Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

15 Replies

Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Stephen Goetsch on Sep 10, 2018 8:57 am

This month's Flying Magazine has an article comparing the virtues of ForeFlight and Garmin Pilot.  I have not really used Garmin Pilot but have had some experience with ForeFlight and more with FlyQ.  However, as I am currently located in the UK, and despite ForeFlight's recent upgrade to more fully support European flying, I find that I still like SkyDemon, the most popular such software in the UK and in Europe, much better than ForeFlight.  SkyDemon, being European, does not have the kind of information support in the US that ForeFlight has, but ForeFlight does not have that going for it here in the UK.  Even if it did, I think I would still prefer SkyDemon for its wonderful useability and simplicity, while being every bit as powerful as ForeFlight.  I keep both subscriptions, however, because I like ForeFlight's log book, while SkyDemon has not yet fully implemented a logbook (It does keep detailed records of flights, however, just not (yet) in logbook form!)

I am wondering if AOPA or AOPAUK would be willing to do a side-by-side evaluation of these three software packages?  All of them seem very good in their own way.  A report in depth like one used to get in Consumer Reports evaluating every significant aspect of them would be very helpful.

Re: Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Gary Palmer on Sep 28, 2018 10:55 am

I had Foreflight for years.  Last year I switched to Garmin Pilot because my iPad died and I wanted to get away from the iPad device, I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.  I am now disappointed with Garmin pilot enough that at the end of my subscription I will again change.  Problems?  Sometimes slow but more critical is a couple missing features.  Point 1, at LAX the TAC has a legend which defined special ways to cross through the LAX bravo airspace.  The VFR corridors do not require a Bravo clearance, but clearly state that you should have current charts when using.  That is because they infrequently change; I witnessed it once already.  There is one corridor which does require a clearance (the mini-route) and there have been times when the mini-route is open and as I request a clearance I am asked "if familiar".  That includes "do I have a current chart".  Garmin Pilot does not have it, and they told me to download the pdf chart from the internet and just keep that on my tablet, thanks!  I think foreflight had it, but I did not like the interface and it was painful to remember how to find it if I wanted to refresh my memory.  Garmin also lacks a "fly-away" chart, that thing on the back of the TAC which shows the Bravo airspace without all the details of a VFR chart.  Lastly, Garmin lacks a profile view (foreflight had this and it was really nice), I put in a flight plan and the profile lets me see the whole plan with ground altitudes so I could see what minimum altitude clearance was needed for the whole route.  That was good for awareness, not explicit planning.

A friend showed me IFlyGPS.  That will be my next product.  It has the legends with VFR corridors right on the top, just select TAC chart then legend, boom!  The profile is a live view in a small section at the bottom of the window so that is not something I have to get like foreflight, but additional awareness with live updates; very nice.  The product also has "vector" mode which is like a fly-away chart but better.  It geolocates (great for tours around LA), but the performance (speed) is amazing.  Without all the chart details, vector mode is lightening fast, even on my older phone it worked fine where all other apps are slow (my phone is several years old).  AND IFlyGPS is, as their marketing says, "one app, any platform" (apple, windows, and android).

I know Garmin recently purchased FltPlan and that my help add focus to improving the product, but my opinion is that unless all the above concerns are addressed, I will switch away from Pilot at the end of the year.  Garmin has many things they support and produce, the app is only one.  IFlyGPS (like foreflight) is a company with one product, so they really need to kill it with product capability and support!

Re: Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Charles Gruby on Sep 28, 2018 11:49 am

Gents, Some time ago, I decided to purchase Garmin Pilot and an android tablet to operate from. I had looked into Foreflite, but decided with the android being much less expensive that the iPad and the software capability being virtually the same, there was no contest.

I spent considerable time learning the system and became pretty proficient. I flew a few trip with it and was really impressed with it's ability. At some point while planning a trip, I used the "rubber band effect" make a course change. What I discovered is the rubber band didn't work at all. What happened was that instead of altering the course, the course continued to the destination and then returned to the rubber band input point. 

Nothing I could do would make it respond properly. I called Garmin. The technician got out his tablet and duplicated my key strokes while I was doing the same thing. He announced that his was responding properly, while mine wasn't. We reloaded the software and repeated the process, no change. I finally asked him what the problem was, to which he responded, "I don't have a clue." When I asked him what I should do, he said, the same thing, "I don't have a clue." Well I told him I knew what I was going to do, that was to buy Foreflite, which I did, $700 for an iPad mini and $200 for Foreflite. That was a couple of years ago and I never looked back.

