If you are using your sim to complement your real life flying, aviation training, or just learning as a student pilot, you likely have discovered the importance of a tablet in the cockpit. Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) today, substitute and greatly enhance what was in your actual classic and bulky flight bag not too long ago: charts, approach plates, checklists, an EB6 calculator, stopwatch, document binder, and airport and FBO information. If you have an internet connection while flying, you can get near real-time weather including Sigmets, Airmets, wind speed and, if you are filing an instrument flight plan, you can take down your clearance directly on the tablet, or even file your route electronically in the US. There are many more benefits that an EFB enables. Calculating the distance between two points is a breeze, just touch the two points with two fingers. Nearest airports? They can be permanently displayed, along with direction and distance. While you are on a final approach you can see your position displayed directly on the approach plate which is also superimposed on the IFR chart. This, in itself, is a huge safety feature. The more you dig in, the more you see how these are extraordinarily useful tools, making aviation so much safer.
On an airplane, you can greatly enhance the precision of your EFB with an external ADS-B/WAAS GPS receiver (What’s ADS-B? What’s WAAS?). You can also receive ADS-B traffic information and ground-based weather updates. Commercially available devices like the Stratus, or the DIY Stratux, feed information to your device via WiFi and even augment it with attitude sensor (AHRS) data. That means you can tell what’s up and what’s down in the event of instrument failure in your cockpit panel.
In the sim, data connection allows the simulation software to feed data into your EFB, the same EFB you use in the cockpit, in some cases including peripheral data (e.g. weather, traffic, etc.) as described above. If you can’t natively connect with P3D or FSX, try something like Xmapsy as the go-between your sim and the EFB. X-Plane is usually fool-proof as it can send data to a specific IP address or just broadcast it over the network. Make sure, however, that the sim and the EFB are on the same subnet. An EFB is a great way to make your sim time more enjoyable or, for many pilots, to learn the intricacies of their EFBs without leaving the ground. Either way, you will enjoy and benefit from learning how to use these amazingly versatile apps.
In this post we touch on some of the most used EFB’s available on the Apple store for the iPad. All are usable on the iPhone too, with a slightly different app and format to fit the more confined space. Before we do that, however, let’s take a look at most commonly used EFBs and their features and compatibility, click on the name for a link to its website:
|EFB site link||Entry Price /year - Max||Sim Supported||Geo-referenced|
Map - Plates
|Coverage||Instrument Panel/AHRS||Weather||Traffic||Synthetic Vision||IOS||Android||Windows||Free Trial|
|Aerovie Pro||69.99 or|
|FSX, XP, P3D||Y||Global||Y, PFD, Split Screen||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N|
|WingX Pro7||$ 74.99 VFR + 74.99 IFR|
Free Synthetic vision
|FSX, XP, P3D||Y||US||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||Y|
|Garmin Pilot||$74.99 - 149.99||Elite, XP, Other through interface||Y||Global||Y, five-pack||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
|ForeFlight||$ 99 - 299||Elite, FSX, XP, P3D||Maps. Higher plan for plates||Global||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N|
|Avare||Free, no ads||FSX, XP||Y||US||Y, PFD, Split Screen||Y||Y||N||N||Y||N||30 days|
|AVPlan EFB||Australia AUD 94 -239|
New Zealand NZ$ 119 - 219
US $ 39 - 149
Europe $ 159 - 1,299
Middle East $ 199
Worldwide from $ 149 per country/region
|FSX, XP, P3D||Y||Extensive, worldwide, per country, detailed||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N|
|FltPlan Go||Free, ads||XP. FSX, P3D GPS||Y||North America||Y, Basic six-pack||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||free|
|FlyQ - Seattle Avionics||$139||FSX, XP, P3D||Y||US||PFD||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N|
Aerovie has global coverage, which will appeal to non-US flyers, and a flexible subscription rate (yearly or monthly). For those who fly real airplanes, advanced features including automatic position relay via satellite and PIREPS filing are new. It is moderately expensive but it allows for a trial version. We like the menus at the bottom and the logbook function. Even on the trial version we were able to download and use georeferenced approach plates, plan a flight and connect to an X-Plane sim. Aerovie is full of features, such as a weather profile section by time of day along the route of flight.
For the simulator user with an interest in real aviation but not ready to pay on a yearly basis, FltPlan Go is the way to go. FltPlan is a Garmin company. Used by many real pilots, simple and free, this is a must-have in any case, as it potentially can back up any other EFB with an expired subscription. Easy to use, it downloads your choice of available public charts and approach plates (FAA, CAA) all again, at no charge. You will see some ads sprinkled here and there across the app, but nothing which will impair your navigation. Connecting to all three most used sims, X-Plane, P3D and the venerable FSX, it’s straightforward to use, albeit not as intuitive as other apps. Menus are nicely presented on the right side. Note, however, that it receives only position data (GPS) from the flight sim. Go has synthetic vision, georeferenced plates and, on your plane, it interfaces with most ADS-B and AHRS devices. Unfortunately, it is based on the US, with no worldwide coverage. Works on all mobile platforms.
FlyQ, Seattle Avionics
A very mature app, with US only charts, FlyQ is a professional app which syncs beautifully with any sim. FlyQ’s IFR subscription includes georeferenced approach plates. You can split the screen for a map + PDF configuration. It has a number of excellent features including traffic and weather fed via sim data. If you are on PilotEdge you will see their traffic. FlyQ is an excellent app for both simulated and real flight. It’s deep, however, as a result of many layers of features, and requires a bit of studying to be proficient with it.
Considered the leader in EFB apps, ForeFlight comes at a price: the entry-level IFR subscription doesn’t include georeferenced approach plates. For that, you will have to step up to the Pro Plus version which will also insert the plates on maps. However, the app is quite amazing and appeals to the frequent-flying pilot who wants a complete set of features. On the sim, you will have all data available to you including AHRS, traffic, etc. Overall, this is considered by many the best EFB money can buy.