Chapter 1218

Willow Springs, Missouri

 Comparison of Aviation Navigation Apps

 

Comparison of Aviation Navigation Apps

by Lindall Baker


Introduction

 

Tablet computers are becoming more useful in airplanes now than ever before. This is mainly because of the advances in the tablet technology which leads to more useful software applications. I loaded six of the most popular aviation navigation applications for tablet computers and smartphones on my computers and evaluated and compared them. The evaluation covered nearly all aspects of functionality, robustness, ease of use, and compliance with aviation requirements. As a certified software quality engineer, I probably tested these apps to a tougher standard than would be done under everyday usage. The main points of the evaluations are listed. A matrix was used to display the comparison of features between the apps. Note: This comparison is of the application features only. It does not include the ease of use of the apps or the function of the GPS hardware. The ease of use may be evaluated in the near future.

 

A non-aviation navigation app was also included as a more economical alternative to the other full-featured apps. The results aren’t nearly as impressive, but the cost is low and the maps are free.

 

Some features could not be fully tested without a full (and expensive) subscription and/or dedicated proprietary GPS, but the documentation was reviewed to determine functionality and ease of use of those features.

 

UPDATE: The evaluation of iFly GPS had to be terminated because of a technical issue.

 

The Applications (with my abbreviations)

 

Application Platform

 

Garmin Pilot (GP) iPad and Android

FlyQ EFB (EFB) iPad

ForeFlight (FF) iPad

WingX (WX) iPad

iFly GPS (iFLY) iPad

Voyager (VOY) Windows

Memory-Map (MM) iPad, Android, and Windows

 

Common Application Features

 

AHRS (Attitude and Heading Reference System)

 

AHRS was an option with some of the apps and generally requires input from a GPS source such as the Garmin GDL 39 3D or the Stratus 2, that output attitude from built-in micro-gyros. The AHRS functions are augmented by GPS data. The display is typical of the attitude display available on glass panel installations.

 

Airport Information

 

All apps had this except Memory-Map

Flight Planning

 

All of the aviation apps had some form of flight planning. Memory-Map uses routing and waypoints.

 

GPS Navigation

 

All of the apps offered GPS navigation with map graphics.

 

IFR Charts and Procedures

 

All apps had this except Memory-Map

 

Synthetic Vision

 

All of the apps except Voyager and Memory-Map offer the new Synthetic Vision. This is displayed as a forward facing 3D view of the horizon with geographic features graphically represented. Most man-made features are excluded with the exceptions of airport positions, obstructions, and runways. Voyager does offer a 3D forward view of the terrain, but not as detailed as the others.

 

Terrain and Obstacle Awareness

 

All of the apps had this except Memory-Map

 

Traffic Awareness

 

Traffic awareness is available on Garmin Pilot if ADS-B input is available from an external source such as the Garmin GDL 39 receiver. The GDL 39 3D receiver also include AHRS data output.

 

ForeFlight and FlyQ EFB have traffic awareness if connected to a Stratus 2 GPS receiver.

 

FlyQ EFB also has traffic awareness if connected to a NavWorx ADS-B receiver.

 

WingX states that it connects to various ADS-B receivers, but the option for traffic display could not be found on the application.

 

Voyager does not support ADS-B or AHRS.

 

Weather

 

Weather information was available on all of the apps except Memory-Map. Real-time weather was available if an external source such as an XM weather receiver or ADS-B receiver was used.

 

Application Feature Comparison

 

Settings

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Flight condition color

X

 

 

 

 

 

Automatic Safe-Taxi On/Off

X

X
X

 

 

 

Navigation bar On/Off

X

X
X

 

X

 

Flight plan filing On/Off

X

 

 

 

Terrain alert On/Off

X

 

 

 

Traffic alert On/Off

X

X

 

 

 

Display position On/Off

X

X
X

 

 

 

Ownship icon selection

X

X
X

 

X

 

SV rolling indicator selection

X

 

 

 

Aircraft setup

X

X
X

 

X

 

Pilot setup

X

X

 

X

 

User Waypoint Display On/Off

X

X
X

 

 

 

Units setup

X

X
X

 

X

X

Subscription status

X

X
X

X

X

 

Manual weather refresh

X

X

X

 

Courseline setup

X

X
X

 