There are several ones out there and maybe many are as good as Foreflite and maybe not, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Cheers,
Chuck Gruby
Petal, MS

Re: Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Ronald Levy on Sep 30, 2018 8:14 am

Y'all remember that Stephen is in the UK.  What works best in the USA may not work best there, and vice versa.  My European friends all use Sky Demon.

Re: Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Stephen Goetsch on Oct 1, 2018 8:06 am

Thank you fall for your comments so far, I am interested in other's experience.  I had an online chat with an acquaintance who really likes Garmin Pilot.  One thing I specifically called out was for a profile view, as I am unaware about how to get that on ForeFlight.  He sent me a screen shot of Pilot with a split screen showing profile on one side.  I have never used Pilot in flight, and when I tried to get their month try out period, I think I blew it, either didn't happen to fly that month or they would let you load the software but not charts (?!?) or something, and I don't think I can demo it anymore. 

Yes, I use SkyDemon here in the UK and absolutely love it.  It is very easy to use, has decluttering features that only show me airspace issues that are both relevant to where I am (in flight or in planning) or that I have specifically asked to see.  It works with all the 3rd party gadgets, although I only use a Dual GPS with it.  During planning it shows all the weather it can find (planning is the only time I can use that, as I have no ADS-B In or equal to bring in real time weather in flight.  Almost everything on SkyDemon that you need in flight is no more than one tap (and sometimes scroll) away.  So, it really is good.  I need to check out Pilot more thoroughly, but for now I am using SkyDemon, at least until I get sent back to the US.
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Re: Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Roderick Kleiss on Oct 1, 2018 8:37 am

This software choice is a work in progress no doubt. Since I have a Garmin glass panel and generally stay away from Apple, I first tried Garmin put on the Android. Bad choice. Garmin really doesn't support the Android. They admitted to me that is about 3 years behind their iPad software. So I bought an iPad. Much better. Jury is still out.

Re: Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Ronald Levy on Oct 1, 2018 10:51 am

Stephen Goetsch:
Thank you fall for your comments so far, I am interested in other's experience.  I had an online chat with an acquaintance who really likes Garmin Pilot.  One thing I specifically called out was for a profile view, as I am unaware about how to get that on ForeFlight. 

Foreflight has a Profile view.  In the MAP view, tap FPL and it's an option after Edit and Nav Log.

 

Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Brennan Callan on Oct 1, 2018 2:00 pm

I have appreciated hearing/reading the GOOD/BAD/UGLY of the tables and software because I am getting closer to starting REMOTE PILOT Aerial Videography projects and in the near future, I really need to make decisions on equipment/software I have never used/owned/purchased.  There are too many unknown factors and it is good hearing from the group.

My other future hope is to finish my SPORT PILOT CERTIFICATE, therefore, having a tablet that works for Remote Piloting and for GA makes perfect since.  That UK software really sounds like the best option, but I don't know if it would work in the USA and if it would be set up for the latest of our FAA/FAR requirements.  My goals do not include flying over the UK, therefore, if any of you know whether I would need to consider SKY DEMON, let me know that too.

Depending on the "small Unmanned Aerial System" (sUAS) that I eventually get, some of them have/use specific tablets and they might already integrate one software or another.  There are too many unknown factors.

Best wishes,
Brennan

Re: Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Ronald Levy on Oct 1, 2018 10:09 pm

Brennan Callan:

My other future hope is to finish my SPORT PILOT CERTIFICATE, therefore, having a tablet that works for Remote Piloting and for GA makes perfect since.  That UK software really sounds like the best option, but I don't know if it would work in the USA and if it would be set up for the latest of our FAA/FAR requirements.  My goals do not include flying over the UK, therefore, if any of you know whether I would need to consider SKY DEMON, let me know that too.

I've flown in Europe with pilots using Sky Demon and it's great -- there.  I just got back from flying my Tiger from Maryland to Kansas and back using Foreflight while my European guest was following along with his Sky Demon, and it lacks a lot of functionality for the US NAS.  It also has no ADS-B-in capability.  If you live and fly in the USA, I'd say Sky Demon is a nonstarter.

Re: Best iPad Flight Planning/Tracking Software?

Posted by Brennan Callan on Oct 1, 2018 11:00 pm

Ron,
this is helpful feedback.  When I get around to buying some tablet and software, I have to avoid the problems this threaded discussion has covered.  It is good hearing not to buy Sky Demon.  Whenever I hear folks discussing products, I tend to bookmark them even if I am not buying them.

bye
Brennan