App Review: WingX Pro

Synthetic Vision and ADS-B weather on the iPad? You bet.

One iPad app we’ve written about in brief and liked in abundance is Hilton Software’s WingX Pro, designed by eponymous software maven Hilton Goldstein. Like its competitors, WingX Pro is a nav/charting/planning/database/safety utility app that seemingly does all things for all pilots for the slim price of $100 a year.

New to the app is something called synthetic vision. That feature will cost you an extra $100 a year. It has so far been a very popular option, Goldstein told me.

I’ll be honest: When I first heard that the company was calling this feature “synthetic vision,” I shuddered a little. In certified airplanes synthetic vision is a utility that plays on the primary flight display, the piece of electronic equipment for which the FAA demands the very highest standards.

That said, the company supports the use of an add-on attitude and heading reference system, the $750 Levil Technology (get it?) unit that is very clever and, of course, uncertified in any way, shape or form. The mini AHRS communicates wirelessly through the iPad with WingX’s synthetic vision display. The display looks great, and might come in handy as a last-ditch fallback if the certified equipment were to go belly up.

The syn viz does boast a terrain awareness feature of great value. As you fly along you can see the terrain and obstacles turn color — yellow for caution and red for extreme caution — as you near them in altitude. The animation is impressive, fast and sharp.

In addition, WingX has geo-referenced charts galore, airport surface charts, en routes, terminal procedures and scanned sectionals, all with the ability to superimpose your course and present position as well as live weather when paired with a supported receiver. For me, this is the core function.

There’s also weather. WingX Pro is the first iPad app that we know of with the ability to show free ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast) weather, when you pair the unit with an ADS-B receiver. (Others are working on this capability too.) ADS-B weather is, of course, limited to when you’re within range of a ground station; there are sizable coverage gaps. While the weather pales in comparison to XM satellite weather in terms of availability, quality of product and the number of weather products available, ADS-B does offer Nexrad and most other baseline weather products. ADS-B receivers start at around $750, though that price is likely to come down over time.

WingX Pro is fully customizable; so if you don’t like a feature, don’t use it. And the app has more features than anything else does (at this point anyway), and its flight-planning capabilities — textual and drag-and-drop — are very good, as is its weather utility. Plus, the ability to easily customize map screens and swap back and forth between full and split screens is great.

Despite stiff competition from ForeFlight and Garmin’s Pilot My-Cast, WingX Pro is still enjoying great sales success, in large part based on the company’s willingness to launch new features, like synthetic vision and ADS-B support, early in the game, a practice the ever-innovative Goldstein doesn’t intend to change any time soon.

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