The most recent iOS 11 software update for iPad and iPhone has been a success by all standards, with no major bugs reported since the public release. That’s not to say it’s perfect though, as it’s inevitable for some minor issues reported with a major update like this. Pilots especially need to pay extra attention to the stability of the software before updating their devices due to the importance of the role the iPad now plays in the cockpit.
To help let you know when it’s ok to update, we keep in touch with all the major aviation app and accessory developers and regularly update our iOS Green Light Program page. As of today, most of the developers are giving the thumbs up to update. With that being said, there a few caveats pilots should be aware of after updating to iOS 11, related to GPS and the wireless controls in the new Control Center.
GPS position data at speeds over 300 knots
The first limitation affects pilots flying with an external GPS receiver, like those from Bad Elf or Dual, in high-performance airplanes that can reach a groundspeed of over 300 knots. The problem will result in a loss of GPS signal if you place your device in Airplane Mode before takeoff and then fly at speeds over 300 knots. The problem will resolve itself after 30 minutes, but that would be pretty inconvenient. For those high flyers that wish to update to iOS 11 now, Bad Elf has figured out a workaround that you can perform before or during your flight:
- Put your iOS device into Airplane Mode (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cellular OFF)
- Go to Settings.app > Privacy > Location Services and toggle Location Services OFF, then back ON
- If needed, turn Bluetooth back ON to detect and connect to your Bad Elf GPS unit
This does NOT seem to affect devices that offer additional capabilities beyond GPS, like Stratus, Garmin’s line of GDL ADS-B receivers or their panel-mount GPS systems.
Visit Bad Elf’s GPS Support page for more information on this issue.
Changes to the Control Center wireless settings
Apple updated the design and layout of the Control Center, which is accessed by swiping up from the bottom of your device’s screen, as part of the iOS 11 update. Overall this is a nice enhancement since it moves all the controls onto one screen and allows you to customize the layout of the buttons.
The downside though, and some may debate this, is that the WiFi and Bluetooth controls don’t actually disable those radios when you turn off the switch. Rather they only disconnect a Bluetooth or WiFi device, while keeping the radios active. Apple responded that the reason for this is so that you can keep using “important” features and devices like AirDrop, AirPlay, the Apple Pencil and the Apple Watch.
To disable unneeded radios completely before takeoff, which is the recommended preflight procedure, you need to head over to the main iPad Settings app and turn off the respective switches there. Or, you can continue to use the airplane mode feature from the control center, which will also completely turn off the Bluetooth and WiFi radios, as recommended in our preflight guide.
You can then individually turn on Bluetooth or Wifi as required from the same Control Center to connect your GPS or ADS-B accessory. On the plus side, there’s now a dedicated switch for cellular data in the control center, making it easy to disable that radio on models that feature an LTE data connection.