We are continuing our regular series on the finer points of popular aviation apps, to help you get the most out of your Electronic Flight Bag. This week, we dive into FltPlan Go to explore some of the hidden features that can save you time or enable new functionality. Best of all, the app is free so you can follow along.
Lock screen. Sometimes you need to lock the screen so you don’t accidentally change the app settings or the current map view. This is especially true in turbulence or when stowing your tablet for takeoff and landing. This is quick and easy to do in FltPlan Go – simply tap Settings at the bottom left corner, then “Lock Screen.” This can be accessed from any screen.
Here’s the view you’ll see when the screen is locked. If you tap on the screen, the orange error message will appear at the top. Tap the red lock symbol at the bottom left to unlock the screen.
Super dim screen mode. There are multiple ways to turn down the brightness on your iPad, which is important during night flights. A glowing tablet is a great way to ruin your night vision, so we always recommend adjusting screen brightness before getting in the airplane. You can tap on the Settings menu and use the Brightness slider to fine tune the screen brightness (this is tied to your global iPad screen brightness setting, so changing it here changes it everywhere). There’s also a “Super Dim” mode just below that slider bar. Enabling this turns the screen down below even the lowest brightness setting. It’s perfect for pitch black nights, but be careful if you do it in bright sunlight – you may not be able to see your screen anymore!
Adjust METAR symbols to match your minimums. Most pilots are familiar with the standard colors for METAR symbols, with pink indicating low IFR and green indicating good VFR. FltPlan Go offers customization options that can be really useful for newer pilots. If your personal (or flight department/school) minimums are higher than the standard, adjust the app to match. From the Maps page, tap the METARs button at the top to enable the METARs layer. Then use the slider bars on the right to adjust ceiling, visibility, wind speed and temperature to fit your personal preferences.
Downloaded maps only. It’s still one of the most common mistakes pilots make with the iPad – forgetting to download the appropriate charts for an upcoming trip. FltPlan Go has a handy way to double-check that you’ve downloaded all the databases you need. From the Maps page, tap the gear symbol at the top left of the screen, then check “Downloaded Maps Only.”
With that turned on, you will only see maps that have been downloaded and stored on your iPad – the app won’t automatically pull down charts via your internet connection as you pan around. This makes it obvious which charts are saved and which aren’t, and is also a way to save data charges if you’re using your iPad’s LTE connection. The screenshot below shows an example: note the yellow areas on the left side of the screen, signifying areas that have not been saved.
Low/slow scale on winds aloft. Winds aloft is an important part of any preflight briefing, but the definition of “strong wind” varies depending on your aircraft’s speed and altitude. 80 knots at 37,000 feet may be normal; at 4,000 feet it would be extraordinary. There’s a little-known setting in FltPlan Go that addresses this problem. Go to the Maps page, then select Winds from the row of overlay options at the top of the screen. On the right side, you can check the “Use Low/Slow Scale” under the wind speed legend.
In the screenshot below, you’ll see a wind map with the standard (high/fast) scale. This might be appropriate for, say, a turbine airplane.
And here are the same wind conditions with Low/Slow turned on. This might be better for a piston airplane, since it shows more detail about the winds aloft.