Pass Abeam

How do you track directly towards your distant destination, but still have timing points along your route?

You could set up user waypoints along the way, but that could potentially be time consuming.  The answer is AvPlan EFB’s Pass Abeam feature!

Using large, easily visible features along your track you can maintain your straight-through track and still use those features to confirm your navigation.  In some instances, this will save quite a few track miles — therefore time, fuel and money!

For example, consider this simple VFR flight plan:


Note the Summary tells us that it is 225 NM, travelling via those turning points.

Now, try this:

Repeat the above procedure for any intermediate waypoints as appropriate.  Which will give us this result:

Note the overall distance has been reduced to 215 NM, but we still get to use those points as reference whilst flying our plan.

Any Abeam waypoints will be noted by (Abeam) appearing in the waypoint name field within the flight log, and on the map an ‘A’ will appear in the waypoint label before the identifier code.

You can even submit your plan with these type of waypoints.  When submitting your plan, those waypoints will automatically be sent in a format that will be understood by your local air traffic authority (for example, distance and bearing from the original waypoint).

To undo a waypoint that has been set to Pass Abeam, tap and hold its line in the flight log. Then select the option Overfly, that now appears in the same menu position that Pass Abeam held previously.

Give it a try on your next VFR cross-country!




Course Pointer

The course pointer is a favourite feature of mine.  At first it took me a moment to understand what it is telling me, but once I got my head around it I wouldn’t fly without it!

When you’re stationery, it is simply an extension arrow that points out a little bit forward of your aircraft.

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As you begin moving, the arrow begins to stretch out, then numbers appear.  These numbers represent minutes into the future – 2, 5 and 10.  This is your future projected position, assuming track and groundspeed remain unchanged.


This is constantly being recalculated and updated, so you may see the arrow grow and shrink as you fly along.

To turn it on, tap the Map Settings icon and ensure Course Pointer is ticked:


How could this be helpful to you in the cockpit?

An at-a-glance idea of how much ground you will cover in a certain time period – perfect for communicating with other pilots in the vicinity exactly how many minutes you will be when arriving at a particular place or feature ahead of you.


When Home is a Foreign Place

There are some things they can’t teach you in flight school.

An hour out of Kununurra in the heat of a Northern Territory afternoon, lone pilot Lauren McLean looked over her right shoulder at the coffin she was carrying back to an aboriginal community. “Well, this is real!” she said, trying to get comfortable with her unusual cargo.

Lauren grew up within a spanners throw of Moorabbin, the main General Aviation airport in Melbourne, Victoria, and was inspired to fly after attending airshows with her parents.

“I wanted to do aviation at uni, but there was no government assistance for that. I didn’t want to ask my parents for $100,000 so I did Mechanical Engineering at Swinburne. After 18 months post-grad working in the field, I returned to aviation and finished my flight training within a few months.

I was in the supermarket when I got a call from Steve at Shoal Air in Kununurra asking for my resume. He put me through my paces, asking why I deserved the job over anybody else. I told him I’d already worked professionally and the speed of my training proved I was serious,” Lauren says. “Kununurra was a huge culture shock. Of the 50 local pilots, only six are women. I had no aviation contacts and in a town that can be quite polarized, I had a heightened sense of personal security.”

On her first duty checked to line, Lauren saw that the white board rostered her to fly to YRSK. Bearing an iPad and paper charts, she looked up the airport, Ringer Soak, NT on Google Earth to get her head around the destination. With situational awareness so important in the Outback, Lauren admits that it’s important to have as much backup as possible.

“I was rostered to fly from Kununurra, 181 nm south to Ringer Soak, a tiny aboriginal community, to collect a couple of children who were departing for boarding school. I was advised to buzz the community to announce my arrival. I found the red runway slashed through the scrub, which I circled and then landed with my adrenaline running high. I got out and looked around at the old rusty drums of avgas and thought ‘Now what do I do?’

I opened the baggage compartment and waited.

After about ten minutes I heard cars in the distance and could see six cars with kids running either side of them. Maybe 30 people arrived. It was a huge deal. Two kids seemed to stand out—they were barefoot and one had a plastic bag of stuff and the other had a suitcase. They were all crying: the kids, the parents, everyone.

I couldn’t take it in too much at the time because I had to focus on flying the aeroplane and not be affected by it. On departure, everyone waved and some of the littlies threw rocks at the aeroplane. It hit me afterwards how different those kids are brought up.”

Unfortunately, Lauren’s young charges vomited all the way to Kununurra in the hot and bumpy conditions. Lauren felt as though she spent the first couple of months just trying to take it all in and her diary records a list of things that scared the living daylights out of her.

Having adopted AvPlan EFB after it was gifted to her on completion of her flight training, Lauren recalls a ferry trip from Kununurra to Coolangatta when the winds were 20 kts stronger than expected. Unable to reach her overnight stop at Mt Isa, she diverted to Tenant Creek using some fancy finger work on the iPad.