 

X

Map ring setup

X

X
X

 

 

 

Grid (SAR) option

X
X

 

 

 

Obstacle display On/Off

X

X
X

X

X

 

Traffic filter

X

X
X

 

 

 

Map view direction

X

X
X

 

X

 

Route label On/Off

X

X

 

 

 

Hazards altitude selection

X

 

 

 

Extended runway centerlines

X

X
X

X

 

 

 

 

 

Routing / Flight Planning

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Wind optimization w/ speed

X

X

X

 

Wind optimization w/o speed

X

 

 

 

Keyboard waypoint entry

X

X
X

 

X

 

Map waypoint entry

X

X
X

 

X

 

Map waypoint insertion

X

 

X

 

Graphical route editing

X

X
X

 

X

 

individual leg altitude

X

 

X

 

Approach pattern auto-routing

X

 

X

 

Route profile

*1
X

X

X

 

Preferred arrival runway

X

 

X

 

Runway winds

X
X

 

X

 

 

 

*1 – on Measure tool

Map

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

VFR digital

X

X

X

 

VFR sectional

X

X
X

X

X

X

IFR digital

X

 

X

 

IFR low

X

X
X

X

X

 

IFR high

X

X
X

X

X

 

WAC

X

 

 

X

Streets map

X

 

 

X

Aerial

X

 

 

 

Canada VNC

*1

*2
X

 

 

 

Extended runway centerlines

X

X
X

X

 

 

Radar overlay

X

X
X

X

X

 

Lightning overlay

X

X

 

 

 

Airmet / Sigmet overlay

X

X
X

 

 

 

Terrain awareness

X

X
X

X

 

 

Traffic awareness (*3)

X

X
X

X

 

 

Clouds / satellite overlay

X

X
X

 

X

 

TFRs

X

X
X

 

X

 

Obstacles

X

X
X

X

X

 

Obstacle information

X

X

 

 

 

Winds aloft

X

X
X

 

X

 

Graphical winds aloft

X

 

X

 

Altitude AGL display

X

X

 

 

 

Fuel prices

X

X
X

 

X

 

Procedure overlay

X

 

 

 

SAR grid

X
X

 

 

 

Smart airspace

X

 

 

 

Weather radar loop

X

X

 

X

 

Graphical route edit

X

X
X

 

X

 

Screen lock

X

X

 

 

 

Night mode

X

X
X

X

X

 

 

 

*1 – Jeppesen subscription

*2 – BC and lower portion of provinces

*3 – with ADS-B receiver

 

Airport Information

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Runway winds

X
X

 

X

 

Flight conditions

X

X
X

 

X

 

Safe Taxi diagrams

X

X
X

X

X

 

Split screen with map

X

X

X

 

Access from map

*1

*2
*3

*2

*2

 

 

 

*1 – touch

*2 – double click

*3 – Touch and hold

Procedures / Charts

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Geo-referenced charts

X

X
X

 

X

 

Overlay on map

X

 

 

 

Split screen on map

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

Traffic Awareness

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Traffic display

X

X
X

X

 

Traffic page

X

 

 

 

Split screen with map

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

Terrain Awareness

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Terrain page

X

 

 

 

Terrain overlay on map

X

X
X

X

X

 

Split screen with map

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Synthetic Vision

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

SV display

X

X
X

X

X

 

Split screen with map

X
X

X

X

 

Traffic display

X

X

 

 

 

Terrain awareness

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Split Screen with Map

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Route Info

X

X

 

X

 

HSI

X

 

 

 

Gauges

X

 

 

 

Widgets

X

 

 

 

 

 

Other

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

Flight plan filing

X

X
X

 

X

 

Weather images

X

X
X

X

X

 

Scratch pad

X

X
X

 

X

 

User Waypoints

X

X
X

 

X

X

Track logging

X

 

 

X

Subscription status

X

X
X

X

X

 

Connection status

X

X
X

X

X

 

 

 

Subscriptions

 

 

Function / Option

GP

EFB

FF

WX

VOY

MM

VFR maps and sectionals

S

VFR
Basic

VFR

VFR

Basic

Obstacles

S

VFR
Basic

VFR

VFR

 

Weather images

S

VFR
Basic

VFR

VFR

 

Weather Information

S

VFR
Basic

VFR

VFR

 

