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For those who fly with just an Ipad :) (shutdowns at high or low temperatures, and GPS losses)

Both my iPads (old models, 1& 2) have internal 3G/GPS and work well in the 172 and the PA28, usually on the (empty) passenger seat or on my knee. I’ve never had a temp related shutdown, even in 40 deg Louisiana. If the sunlight is too bright, I put the ipad in use in the passenger footwell lodged against the sidewall and facing me. None of these locations lose GPS signal in my experience, except in NZ where momentary loss of signal does happen.

Regarding temp and altitude, even in 40 deg Lousiana the 10,000’ temp is lot more comfortable for man and machine. There’s no class ‘A’ until 18,000’, another reason why the US is a better place to fly.

However! There are plenty of other ways ipad can screw up. For instance, just the other day in Poland, the primary ipad running SD announced it had no maps loaded! Some SD weirdness ( there are plenty of these!) to do with loss of wifi travelling from the terminal to the aircraft while 3G was present but not registered with the local carrier. Fortunately backup ipad worked OK. Foreflight on the other hand has never shown any weirdness, but I did once forget to load the next sectional (didn’t notice until I zoomed in) so had to fly low into a valley to get 3G and download the map.

But the message is that all these gadgets will fall over eventually. They will often choose the most inconvenient moment, like SD automatically switching to an illegible VFR approach plate when just entering the control area. Or the time I physically broke the charging connector in flight. My policy is to have a paper map, with lines drawn on, no matter how out of date it is (try to add any corrections from SD in the hotel) And flight following. And the 430 in the panel. Etc. I also carry a 10AH battery pack fully charged.

PS I’m assured by SD that the SD wierdnesses referred to above don’t happen!!!. iMHO it’s still the best innovation in European VFR flying since the radio, despite the ‘head in the sand’ support!

EGBW / KPRC, United Kingdom

I don’t use an iPad for any use that requires it be on at all times. I use a white case and keep it out of direct sunlight by covering it with a white cloth when I am not looking at it. My usage is more like a paper map that is folded away most of the time, but available when I need it. I do not consider the iPad to be industrial strength and use panel mount display data for navigation, weather, and traffic, although using the weather on the iPad is useful, but only needed intermittently. With the FlightStream flightplan transfer capability, I find the iPad very helpful in reroutes and entering routes into the panel mount. In general, I find the iPad a great tool for obtaining information, but not one that is continuously used. I also carry two iPads and an iPhone 6+, all fully charged before a flight. I will normally use the charger to extend the life of the battery charge

The reason that the ipad and other portables shut down due to temperature is related to the battery, not the electronics, No one wants a battery to explosively ignite due to thermal conditions.

KUZA, United States

NCYankee wrote:

I don’t use an iPad for any use that requires it be on at all times.

that’s the important point. for various reasons. most importantly:

  • a tablet that is always on invites head down time, which is bad IFR and especially bad VFR. i have seen pilots flying a traffic circuit in awe, as they observed their own-ship-position move perfectly along the drawn line of the circuit on the moving map, not once looking outside. under IFR scanning of the certified primary flight instruments and nav equipment is paramount.
  • a tablet that is only periodically “opened” for a short time basically eliminates the largest consumer of energy and generator of heat: the screen.

it doesn’t mean that you can’t run the software continuously when you lock the tabled. e.g. skydemon will happily continue to track in the background, record your flight, be instantly available when unlocking the screen. most other nav software i know does too.

on my recent scotland trip i would use the ipad for the following in-flight:

  • have skydemon running in the background
    • for taxiing on the ground with own-ship position
    • for flight tracking
    • for identifying cities and interesting landscape features
    • airspace awareness should i change to VFR or OCAS
    • search for waypoints not on the planned route
  • have Jeppesen FlitDeck running in the background in case plates unavailable in printed form are needed.
  • use goodreader to access briefing / wx info previously downloaded
  • use it with the satphone to download METARs

i would open the ipad on average every 10 minutes for a minute or so. sure, the primary nav provider was the on-board GNS430. under VFR and/or without the GNS430 the frequency would certainly be higher, but not by much. even under VFR, the tablet allows you to check your next heading, take a reference point outside to fixate the track, close the tablet, check back in a couple of minutes.

for two legs on the same day with a total block time of 6 hours this resulted in a battery usage of 35%. i am sure the figures are similar for any tablet used in such a way.


Pilots staring at their iPads in the pattern are even more scary than the idiots I see (almost daily) on german highways – driving while using their smartphones …

I have my iPad running all the time when in flight with the screen on. Only ever had a problem when in direct sunlight. Otherwise fine.

EGTK Oxford

Which aircraft type is that in, @JasonC?

I would agree that if there is no sunlight there is no problem, but in a light GA type (big windows etc) this is hard to avoid.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

There are thousands and thousands of pilots flying in GA aircraft using iPads in the US. And no, they don’t all fall out of the sky, crash into cumulugranitus and bust airspace all the time because their iPads overheat. Just sayin’……..

@Peter Mirage, Meridian

EGTK Oxford

Turning down the screen brightness helps with the temp problem, an doesn’t seem to effect readability too much (once there are no reflections).

EICL Clonbulogue, Ireland

172driver wrote:

There are thousands and thousands of pilots flying in GA aircraft using iPads in the US. And no, they don’t all fall out of the sky, crash into cumulugranitus and bust airspace all the time because their iPads overheat. Just sayin’……..

Although true, it is also true that the most common complaint about iPad usage in the cockpit is over heating. Second is power consumption and third is sun light readability. They are simply not up to industrial standards to be used continuously for an application such as traffic awareness or primary navigation. They are great for certain applications, but IMHO are seriously lacking as a replacement for panel mount equipment.

KUZA, United States
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