Apple products and IOS, are in a large part well-integrated and streamlined solutions in highly-specialised fields like aviation. Currently, on the Australian market, Apple sells the Ipad Pro in 12.9 and 11-inch displays, the iPad Air in 10.9, the iPad in 10.2 and the iPad mini in 7.9-inch configurations. The mini is without a doubt one of the most utilised tools in aeroplane and helicopter cockpits. With such a rich app ecosystem, including apps like Flightradar24, Weatherzone, AvPlan EFB, Live ATC and hundreds more allow you to track your flight, have basic or detailed navigation and traffic info, flight charts and maps, provide live weather info, airport reports and so much more. Having so much info at your fingertips in an organised, accessible unit needs to be secured during all stages of flight. Here, we’ll take a look at different accessories for apple and android devices used during flights.
Portable Cockpit Accessories
Let’s start from the basics. To safely use iPads, tablets or phones that are not standard dash equipment, these need to be secured either to panels by way of mounts, or kneeboards. They need to be accessible at all times, without getting in the way. Cases of different sizes, and appropriate for different cockpit types will house and shield the device of your choice.
Kneeboards are essential products any pilot needs, regardless of experience. Various items, like charts, documents, paperwork and devices will be within reach, visible and organised. Kneeboards strap onto the thigh, with basic variants organising only the essential stuff, whereas specialised kneeboards like the iPad mini kneeboard helicopter suited to different aircraft types and with all the bells and whistles.
Standard kneeboards come in the form of metal clipboards, with elastic or Velcro leg bands. These are good for organising and entering basic flight data into charts, or accessing flight plans and maps. Even the cheapest models will include some form of adjustability, so comfort and ergonomics should not be an issue. For better storage look to standard kneeboards with multiple compartments, like pockets and pouches. Some may include foldable sideboards for a smaller footprint.
Kneeboards for Electronic Devices
Kneeboards for iPads, particularly the iPad mini because of its small dimensions, can make for a far better organised and easily navigated workspace to include all info readily available on paper. There are boards available for different devices, ranging from small phone kneeboards to those fitting the newest and largest iPad pro.
Features to look for include adjustable elastic or Velcro straps that fit on either leg. You’ll see tensioners that can be tightened at multiple points on more expensive models. Also, customizable kneeboards have reversible designs meaning that being left or right-handed should not impede your ability to access basic info in flight.
Base plates or cradles should fit the device you regularly use without the need for protective casings. Larger cases can come with fillers and can fit smaller devices. For instance, kneeboards that can carry 11-inch models have no issues with the iPad mini, iPhone or Android devices. Some bases may include pivoting, which easily turns the device from portrait to landscape orientation. This is helpful when accessing maps, or flight traffic. Devices can be easily turned to any angle, while also remaining firmly on the thigh. Like standard kneeboards, device boards can include more compartments to fit compatible devices like phones or pens, or notepads and books.
Materials are durable and reliable yet lightweight. They include plastics in cheaper models to composites and metals in mounting plates and clips in more high-end variants. Prices vary according to size, materials and features. A well-designed iPad mini kneeboard helicopter board, with standard features, can be bought for a little under $100, while those with reinforced materials, reversible placement and additional compartments and front shielding will set you back as much as $300.
Direct sunlight can affect readability, so having a protective case that reduces glare is a must. These are relatively cheap and will fit into the mounting points or clips of device kneeboards
Besides using your tablet or Apple device on a dedicated kneeboard, you may wish to secure it to a panel on the dash. There are a wide variety of mounting options. Panel mounts and cradles are can firmly hold a variety of devices, allowing you to easily insert, use or remove the devices at any angle or distance. Composite materials feature tilting and swivelling arms, so you get safe operation and the highest visibility. Mounts with suction cups are also sold and are used in smaller aircraft cockpits without suitable mounting points.
When buying electronic flight bags and mounts, the first thing you need to consider is the data you regularly use. Device kneeboards, like the iPad mini kneeboard helicopter will be considerably costlier than the standard kneeboards, though offer greater flexibility in terms of data organisation and space. Features and materials are carried on in the price, and so is the size of the device you’ll be using. Major brands to look for in Australia include RAM, MyGoFlight and Pivot offering a range of kneeboards, mounts and other accessories at selected aviation stores.