Today Garmin released the first big update to the Pilot app for 2015, which adds a new set of features designed to make life easier for helicopter pilots. This update also expands the app’s integration with both panel-mount and portable Garmin avionics, including the G3X glass-cockpit system and GLO GPS receiver. As we’ve covered in the past, the Garmin Pilot app ranks near the top in terms of customer satisfaction and adoption rate among pilots flying with the iPad, and this new update makes the app even more capable.
New Helicopter Features
The first thing helicopter pilots will notice is the inclusion of Helicopter Route Charts in the app. These three-color charts depict helicopter airways and routes, heliports with associated frequency and lighting capabilities, NAVAID information and obstructions. Additionally, pictorial symbols, roads and geographical features are notated on these charts for easier identification in urban areas with high concentrations of helicopter activity.
You can download both VFR and IFR Helicopter Route Charts for the following eight major metropolitan areas: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles and New York. It also includes coverage for the Gulf of Mexico, with details on offshore drilling platforms and more.
For helicopter air ambulance operators, rules recently established by the FAA require pilots to identify and document the highest obstacle along a planned route (§ 135.615). Pilots can now fulfill those requirements right in the Garmin Pilot app. When entering a departure and destination airport pair, Garmin Pilot identifies the highest obstacle along the route of flight in mean sea level (MSL) and above ground level (AGL) within the Flight Plan page and notates the obstacle graphically on the moving map page.
In addition to the new helicopter features, Garmin also added a few new enhancements to improve connectivity with aviation hardware:
- Garmin G3X Touch Integration: this allows pilots to wirelessly transfer flight plans, including airways, to and from the Garmin Pilot app. It also allows the G3X to send GPS and AHRS information to the app to drive the moving map and synthetic vision features.
- Garmin GLO Integration: pilots flying with the GLO portable GPS will now see battery level and firmware details right in the Garmin Pilot app. It also increases the GLO location update rate to 5 times per second. To take advantage of these new features you will need to update your GPS to firmware version 2.70 by connecting the GLO to a computer and using Garmin’s WebUpdater software.