Airway Manual on the iPad offered by Jeppesen’s Mobile FliteDeck

 - August 26, 2011, 7:30 AM

Jeppesen’s Mobile FliteDeck went live on Apple’s AppStore on July 25 and had been downloaded more than 3,000 times before Jeppesen formally announced the iPad app’s release three days later. Mobile FliteDeck builds on Jeppesen’s Mobile TC, which displayed worldwide terminal charts on the iPad, with new functionality, including en route charts and geo-referenced (own-ship) position display on GPS-equipped iPads.

Mobile FliteDeck is a complete cockpit paper replacement, replacing all Jeppesen paper charts in an Airway Manual subscription, worldwide. Even better, the own-ship position feature works anywhere in the world, as long as GPS signals are available. The own-ship locating feature can be switched off to satisfy regulators who are unhappy with geo-referencing on iPads (considered a Class 1 EFB). Unlike most iPad moving-map apps, Mobile FliteDeck does not have the own-ship on-off in its settings; the own-ship setting must be changed in the iPad’s native settings, under the JeppFD sub-setting tab. Note that own-ship position display is on en route and airport charts, but not on approach charts. Own-ship position display on approach charts is planned for sometime in the future, according to Jeff Buhl, senior manager, enterprise solutions. “When Jeppesen displays the aircraft position on our charts and data-driven en route solution,” he explained, “we engage in a process with our human factors and internal standards team to ensure that what and how we display the own-ship is unambiguous and provides increased situational awareness for the pilot while maintaining a simple and clean user interface. As a company, we could have displayed the aircraft position on our terminal charts, aside from the airport diagram, but did not feel we had met the high standard we are setting for our mobile solutions.”

The entire Jeppesen worldwide subscription–including terminal and en route charts and Airway Manuals for all regions–fills just 1.5 gigabytes. A variety of subscriptions is available, starting with the lowest-cost regional Express, which costs $76 and covers roughly a two- or three-state area in the U.S. The Mobile FliteDeck app is a free download, and any Jeppesen electronic chart subscriber can use an available product key to download the same subscription on the iPad for no additional charge.

Information Display

Touching an airport, airspace, airway or other object detail on charts pops up information about that object, including restrictions, frequencies and so on. When the element is airspace, the selected airspace turns purple to highlight the area being viewed. The popup information box does have one annoying drawback; it often covers the airspace that you’re trying to view. Hopefully Jeppesen’s app developer team can fix this and allow the user to touch the info box and slide it out of the way, allowing a view of the information along with its associated airspace. That capability would make this highlighting feature even better.

The app also offers map feature filters, to make viewing complex areas simpler. Buttons on the right bottom side of the app allow easy removal or addition of filters for airports, airways, waypoints, navaids, airspace and terrain.

Jeppesen doesn’t yet offer flight planning on Mobile FliteDeck, but the app will highlight a route, including on either low- or high-altitude airways.

One interesting thing that you learn when plotting routes in Mobile FliteDeck is that there are duplicated waypoints. For example, tagor on V120 east of Seattle is also found on Spain’s west coast.

While looking at Spain’s version of tagor, I tried to return to the Seattle area by typing KSEA in the search field. The popup box offered Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as one of the options, but touching that didn’t move the en route map to Seattle. I finally found that zooming way out so I could see the west coast of the U.S. showed that KSEA was highlighted, so the search function did find the airport, but for some reason didn’t move the map.

Another minor annoyance is that you can’t quickly pull up airport terminal charts while viewing an en route chart. The only information available when viewing an airport while an en route chart is displayed is that airport’s “General,” “Runways,” and “Comms” information. To pull up terminal charts you have to go to the Airports button, then type the airport name into the Airport’s search box. It would be quicker and less confusing to offer the same airport information from any search field; maybe this is another item that Jeppesen’s designers will fix.

Overall, Mobile FliteDeck is another example of Jeppesen’s careful approach to app design. That Jeppesen was able to keep the worldwide Airway Manual database to 1.5 gigabytes is a remarkable achievement. And it doesn’t stop there, as Jeppesen plans to add more features later this year, including flight planning and graphical and textual weather data. Under consideration is connection to inexpensive ADS-B receivers that are now available for the iPad and to Baron Services’ Mobile Link XM WX satellite weather receiver. Jeppesen is also planning to make Mobile FliteDeck available on Android tablets.

A piece of big news for Jeppesen Services Update Manager (JSUM) users is that the company finally is acknowledging the growing use of Apple Macintosh computers in the business aviation community. Jeppesen is planning a Mac version of JSUM, available sometime next year.

Jeppesen also announced a partnership with Flyvie’s video/audio flight recording system. Flyvie will integrate its system with Jeppesen’s flight training products.