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Garmin 296 Or Ipad Mini App?

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Recently I discovered why it is important to take your own GPS on a job. I am very comfortable using Garmin 296. I started looking on eBay and other locations for a good used. But to cut down on the amount of gear I am dragging around. I was wondering if anyone uses an iPad mini over a traditional GPS for bush flying? If so which apps are recommended for ease of use and waypoint sharing?

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Depends if you want a GPS or an app for your tablet. Smartphones and tablets are not accurate GPS's and are not designed to any real standard. Garmin is better.

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Devil's advocate from the iPad side...

 

We're required to provide our own GPS where I work. After quizzing a bunch of our pilots I decided on a retina iPad Mini. Opinions amongst the crew were pretty evenly divided between traditional Garmins and iPads, but given that it's company policy to use iBal, and we're constantly emailing messages, memos, flight plans etc., the iPad made the most sense for me as a do-everything device. YMMV, of course.

 

I use AirNav Pro as the mapping software, and I also downloaded some Canadian topo map overlays, as these added better elevation data than the basic maps that are available. A few of my coworkers use Foreflight which is a very powerful all-in-one flight planning tool, but more useful for the airport-to-airport crowd and less so for those of us that are out in the bush. Foreflight include the latest VNC charts and stuff, but it cost more up front and requires a yearly subscription fee. AirNav pro is a one time $50 charge, and the app can be used across any of your i-devices. There's also airport information and frequencies and stuff, and VNC charts available, but I don't know how up to date it is. There is a way to easily - and wirelessly - share waypoints through the internet, but I can't recall the method offhand.

 

I'm a low timer and don't fly as often as our regular line pilots, but it works very well for me so far. They don't like temperature extremes - a couple guys have had theirs shut down after leaving the iPad in the dash mount while parked facing the summer sun. Same goes for extreme cold. The battery will last for an average day, but have a backup power plan. Most guys have some sort of a 24v to USB plug setup; I carry a big portable battery that's good for a couple full iPad charges and several iPhone charges.

 

GPS accuracy is a non-issue, IMHO - the iPad will resolve down to a few metres which should get you close enough. I will say that the Garmins look more durable - I've seen more than a few cracked iPad screens floating around the hangar from drops in the dirt.

 

Bear in mind that not all iPads are created equal... the wi-fi only iPad does not have GPS capability on its own and will require a 3rd party dongle to receive GPS signal. The LTE/cellular iPad does receive GPS, and does NOT need a data plan subscription to do so.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Darren

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Thanks Darren, you've brought up some good points. I forgot about the temperature sensitivity of the iPad. Mine would not work the other day while trying to take some pics in the cold.

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Does anyone have experience with the Garmin Pilot App in the VFR world? I am with Darren with foreflight being good for airport to airport for the IFR guys and gals.

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ForeFlight has worked well for us at Aircrane.....but it is more user friendly with a 2 pilot cockpit and yes, we do find it very useful away from airports on fires and construction jobs. As the company provides 2 IPads per aircraft, you had better look after them while you are on that aircraft....which means yes, do not leave them in extreme temps or just asking to be stolen out of the cockpit.

We just had a memo reminding us that.....don't piss off the C.P. !!!!???!!

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Devil's advocate from the iPad side...

 

We're required to provide our own GPS where I work. After quizzing a bunch of our pilots I decided on a retina iPad Mini. Opinions amongst the crew were pretty evenly divided between traditional Garmins and iPads, but given that it's company policy to use iBal, and we're constantly emailing messages, memos, flight plans etc., the iPad made the most sense for me as a do-everything device. YMMV, of course.

 

I use AirNav Pro as the mapping software, and I also downloaded some Canadian topo map overlays, as these added better elevation data than the basic maps that are available. A few of my coworkers use Foreflight which is a very powerful all-in-one flight planning tool, but more useful for the airport-to-airport crowd and less so for those of us that are out in the bush. Foreflight include the latest VNC charts and stuff, but it cost more up front and requires a yearly subscription fee. AirNav pro is a one time $50 charge, and the app can be used across any of your i-devices. There's also airport information and frequencies and stuff, and VNC charts available, but I don't know how up to date it is. There is a way to easily - and wirelessly - share waypoints through the internet, but I can't recall the method offhand.

