Appareo Unveils Stratus Insight EFB App

 - March 31, 2020, 6:30 PM
Appareo's Insight EFB app offers a broad array of features. (Photo: Appareo)

Appareo yesterday released the first version of its new Insight electronic flight bag (EFB) app, the result of Appareo’s purchase last June of EFB app developer Aerovie. Insight combines Aerovie with Appareo’s previously developed ATC radio transcription and playback feature.

Insight is a full-featured EFB app with flight planning, synthetic vision, and ADS-B In traffic and weather enabled via Appareo’s Stratus receivers. Insight works with all generations of Stratus receivers and, for those with AHRS capability, the app offers a synthetic vision view with attitude display. Without the receiver, the synthetic vision still works, but without the attitude display.

Available for Apple iOS devices, Insight runs on the iPad and iPhone. All FAA Aeronav charts can be downloaded, including VFR sectional maps, IFR low/high charts, and georeferenced approach plates. A terrain database supports a terrain awareness and warning system-type overlay, and this provides visual and aural alerts when flying too close to the ground. Alerts are also provided to warn the pilot when nearing a runway while taxiing. All of the aural alerts are available via Bluetooth on compatible headsets and audio panels.

For preflight briefing and in the air, a vertical profile shows wind and weather conditions along the route as well as terrain. The weather displayed is from Airmets and Sigmets as well as CIP and FIP icing forecasts, and this can be viewed in real time or two hours before or after. A radar forecast is also available.

The vertical profile shows weather and terrain for the flight-planned route.

The most interesting feature added to Insight is Appareo’s ATC radio transcription and playback. This was already available in Appareo’s Stratus Horizon Pro app, but now it is bundled with Insight.

To use the transcription feature, the iOS device must be connected to the user’s headset with Appareo’s Stratus audio cable. The cable connects between the headset jack and the audio port on the iPad. For later-model iPads without the audio connector, a separate USB-C digital audio adapter is required.

Once connected, ATC audio communications are transcribed into text and displayed on the iPad, along with a button to play the audio. “This enables pilots to receive a clearance, ATIS, or other important ATC communications without needing to write them down,” according to Appareo.

The ATC radio transcription and playback feature helps pilots avoid misunderstandings and should make it easier to read back clearances.

The transcription is not just done word-for-word but gives pilots the familiar spelling of common terms, which is more easily recognizable. For example, instead of transcribing an altitude as “one zero thousand” (10,000 feet), the system writes it as “10,000,” which is much easier for a pilot to interpret. A call sign looks like a proper registration number—N2284Q—instead of “november two two eight four quebec.” A frequency is written as the actual numbers, for example, 120.4 instead of “one two zero point four.”

This capability was developed by Appareo’s artificial intelligence division, which uses machine learning technology to customize the transcription for aviation. “ATC communications present many challenges for these common speech recognition systems [such as Siri and Alexa]. The high rate of speech, noisy signal, narrow frequency band, and unique location identifiers are among those challenges,” according to Appareo.

“We began by designing a deep neural network and training it on thousands of hours of speech and hundreds of hours of ATC data,” said Appareo AI systems director Josh Gelinske. “Appareo then designed a custom aviation speech recognition system that was able to run on mobile devices without requiring cellular service or internet connection, so there would be no accessibility limitations during flight.

“Natural language processing is also used to interpret the output of the speech recognition system, to present it in a more pilot-friendly format,” he said.

Insight can be connected to flight simulators via Wi-Fi for training and practice on the ground. Insight is also the only EFB app that includes Apple Watch features, such as weather (metars, TAFs, radar) and airport diagrams. The Insight app also includes a checklist, logbook, and flight plan filing via Leidos. Price is $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month, and the audio cable costs $49.99.