The “connected panel” concept was first introduced around 2011, about a year after the original iPad hit the market, as a technology platform that would allow pilots to set up a wireless 2-way connection between your favorite iPad app and the certified avionics in your panel.
The concept got off to a slow start, but thanks to new avionics developments from most of the major avionics manufacturers, this technology is starting to become more accessible.
The initial goal was to find a way to keep your active flight plans in sync between your iPad and GPS in the panel, eliminating the need to enter it twice before takeoff, or modify it in two locations while en route. Then over the past few years, as more and more pilots started equipping with ADS-B Out transponders and realizing the benefits of ADS-B In weather and traffic, the systems started adding the ability to wirelessly transmit this weather and traffic info from the panel to compatible iPad apps as well.
There are lots of hardware/app configuration options currently available, and to help you decide which is best for you, we assembled this guide showing all the options grouped by avionics manufacturer.
Garmin’s connected panel systems have grown considerably in the past year, and the fact that they’re compatible with both the Garmin Pilot app and ForeFlight has attracted a lot of interest from iPad pilots.
Flight Stream 110: this installed box, usually installed behind the panel or out of sight, uses Bluetooth to create a wireless link between an iPad and a GDL 88 or GDL 84 ADS-B transceiver to send GPS position, ADS-B weather and traffic to your iPad. It is also compatible with the GDL 69/69A to deliver XM weather and radio to your iPad (this feature is not compatible with ForeFlight, only Garmin Pilot).
Flight Stream 210: this model builds on the capability of the 110 and adds the ability to transfer flight plans between your iPad and compatible Garmin GNS (e.g. GNS430W) or GTN (e.g. GTN650) navigators. It also includes a built-in AHRS, which will drive the attitude indicator and synthetic vision display on the iPad.
Flight Stream 510: This tiny MultiMediaCard creates a wireless bridge between Garmin Pilot and Garmin panel-mount avionics, enabling flight plan transfer and ADS-B weather display on an iPad. Most significantly, the powerful little card also allows pilots to wirelessly (and quickly) update databases on panel-mount GPSs like the GTN 650/750.
GTX345 Transponder: this new system takes most of the capabilities of the GDL-88 ADS-In receiver and Flight Stream 110 and incorporates it into a standard size 1090MHz ADS-B Out transponder. It also includes Bluetooth to transmit the weather and traffic data to your iPad or Garmin portable GPS. And like the GDL-88 it has an AHRS sensor built-in, so it’ll send pitch and bank data to drive a backup attitude indicator and synthetic vision on the iPad. It does not offer any flight plan transfer features, so if you own a 430W or GTN650, you’ll also need the Flight Stream 210 to add that capability.
Garmin G3X Touch: Garmin’s glass cockpit system for experiment aircraft includes the Connext wireless capability built-in, allowing you to transfer flight plans between your iPad, the Garmin G3X Touch, and any other installed Garmin navigators (e.g. GTN650). Since it’s experimental and includes Bluetooth, you can also connect a portable GDL39/GDL51/GDL52 receiver to display traffic and weather on the G3X Touch.
Compatible apps: Garmin Pilot and ForeFlight
Avidyne offers two all-in one GPS/NAV/Comms, the IFD440 and 540, which are designed with the same dimensions as the Garmin 430/530 series, offering an upgrade path for owners of these systems.
IFD 440/540: Avidyne was forward-looking with these GPS receivers and included both WiFi and Bluetooth for future growth options. This allows them to communicate directly with compatible apps to send GPS data to mobile devices and keep flight plans in sync. A dedicated Avidyne app is also available to wirelessly connect to the IFD navigator.
Compatible apps: ForeFlight, FltPlan Go, FlyQ, Aerovie and Avidyne IFD100
More information: Avidyne IFD systems
Appareo is most widely known among iPad pilots for its portable Stratus ADS-B In weather and traffic receivers. The company has also developed a certified ADS-B Out transponder that integrates with existing Stratus 2, 1S and 2S.
Stratus ESG: This 1090 MHz ADS-B out transponder includes a WAAS GPS source and is the same size as existing transponders on the market. It’s a great low-cost ADS-B out solution for pilots who already own a Stratus 2, 1S or 2S, since these portable devices can be hard-wired behind the panel to the ESG transponder to provide an affordable connected panel system. This allows the portable Stratus to use the GPS and ADS-B antennas on the exterior of your airplane for improved performance, and power from your the aircraft electrical system.
Stratus 2i: This optional Wi-Fi accessory is a remote-mount version of the Stratus 2S that is specifically made for Stratus ESG. There is no battery or GPS receiver, so it won’t work by itself, but at $500 it’s an affordable way to add ADS-B In capability when wired to a Stratus ESG transponder. These two products together make up a package Appareo calls Stratus ESGi.
Compatible apps: ForeFlight
More information: Appareo ESG Transponder and Stratus 2i
Aspen was the first on the connected panel scene and introduced the concept of flight plan sharing between the iPad and avionics in the panel. While this configuration works with only one specific hardware configuration, it’s a great option to keep your flight plans in sync.
CG100 Connected Gateway: this remote-mounted box creates a Wi-Fi network in your airplane, linking your iPad to an Aspen Evolution flight display and Garmin GNS430 or 530.
Compatible apps: ForeFlight, WingX Pro7 and FlyQ
More information: Aspen Connected Panel
L3’s Lynx line of both panel-mount and remote-mount transponders offer full ADS-B In and Out capabilities, along with the unique ability to display the traffic and weather data right on the front of the transponder’s full-color display.
NGT-9000: This panel-mount 1090 MHz ADS-B In/Out transponder includes a WAAS GPS source and color touchscreen to display weather and traffic. It also includes Wi-Fi to send ADS-B weather, traffic and GPS position to compatible iPad apps.
NGT-2500/2000: This is L3’s remote-mount ADS-B option and can be connected to the optional L3 PIM-9000 Wi-Fi interface to enable connected panel features.
Compatible apps: ForeFlight, WingX Pro, FlyQ, FltPlan Go, Aerovie, iFlightPlanner, SkyRadar
More Information: L-3 Lynx Connectivity
Dynon’s SkyView system is a popular glass-cockpit flight instrument and navigation system for experimental airplanes. With an optional WiFi adapter you can add powerful connected panel capabilities to this system.
Dynon WiFi Adapter: After adding this WiFi adapter you’ll be able to wirelessly send GPS position data, flight plans and AHRS data to your iPad.
Compatible Apps: ForeFlight and FlyQ
More information: Dynon SkyView Wireless Connectivity
FreeFlight offers several ADS-B In and Out options to meet the upcoming FAA requirements, which include WiFi to optionally send the weather and traffic data to your iPad.
RANGR FDL-978-RX: This is an installed ADS-B In only product that includes WiFi to send weather and traffic to compatible mobile devices and apps.
RANGR FDL-978-XVR: The upgraded XVR model builds on the RX system and adds 978 MHz ADS-B Out capability, relying on a 430W/530W for WAAS GPS position data. It also includes WiFi for sending the ADS-B weather and traffic to an iPad.
Compatible Apps: ForeFlight, WingX Pro7, FltPlan Go iFly GPS, eKneeboard, Avare and FlyQ EFB
More information: FreeFlight RANGR transponders