 

I'm a low timer and don't fly as often as our regular line pilots, but it works very well for me so far. They don't like temperature extremes - a couple guys have had theirs shut down after leaving the iPad in the dash mount while parked facing the summer sun. Same goes for extreme cold. The battery will last for an average day, but have a backup power plan. Most guys have some sort of a 24v to USB plug setup; I carry a big portable battery that's good for a couple full iPad charges and several iPhone charges.

 

GPS accuracy is a non-issue, IMHO - the iPad will resolve down to a few metres which should get you close enough. I will say that the Garmins look more durable - I've seen more than a few cracked iPad screens floating around the hangar from drops in the dirt.

 

Bear in mind that not all iPads are created equal... the wi-fi only iPad does not have GPS capability on its own and will require a 3rd party dongle to receive GPS signal. The LTE/cellular iPad does receive GPS, and does NOT need a data plan subscription to do so.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Darren

Darren , I notice Air Nav Pro is available on google play. Do you know anyone using it on an android device for comparison to an Ipad?

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I'm not sure about Air Nav Pro and Android - everyone I work with uses either an iPad Mini or some sort of Garmin.

 

- D.

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Garmin Pilot app. Free 30day trial. Looks and feels like other garmin software devices. Everyone's going to the subscription model. Expect to pay yearly for any services going forward.

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My experience comes from the fixed wing side but I've used both. The short answer is that a stand alone unit is better and safer.

 

I'm currently using an ipad at one place I work part time because I got the ipad for free so when I needed my to supply my own gps it was cheaper to buy a Bluetooth add-on gps (garmin glonass) than a new garmin stand alone.

 

The ipad is OK but not great. The first gen ipad mini is kind of slow to reload pages so I'd avoid it if you do go the mini route. I've run Air Nav pro and Garmin pilot and I wouldn't want to rely on either. I've had multiple software crashes with both over the last few months and one experience in Air Nav pro where the software indicated it still had gps signal but what was happening on the moving map was certainly not what was happening outside the aircraft. With Air Nav pro you can download the 1:250 000 topos which have a lot of detail but other than that they aren't easy to read when you're flying and trying to keep your head out the window. There's 100m contours but no terrain shading so a quick glance doesn't let you know what the terrain around you is doing. The WAC charts have a more intuitive terrain shading (being made for aviation), but the scale is not ideal (1:100 000 000), and in my current area (Vancouver Island) the georeferencing of the WAC is about a half mile off, which is huge. Canadian VNC's are not available at this time.

 

All map downloads for Air Nav pro are essentially image files so all the text doesn't reorient itself so you can read it in any map orientation. There is a terrain data base you can download but I've found that small islands in the ocean that may rise up a couple hundred feet do not even make the database. If the app has the breadcrumb trail feature that can be very useful (especially for you guys crawling up and down the mountain sides in the fog), I haven't found how to turn it on.

 

Garmin Pilot is again, just OK. You don't get nearly the same level of map detail as you would with their own stand alones and the subscription is expensive for the product you receive. This is annoying because you know it's intentional on their part because they want to sell their own units.

 

Another ipad mini negative, with the first generation anyway, is the major screen glare.

 

The 296, 396 and 496 are all good units that have stood the test of time but they are getting long in the tooth. If you have the space to mount one (could be tricky in a helicopter) and a sturdy mount that can handle the weight go with a 695. The 795 is by all accounts a great unit as well but I think touch screens are a disadvantage for heads up flying. With actual buttons (especially the dial on the 695), you can operate the unit more easily with just quick reference glances. At my primary flying job we've got a 695 in every machine and I couldn't be happier with them.

 

To sum up I think the ipad as a primary GPS is really better for the enthusiast than the professional. Given a few more years this may no longer be the case, but it is right now.

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