Since AvPlan EFB was launched in 2011, we have helped thousands of pilots transition from paper maps to electronic flight bags. We’ve heard every possible question and still wait to hear one we would consider invalid.
We appreciate that every pilot uses their EFB differently; some transition slowly, keeping paper maps as a back-up, others take one giant leap into electronic land. Some like every feature we build switched on and others prefer to keep it simple.
One thing I have noticed, time and time again, is that users who don’t feel more than 50% comfortable using the app tend to get caught in an EFB no-man’s land – they’re happy to use their EFB for flight planning on the ground, but are nervous about using it in flight in case they accidentally tap something and lose their map.
While we encourage all new users, or those transitioning from another EFB, to experiment with AvPlan on the ground, the most invaluable way to become comfortable using the app is to take it flying in the right hand seat.
Despite being a relatively confident user myself (as you would expect of an AvPlan team member) when I had the opportunity of a right hand seat trip in a Cirrus last week, I jumped at the chance. A DAME friend – and ex-Qantas pilot – invited me along as he flew his regional route from Bankstown to Mudgee, Temora and Cowra.
As it was a 40 degree day, we both experienced iPad overheating and although we had five devices between us AND a full Avidyne glass cockpit, it was an interesting lesson in the importance of back-up. It was also a great chance for me to break out the tablet and trial our Android version, which was a perfect back-up for the trip to Cowra. I noticed with interest that the tablet didn’t overheat once and decided there and then to keep a cheap Samsung back up device with me on all summer trips.
As a VFR pilot, I am incredibly comfortable with AvPlan in the cockpit for my own personal flying, but I seldom get the chance to experience an IFR flight alongside a professional pilot, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of using AvPlan with a little in-flight pressure.
The return leg from Temora to Cowra and back to Bankstown was entirely in IMC, and the right hand seat experience gave me an opportunity to practice diversions, plan alternates and source approach plates, radio frequencies and weather information. The flight gave me the need to access all our weather information, including the infrared satellite, ceilings and visibility forecasts as well as usual animated weather radar overlay.
Having a reason to fly using the ERC rather than the Mega VFR map was a new experience, as was using the georeferenced approach plates directly on the map. A flight in IMC is a full workload for any pilot and having the chance to give AvPlan the full workout was invaluable.
I encourage every user to take the opportunity to give AvPlan EFB and themselves a little right hand seat time.