Your Inflight Weather Monitorby Dan Leonard
The Apple iPad continues to gain relevance in the cockpit and has already proven itself as a very practical and cost-effective tool for pilots as a flight-planning and chart-reference device. As new apps and services are developed, the iPad’s role in the cockpit is becoming more important every day.
Recently, Sporty’s has been promoting the sale of its new Stratus receiver. This $800 receiver allows Foreflight, a popular flying-related app, to display weather on the iPad while in flight! Although the price tag seems high, the good news is that this receiver obtains its information from the free ADS-B ground-based service. That means you avoid the monthly fees required by an XM service. As another benefit, this receiver also provides a WAAS-enabled GPS signal that interfaces well with Foreflight on your mobile device.
I purchased one of these Stratus receivers, and after multiple flights in various aircraft, found the system to work very well. Within the first 1,000 feet of your climb out, your iPad starts receiving weather information through the Stratus ADS-B receiver. The receiver works well, without having to be placed up on the glare shield of the aircraft. In fact, we placed it inside the glove compartment of the aircraft, and it still received a good signal! The Stratus receiver connects to your iPad through a wireless signal. This allows for multiple iPad, iPhone, and/or iPods to display weather, with only one Stratus receiver onboard the aircraft.
As with any other electronic device, this iPad/Foreflight/Stratus combo has its costs as well as its limitations. However, we believe this system can certainly serve as an excellent resource for any pilot and, in particular, for those pilots who tend to fly cross-country or IFR, or who simply enjoy electronic gadgets.