Notams and TFRs

S

VFR
Basic

VFR

VFR

 

Flight planning

S

VFR
Basic

VFR

VFR

 

Terrain map

S

VFR
Pro

VFR

 

 

Terrain / obstacle alerts

VFR

VFR
Pro

 

 

 

Geo-referenced Safe Taxi

VFR

VFR
Pro

IFR

IFR

 

IFR charts

S

IFR
Basic

IFR

VFR

 

Geo-referenced procedures

IFR

IFR
Pro

IFR

IFR

 

Synthetic vision

VFR

VFR
ProSV / BasicSV

VFR

 

 

Canada VNC

Jep

VFR
Can

 

 

 

Canada SV

Jep

VFR
CanSV

 

 

 

 

 

Subscription Costs

 

 

Garmin Pilot

Abbreviation

Module name

S

Standard
75

VFR

Standard + VFR
125

IFR

VFR + IFR
150

FlyQ EFB

VFR

VFR
70

IFR

VFR + IFR
120

ForeFlight

Basic

Basic
75

BasicSV

Basic + SV
100

Pro

Pro
150

ProSV

Pro + SV
175

Can

Canada
150

CanSV

Canada + SV
175

WingX

VFR

VFR
75

IFR

VRF + IFR
150

FUEL

Fuel prices
30

Voyager

VFR

VFR
80

IFR

VFR + IFR
180

Memory-Map

Basic

Map importing
*25

 

* one time cost

 

Evaluation Results by Feature

 

The most obvious differences in the applications could be grouped by platform. The iPad apps definitely had better graphics than either Windows or Android.

 

As stated earlier, Memory-Map is not an aviation app, so it’s lack of features was not surprising. It does have very good graphics and easy to use map display. It is also the cheapest.

 

Settings

 

Garmin Pilot, FlyQ EFB, and ForeFlight had all of the essential settings, although Garmin Pilot had more setting options in general. WingX had very few settings options.

Flight Planning

 

FlyQ EFB and ForeFlight were tied in this category. FlyQ EFB had some good features like the extensive route leg setup with wind information, map waypoint insertion, and individual leg altitudes. ForeFlight used wind speed and direction in the route information as did WingX and Voyager. One of the best features of this category was the route profile display by ForeFlight, WingX, and Voyager.

 

Map Features

 

Garmin Pilot was the leader in this category, but ForeFlight and FlyQ EFB were tied for second place. WingX was last.

 

The distinguishing features of Garmin Pilot that gave it the edge were the excellent digital VFR display, the Smart Airspaces, and the panel displays including HSI, analog-type gauges, and route widgets.

 

FlyQ EFB had the best wind information including runway winds, procedures overlay on map, and graphical winds aloft.

 

Airport Information

 

FlyQ EFB and Voyager had the best airport information displays, with ForeFlight next.

 

Additional Features

 

Garmin Pilot had the best display of traffic and terrain with dedicated split screens for each. It also had the best AHRS which included a slip indicator and movement trend indicators.

 

Garmin Pilot, FlyQ, and ForeFlight shared the honors with the best Synthetic Vision including runways. Garmin Pilot and FlyQ displayed traffic on the Synthetic Vision page.

 

ForeFlight was the only aviation app to offer track logging.

 

Subscriptions

 

If basic VFR is your only requirement, FlyQ EFB is the best choice for number of features and lowest cost of only $70 per year. That includes geo-referenced airport diagrams and synthetic vision. It also includes Canadian VNCs and Canada Synthetic Vision (of the lower portion of the provinces).

 

Next choice is Garmin Pilot with basic VFR for $75 per year and terrain/obstacle alerts and geo-referenced airport diagrams for $25 per year more.

 

Voyager was next with a cost of $80 per year for VFR, but does not include AHRS, synthetic vision, or geo-referenced airport diagrams.

 

The most expensive was ForeFlight for $175 per year including hazard alerts and synthetic vision.

 

 

Contact Us:

 Chapter: EAA 1218

 President: Thomas White

 Phone: 417-233-1218

 Address: 810 Bryan Street, Willow Springs, MO 65793-3475

 Location: South Central Missouri, USA

 Email:  eaachapter1218@gmail.com

 

Hints for Homebilders videos at eaa.org