New iPhone Applications for Garmin 430, 430W and Aera GPSs
by John M. White |
| 2 comments
Please welcome guest blogger, Max Trescott. He and I share similar views on aviation safety, and I asked him to stop by to tell you about his latest iPhone application for pilots. He’s the 2008 National Flight Instructor of the Year and blogs at MaxTrescott.com. Last week, the NTSB board held a meeting on their study of Glass Cockpit Safety in small planes. By the way, there is no precise agreement as to what constitutes a glass cockpit. Some people feel that having a GPS with a moving map qualifies, while the NTSB study only includes aircraft with a primary flight display (PFD).
In response to the NTSB meeting, John wrote about in-flight failures that can occur in glass cockpits. In my article about the meeting, I pointed out other statistics that the NTSB didn’t include that suggest that glass cockpit aircraft may be safer. Ultimately, the NTSB came to the same conclusion as similar studies: glass cockpits have the potential to increase safety. However pilots need additional initial and recurrent training to reap the benefits of these technologies. That synchs up with what pilots revealed in an online GPS survey I conducted last year. More that half the pilots surveyed said that they sometimes have difficulty getting a GPS to do what they want. The biggest problems were entering and using flight plans and finding infrequently used pages. Unfortunately, the increasing capabilities of modern GPSs and glass cockpits make it necessary for pilots to invest more of their time and resources in training to remain proficient with the systems. Checklists are de rigueur for flying airplanes and are becoming so for using GPSs. Since iPhone owners are passionate about their phones and always carry them, I created Max Trescott GPS Guides for the iPhone as a solution to the nagging problem of not knowing which button to push. They work equally well as illustrated self-learning guides and as quick reference checklists. You can read the detailed iTunes store descriptions of the newest apps for the Garmin 430 and 430W, and the new Aera series of portable GPSs. One of the problems of learning a GPS is trying to think like the engineer who designed the GPS. If you could, operating these systems would be intuitively obvious. You’ll be happy to hear that the guides are not organized like the GPS; instead they’re organized by function using a menu tree structure making it easy to drill down to find exactly what you need. Color screen images let you see how the GPS looks at each step in the process. As you can see from the video, the iPhone apps are more than simple checklists. Each page in the apps has detailed explanations and GPS screen shots, not just a list of steps. Tips are also included offering suggestions on how best to use the GPS. Like any proud parent, I think the apps are very useful. But the real measure is how iPhone-toting pilots feel about them. So far, one review is posted on iTunes. I don't know the guy, though he sent me a note on twitter after he posted it. In part, he said: “I've stumbled upon this app 24 hrs ago and decided to give it a try! I've spent a good 6 hours on it and can say that all the confusion that I had with regards to the 430 is a thing of the past!” I have a vision that one day glass cockpit aircraft will be so easy to operate that they fly almost accident free. In the meantime, pilots need to resort to good old fashion training and self-study. I hope my iPhone GPS Guides play some role in making the vision of safer flying come true. Regardless, give thought as to how you plan to improve your flying proficiency in 2010. Fly safely! Keep the blue side up! Max Trescott