ForeFlight on Your Airplane’s MFD?

Aspen shows off its Connected Panel iPad gateway device.

Aspen Connected Panel
Aspen Connected Panel

At Sun 'n Fun Aspen Avionics was showing off its CG100 Connected Panel product in its Cirrus SR22. The device, which goes behind the panel and links to an iPad or other devices via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB, goes for around $2,500. Aspen expects it to be certified soon. Connected Panel allows the pilot to use iPad apps to do a variety of ingenious aviation jobs, allowing the iPad to serve as both input and display device.

On ForeFlight's Mobile Pro, which I used to test out Connected Panel, I could easily load full-route flight plans from the iPad's ForeFlight app to the airplane's Garmin GNS430W navigator. I could also do the opposite, loading the 430W's flight plan into ForeFlight. We were initially skeptical about the whole Connected Panel concept. After all, it seems more than a little unconventional to connect an iPad to the panel-mount avionics. In the world of certified avionics, there were always safeguards in place precisely to prevent such things from happening. But with Connected Panel, I found that my previous fears of accidental data entry or corruption were unfounded. From all appearance, the system works quickly, intuitively and securely to enhance the capabilities of the panel-mounted avionics without added risk.

Connected Panel also gives you a fabulous second display and input device, the iPad itself, to view data and make changes. On Foreflight, for instance, you can edit the flight plan graphically and then update the 430W’s flight plan with a couple of quick touches. Sure beats a lot of knob turning. And ForeFlight is just the beginning. There are Connected Panel apps in the works for data logging (AvConnect), engine monitoring (JP Instruments), data updating (Jeppesen) and document management (Sporty’s), among several others.