Bad Elf simplifies avionics database updates

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Wireless software updates have become the norm these days, allowing you to effortlessly update the digital sectionals on your iPad, or to update your car’s firmware to the latest version while in the garage. It often takes just a single button press and the data is automatically downloaded and installed to your device (or car). Pilots flying with Garmin’s FlightStream system have been able to also use this technology for a while now too in the airplane, to send monthly database updates from the Garmin Pilot app to the Garmin avionics in their aircraft.

The reality though is that most of the avionics we fly with today rely on the old-fashioned method for database updates. This process requires you to remove the memory card from the panel, take it to a computer with a card reader, download the update from a website, and then head back to the hangar to replace the updated card. Rinse and repeat every 28 days.

Fortunately, a new option recently became available thanks to a partnership between Jeppesen and Bad Elf, which allows you to wirelessly update your avionics’ database cards right from the cockpit.

The first part of the equation is the new Jeppesen JDM mobile app for iPhone and iPad, which you’ll use to download the latest database update during each cycle. Then, you’ll connect your iPhone or iPad to Bad Elf’s new Wombat accessory using the Wombat’s WiFi network.

The Wombat is essentially a media transfer device that features an internal rechargeable battery and includes both USB and SD/MicroSD card ports to support the most common media types used by both legacy and newer avionics. Insert your avionics database card into the Wombat, tap the Transfer button in the Jeppesen JDM App and the updates are sent right to the card. Remove the updated cards from the Wombat, insert into your avionics and go fly – easy as that.

The JDM Mobile app and Bad Elf Wombat solution are currently compatible with the most popular general aviation avionics from Garmin and Avidyne, though they plan to add additional support for Aspen, Dynon, Advanced Flight Systems, Genesys Aerosystems, Grand Rapids Technologies and MGL Avionics. There is also a Wombat Turbine Edition that can be used to update avionics found in larger aircraft from Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.

The Wombat also features some in-flight functionality as well, allowing you to charge your iPhone or iPad using its internal 9,800 mAh battery. After a flight, you can use the Wombat to copy logs from the SD/USB media from compatible avionics to your iPhone or iPad, and then open and share the logs using CloudAhoy, Savvy Analysis and Cirrus Reports.

The Wombat for Piston Aircraft retails for $249.99 and requires no annual service fee, provided you are a Jeppesen JDM subscriber. The Wombat Turbine Edition sells for $499.99 and requires a $100/yr service fee after the first year.