“That flight became an exercise in fuel management. As the Caravan uses Jet A1, I knew Tenant Creek was my only option. I put the diversion into Avplan EFB, rang the Ops manager who rang the fuel people, and landed. All the information I needed was on AvPlan EFB. I ended up staying the night, but the diversion was made all the more easy because I had the iPad. I quickly redid the flight plan and weather in the morning and arrived in Coolangatta that evening.”

Lauren is back home to complete her ATPL and instrument rating and looks forward to another season in the north. Even though she’s been quoted as saying, “I’m way too city for this…,” she readily admits she’s having the time of her life. And it shows on her face.

Screenshot 2015-10-12 16.07.04

Last Light into Coolangatta, Qld after a 15 hour ferry flight in the Cessna Caravan.

















Data Downloads

What do all those colours mean?

The Data Downloads page can give you an at-a-glance window into the data you have (or requested to have) stored on your device.  However, many users have not seen all of the possibilities that may occur in terms of the colour combinations on this page – so I thought I’d put a quick explanation together.

Data Downloads Screen

So, there it is!  All of the colour combinations on one screen.  …But what does it all mean?  Let’s break these examples down:



Clear (no shading)

Yet to be selected for download.



Deep Green

Fully downloaded and up to date – MegaVFR, EnRoute Low, ERSA (plus DAP for Pro and IFR subscribers) or AIP in NZ. Country Airstrip Guide subscribers will also have their pages downloaded as well.  This region will be included in updates when the Update button is tapped.



Light Green

This area has been downloaded, but set to Leave to Expire.  In this case, once the next round of updates arrives, the data is not renewed and eventually deleted by the app.  If you don’t wish this to occur, simply tap the region and select Do not expire section.  It will then return to a deep green state.



Light Grey

At some point, this area has been requested but the download has been halted or cancelled for some reason.  Either the internet connection was severed somehow, or the download has been manually cancelled by the user.  Look for this colour if you tap the Update button, and one particular area you don’t need keeps trying to download – a close inspection of the map will reveal it’s probably looking like this region.  Tap it and select Delete to prevent further attempts to download.




This area is downloaded, but there are updates pending.  This could be all components; or just one small part, like the ERSA for example.  Tap this region and select Download (or tap the Update button), when complete, it will turn deep green once again.




This region is in the process of being downloaded.  You’ll also see this reflected in the Downloading slider that appears from the right-hand-side of the screen.


So, if there is an extra region that seems to be always downloading when you don’t need it to, or one particular region isn’t behaving like you would expect – it’s because it has been set to one of the above colours at some stage (most likely the light grey).  This is easily fixed by identifying the region with a close inspection of the map, tapping it, and selecting Delete. Fixed!

Route Annotations

Hi Team,

Apologies for missing last week’s tip! My approach to Friday became unstabilised, so I’ve completed a go-around and here I am back for another landing. This one should stick! 


Route Annotations – These little signposts posted along your flight plan route can give you some important information about your vertical navigation and be a decision making tool.

Firstly, how to turn them on: From the EnRoute pane, tap the Map Settings icon (top right, two cogs). Then from the list, ensure Route Annotations has a blue tick against it.

Turn on Route Annotation visibility

“I have a route, but I still don’t see them!” I hear you say?

That’s because there is still two small but important ingredients left:

1) A cruise altitude must have been nominated in the flight plan (in order to see Top Of Climb/Top Of Descent), and

2) Fuel must have been loaded on your aircraft in the Planning > Aircraft Loading/Weight and Balance/Fuel Planning page (in order to see Point of No Return).

Example of Route Annotations along a planned route

“How are these calculated?”

The Top of Climb and the Top of Descent are calculated using the data provided in your Aircraft Profile. For example, if your aircraft cruise-climbs at around 600 feet per minute, make sure your profile reflects this for accurate TOC calculations. The descent is the same. When you are flying along and reach TOD, set your aircraft up in a descent similar to that in the profile. I usually set up a nice and comfortable 500 feet per minute descent, so that’s reflected in my aircraft profile, and therefore my flight plans.

Here’s an example with the route roughly lined up with the corresponding points on the Flight Profile view so you can visualise it easier:

Route Annotations Aligned with Profile

“But…What exactly is a PNR?”

The Point of No Return is the point along the stage of your flight plan that with the fuel load upon takeoff, you can fly to, turn around and return to your stage departure airport.  This can become a decision making tool, especially if you are flying over large bodies of water, for example.  A PNR may not be displayed along your route if you can easily make it all the way to your arrival airport and back to your original departure with that stage’s fuel load on board.

If you have a stepped climb planned within your flight plan, the TOC will display at the point you would reach your highest planned cruise altitude.

So, turn these on.  They are a very handy help to vertical navigation!