iPad Buzz Resonates, But Will It Fly?

There's an old joke about a down-and-out guy during the Depression hawking apples for $500 each. His response to the obvious question: "Yeah, but I only have to sell ONE." Well, in the midst of the 21st century Great Recession, people lined up last weekend to buy Apple iPads at around that price, and this is no joke. The technology looks like it's here to stay, so should we, as pilots, respond to the iPad frenzy? The best move for now might be no move at all. The 3G version of the iPad, with built in GPS receiver, is not due to ship until the end of this month. Mavens are saying that, though about $130 more than the current WiFi-enabled version, the 3G might be worth the extra money and the wait. It will, however, require a data plan from a mobile phone carrier. The good news is that there are about 350 aviation-related applications (apps) written for the 3G iPhone that will also work on the larger, higher-resolution screen of the iPad. Most app developers will doubtless modify their products for the larger iPad screen. Among the aps that are already iPad friendly are weather provider MyRadar Pro, at least two e-chart programs and multiple functions from Foreflight, including weather briefings, airport directories, flight plan filing and a moving map. Another promising role for iPads in the cockpit could be as the high-rez display for other onboard technology, such as portable collision-avoidance products. With 10-hour battery life, the iPad could prove to be a versatile cockpit tool. For more information on aviation-specific information on iPads, a good site to check is www.aviatorapps.com. There you'll also find a YouTube video on using the iPad as an electronic flight bag (EFB).