Garmin Releases Major Upgrade of Pilot App

 - November 20, 2016, 11:48 PM
Garmin Pilot 8.5 allows users to select the optimum altitude based on forecast winds aloft information.

Garmin has released version 8.5 of its Garmin Pilot EFB app for the iPad, with new features such as integrated weight-and-balance, new performance tables, freehand flight plan editing and aircraft-specific checklists that can be modified by the user. Version 8.5 is a free update for current Pilot customers, and Garmin offers a 30-day free trial for new users. 

The weight-and-balance calculator doesn’t just provide a means of calculating aircraft loading, but it also is incorporated into flight plans or saved trips, according to Garmin, “taking into account fuel burn and more for a comprehensive look at weight-and-balance characteristics throughout an entire flight.” The calculator shows the change in loading with fuel burn during the flight, and the integration allows the user to select various fuel loadings that depend on the payload. Choices include maximum fuel and 30-, 45- and 60-minute reserve.

Performance information for a variety of piston aircraft, including weight-and-balance data, is already baked into Pilot. The user just has to add the empty weight and c.g. Users can add their own aircraft types, but Garmin plans to add many others in future versions of the app. User-developed aircraft types that aren’t included in the app can be shared with other Pilot users.

When planning a flight, pilots can adjust the power setting and altitude (from a list of various altitudes and forecast winds and temperatures aloft) and see instantly how that affects cruise speed and fuel burn. The initial fuel number comes directly from the weight-and-balance calculations.

While flying, if it is necessary to recalculate a route around weather, obstacles or airspace restrictions, the pilot can finger swipe a new route on the moving map using the new Freehand feature. Freehand doesn’t create new user waypoints but adjusts the route using nearby navaids, intersections and airports and adds these to the flight plan. 

The pre-populated aircraft in Garmin Pilot 8.5 now include interactive checklists “categorized by normal, abnormal and emergency and then sorted even further by phase of flight, such as preflight, before takeoff and before landing,” according to Garmin. 

Garmin has also added the ability to import multiple user waypoints using the CSV file format and to create flight plans online with AOPA’s Flight Planner or SkyVector. The app also has user-configurable home screen icons, which allow the user to move icons to new positions or reconfigure the icon layout into three, four (default) or five icons per row.