When flying IFR, one of the most important things is to know what your priority should be at any given time. Cockpit technology and autopilots today are highly sophisticated and can help you fly safer, but they won’t save you in every case. And while portable tablets have allowed pilots to carry much more information in a much lighter flight bag and can provide us with real-time data with a portable GPS or ADS-B unit, you need to make sure that the portable screen doesn’t distract you.
I recently flew with a student who owns an airplane equipped with a G1000 panel that includes the integrated GFC 700 autopilot, a package that makes flying IFR so much easier compared with round gauges that it could be compared with balancing on a sidewalk versus a walking on a wire. While the G1000 makes life a whole lot easier in the cockpit, the system will not keep you safe in all instances. Your job as a pilot is to manage the system, or it could fly the airplane right into the ground. And it will likely do so if you spend too much time looking at the iPad.
The G1000 student was doing just that. Even when established on the final approach path on the ILS approach into Long Beach, he was looking at the iPad. Portable tablets are terrific tools for setting up an instrument approach and to review the details of the approach, but once you’re on the approach your attention should be on the task at hand. Keeping aligned with the approach path and counting down to the decision altitude should be at the forefront while flying an ILS, not looking at the tablet. Remember, while you can track the airplane icon on the approach chart on the iPad it is not approved for primary navigation.
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