How to lock the iPad chart screen in flight

4 min read

screen lockAfter gaining some experience with the iPad, pilots will quickly learn that certain screen orientations match up better with certain chart types. For example, the portrait orientation works well for displaying IFR approach charts while the landscape is often better suited for sectionals or en route charts.

But when using the iPad in your lap, whether secured in a kneeboard or resting loosely, you’ll find that the device shifts with leg movement. This leads to the iPad thinking it’s being rotated, which in turn results in the screen switching back and forth between portrait and landscape orientations.

To prevent this from happening, you can use the iPad’s Lock Rotation feature. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the Control Center and locate the round lock symbol button at the far right of the circular round buttons. Tap this and the button will turn white indicating that the screen orientation is now locked. The same lock symbol will then appear in the top status bar to help remind you.

Application screen lock

You can also enable a more restrictive screen lock function by using in-app controls found in the popular aviation apps. These will prevent you from accidentally touching the screen and changing what is displayed on the iPad. Each app does it a little differently, but the end result is the same:

ForeFlight Mobile -> When viewing an approach chart, SID, STAR or runway diagram you’ll find a lock button at the upper right of the screen. Turning this on will prevent you from accidentally zooming or panning the chart, and also locks the orientation of the iPad. By default, the bottom tab buttons will still be active – if you want these to lock as well, make sure to set the function “Lock Disables Button”  to ON in the main settings page.

The Garmin Pilot app lock screen button is accessed from the Tools menu.

The Garmin Pilot app lock screen button is accessed from the Tools menu.

Garmin Pilot -> While on either the map or chart page, you’ll find a Tools button at the top right of the screen. Pressing this will lower a drop-down menu and at the top is a “Lock Screen” option. Similar to ForeFlight, this will lock whatever is on the screen until you turn the Lock Screen option back off.

WingX Pro -> On the Moving Maps page there is an arrow at the top right corner of the screen. Tapping this will lower a drop-down menu, and the first option “Lock” will disable all interactions with the screen.

One thing to keep in mind with these functions is that they will not disable the physical home or power buttons on the iPad, though these are a little more difficult to inadvertently press.

Disabling Auto-Lock

In the main settings page for the iPad is an option to turn on the Auto-Lock feature. This allows you to set a timer, between 2 and 15 minutes, that will automatically put the iPad in sleep mode after a period of inactivity. This is useful in the home or office to prevent battery drain if you forget to put the iPad in sleep mode with the power button. In the air however, this function can be a hindrance and will turn your screen off if you don’t touch the screen for several minutes. Fortunately, several of the apps include a built-in feature to override the Auto-Lock, therefore eliminating the step of toggling that setting to OFF before each flight. Here’s how:

ForeFlight Mobile – > Select the More tab at the bottom of the screen and then choose Settings from the list on the left of the screen. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see the option “Allow Device to Sleep”. Setting this to OFF will override the iPad’s Auto-Lock setting and prevent the iPad from sleeping while the app is running. This will only function while the ForeFlight app is running. Switching to another app will cause the iPad to sleep again after a period of inactivity.

Garmin Pilot -> Press the Home button at the top left of the screen, select Settings, and then go to the General tab on the left side of the screen. About midway down you’ll see the option “Prevent Auto-Lock” with a three-way toggle switch. Setting this to “While Moving” will allow the iPad to sleep if you’re stationary on the ground, but once it detects GPS motion it will prevent the iPad from sleeping. The other 2 options are are to always prevent auto-lock, or to have the app never override the auto-lock.

If you’re flying with an app that doesn’t have a sleep override setting, simply toggle the Auto-Lock switch to NEVER from the main iPad settings page to ensure your iPad screen doesn’t go blank at a critical time.