Tuesday, November 16, 2010

iPad in the Cockpit --- SkyRadar?

In the writeup on the use of Foreflight in the cockpit, one of the things I noted was the lack of in flight weather information.  I also noted the poor quality of iPad's built in GPS.  Both are really hardware limitations.  Apple's refusal to provide a serial stack for bluetooth means no hope of compatibility with existing weather solutions currently available.  And the same also goes for the inability to use cheap but accurate external WAAS GPS receivers.


A potentially interesting solution comes to us in the form of SkyRader:
http://www.skyradar.net/skyscope-receiver.html

The SkyRadar receiver, gets around Apple's hardware limitations in an interesting way.  Rather than using Bluetooth, it broadcasts WAAS GPS and ADS-B data over WiFi.  Which opens up the possibility for real time traffic and weather, not to mention a more accurate GPS.

To be sure, we aren't sure how WiFi signals will affect cockpit avionics.  And ADS-B rollout won't be complete for a few years yet. So the full utility of this device is still a bit of an unknown.  But at least this is an indication that people are thinking of creative ways to get this data into the cockpit.

When the ADS-B final rule was announced, there was quite a bit of clamor about having to shell out a significant amount to upgrade avionics, for not much benefit.  Well we can always hope that solutions like this will come along that would allow GA pilots to take full advantage of ADS-B, at a price point that won't break the bank.

If anyone has tried this device, and has any pireps on it, please let us know.

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