Pilot’s guide to mounting the iPad in the cockpit

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Securing your iPad while you fly is important for safety (to prevent your tablet from flying around the cockpit), but also for convenience, (to keep it close by and easy to use). There are plenty of different mounts to choose from, but they aren’t all universal.

There are also subtle differences in the physical dimensions, screen layout and button locations on each iPad model, so it’s important you take the time to make sure the mount you choose is compatible with your specific iPad model.

There are plenty of options for the iPad Mini, iPad Air 1 and 2, iPad 9.7″ and iPad Pro 10.5″. If you’re flying with the new iPad Pro 11″ or 12.9″, you’ll have fewer options to choose from since the latest-generation models are new to the market. The challenge with the new iPad Pro design is that many of the kneeboards and cradles can cover the corners of the screen, since it features a larger edge-to-edge display (read our iPad Pro pilot report here).

The other big variable is the type of airplane you’re flying, as not all mounts will work in every cockpit layout. Let’s look at some examples.

Cessna high-wing (C172, C182, etc.) Almost any mount will work in this popular airplane model, but our two favorites are the suction cup and the yoke mount. The yoke mount now uses a second-generation Claw design, which is easier to install and does a better job keeping the iPad in place on the yoke shaft.

The suction cup is easy to put up and remove, making it a good choice for renters. It keeps the iPad off the yoke, so it doesn’t block any instruments, but it’s still easily viewed. We like the side window, angled toward the pilot.

We also like to use the front windshield on the right side – if there is no co-pilot – so that it integrates into your avionics stack. Another popular option is the yoke mount, which holds the iPad very securely and is right in your line of sight. This works best for the iPad Mini, but the full-size iPad Air and Pro models are small enough to work well here also.

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad Pro 9.7″ / Air 1-2 

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad Pro 10.5″

RAM Suction Cup Mount for iPad Pro 9.7″ / Air 1-2

RAM Suction Cup Mount for iPad Pro 10.5″

If you have an iPad Pro 11″, or if you want to mount your iPad with one of these options without having to remove your case each time, consider the X-Grip or Universal Cradle option instead of the form-fitting cradle. This provides the flexibility to secure your iPad with the case on while still using a yoke or suction mount.

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad with 10″ X-Grip (for full-size iPads and iPad Pro 11″)

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad with 7″ X-Grip (for iPad Mini)

Cirrus or Cessna Corvalis

With the side stick, one popular option is out the window for these airplanes (the yoke mount), but there are still some good choices. Again, the suction cup mount works well here, but be careful about where you mount it in the side window – the iPad can interfere with the side stick in some configurations.

For this reason, some pilots choose an iPad kneeboard instead, and with plenty of room in your lap this is a good setup. One final option we’ve seen work in some of these airplanes is to use the yoke mount, but attach it to a bar underneath the panel. Here, the iPad can be angled out towards the pilot, with the arm coming out from the bottom. This is convenient when installed on the co-pilot side, but we would be nervous about this in front of the pilot due to emergency egress issues.

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad Pro 9.7″ / Air 1-2 

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad Pro 10.5″

RAM Suction Cup Mount for iPad Pro 9.7″ / Air 1-2

RAM Suction Cup Mount for iPad Pro 10.5″

double suction cup mount
The double suction cup mount is a good option for jets and turboprops.

Piper and Mooney

Like high-wing Cessnas, the suction cup mount and the yoke mount are two good options here. One thing to keep in mind for these airplanes is that kneeboards may not work very well. Oftentimes the yoke is very close to the pilot’s legs in these cockpits, so the yoke might hit a kneeboard on takeoff or landing.

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad Pro 9.7″ / Air 1-2 

RAM Yoke Mount for iPad Pro 10.5″

RAM Suction Cup Mount for iPad Pro 9.7″ / Air 1-2

RAM Suction Cup Mount for iPad Pro 10.5″

Beech – Most of these airplanes have a much larger control column than Cessnas and Pipers, so pilots of these airplanes need to use the special Beech Yoke Mount. This attaches to the large control column that parallels the panel.

Small/Mid-Size Jets –  There aren’t many great options for these airplanes, since the yoke design varies dramatically between models. The kneeboard option is our preferred choice, since it stays out of the way of floor-mounted yokes. The other mount we’ve had success with is the double suction cup mount from RAM. This holds firmly to the side window, and most jets have enough cockpit space to accommodate this mount without interfering with the instruments or the controls. This is the approach many airlines use.

MyGoFlight yoke mount
MyGoFlight offers a line of mounts that are almost infinitely adjustable.

Specialty Mounting Options – All of the mounts above are from RAM Mounts, the de facto standard for cockpit mounts. These work well and are affordable, but two newer companies offer a higher end alternative for those pilots willing to spend a little more.

First up is the PIVOT case and mounting system. This hard-sided case was developed by a Southwest Airlines pilot and offers serious protection. The complete system includes a quick-release suction cup mount that is ideal for the side window. Alternately, pilots can use the universal 1″ ball adapter to use the PIVOT with RAM Mounts.

MyGoFlight also offers a high-quality line of mounts, including a suction cup and a yoke mount. These have multi-piece arms with multiple joints, so they are almost infinitely adjustable. This makes it easy to position your iPad more precisely, either on a side window or on the yoke.

Another option from MyGoFlight is an adjustable cradle to hold your iPad in its case. This is compatible with both the suction cup and yoke flex mount systems mentioned above. The Universal iPad Cradle is compatible with any tablet from 7″ to 11″ (including the new iPad Pro 11″), while the Universal XL Tablet Cradle is designed for larger tablets like the 12.9″ iPad Pro.

X-Naut mount
The X-Naut mount has built-in fans to keep the iPad cool.

If iPad overheating is an issue in the cockpit, there are also mounts available with built-in cooling fans from X-Naut. This system circulates cool air at around your iPad to ensure reliable operation in hot conditions. These work with all standard RAM Mount systems, and have built-in batteries to remain wire-free.

X-Naut Cooling Case for iPad Air 1-2 and 9.7″

X-Naut Cooling Case for iPad Pro 10.5″

X-Naut Cooling Case for iPad Mini

For experimental airplanes, there is perhaps the ultimate mount – one built into the panel. The best option right now comes from Guardian Avionics, with their iFDR Panel Mount. This mounts flush against the panel and has cutouts for power and a cooling fan.

As you can see, the options are vast and sometimes confusing, but there is a setup that works in virtually any airplane. You can shop the complete iPad mount collection here. Or, check out a variety of iPad kneeboards here. 

Finally, many pilots prefer to use larger iPhone models as a primary EFB in the cockpit. The plus-size models are nearly the size of the iPad Mini, and can just as easily be mounted using yoke and suction cup cradles. Read more about mounting your iPhone in the cockpit here.

5 COMMENTS

  1. You mention the 2nd generation claw type yoke mount , suits C172 can you give me the price and perhaps details of how it fits ,I have a C172 and have not been able to find anything I can be comfortable with that
    does not interfere with instrument view and or restrict full yoke movement , hope you can help ,thanks.John

  2. It’s amazing, you went through all these different types of aircraft and yet you somehow always forget about Warbirds.
    With our canopies we get direct sunlight. For me the X-Naut. Until this system my iPad would shut down within 20 minutes.

    Now I never have to worry even with it in direct sunlight for hours

    Great job X- Naut.

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