Garmin Pilot makes this easy–from the Flight Plan page, enter your departure and destination airports, then tap Routing to the right of the route you just entered. This will show the most recent routes that ATC cleared pilots to fly between those airports. Choose one that is appropriate for your altitude, then tap it to make that route active. This does require an internet connection, so do it on the ground before takeoff.