Updated Aithre app adds voice-activated nearest airport lookup
Not all apps are focused on charts and in-flight weather; in fact, the maturation of the aviation app marketplace has brought a number of interesting ideas into the cockpit that solve specific problems. One example we’ve flown with (and previously reviewed) is the Aithre Connect app and its companion line of pilot monitoring devices. This free app connects to the company’s carbon monoxide detector, pulse oximeter, and oxygen tank monitor, then provides real time status information and audio alerts—without having to read multiple screens on remote devices. The latest version of this app adds new features that go beyond health monitoring, including voice commands.
Version 7.6 of Aithre Connect refines the design of the app, with more information visible on the home screen as a sort of dashboard layout. Across the top you can swipe through indicators for carbon monoxide, pulse oximetry, oxygen tank pressure, turbulence (using your phone’s built-in accelerometer), history, settings, and even a checklist editor. This is a good way to quickly scan critical information in flight, and you can tap on each button for a detailed page with current data and recent trends (see below).
Tapping on the checklist editor presents the option to create up to four custom checklists (runup, takeoff, landing, and a custom-named one). This is fairly basic—enter the checklist item in each blank line—but once a checklist is created, you can tap on each item to skip/check it or have Siri read the item to you. If you’ve paired your Bluetooth-capable headset to your iPad (like a Bose A20 or Lightspeed Zulu 3), you’ll hear each item in your headset so you can keep your eyes outside.
The speech tools go the other way too. Specific voice commands will cause the app to lookup airport information and frequencies. You can display this information on the app’s home screen or have Siri read the information to you. For example, tap the green Assistant START button and say, “Get KOSH.” The app will show Oshkosh frequencies, services, runways, and more. You can set a departure, arrival, and alternate airport so the information is preloaded for quick access. There’s also a nearest feature that shows your closest airports, which can filter facilities by runway length and services.
Aithre Connect is hardly a full-featured electronic flight bag app (there are no charts or weather maps, for example), but it’s a fairly intuitive addition to a helpful app. As Aithre Founder Jim Ruttler says, “This fits within our ecosystem to help pilots fly safer with easy and intuitive access to airports in the case of diversions or emergencies.”
The Aithre Connect is free to download and use for device monitoring. It’s available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch (a very handy option in this case). We found ourselves running it on our iPhone while the iPad remained on ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot. To turn on the assistant feature, with voice commands and airport information, you’ll need to make a $9.99 in-app purchase for a one year subscription.