[OZAPRS] iPads in Flight

Darryl Smith darryl at radio-active.net.au
Sun May 22 19:37:42 EST 2011

For those of you who are interested in aviation, you might be interested in my flight back from Brisbane yesterday. The photos are on Facebook for those who are on there. Richard spent the week on the Gold Coast with his girlfriend and his two kids. They flew up commercial, and he flew himself up. So, I flew up to Brisbane on Friday commercial, and the plan was to fly to Hervey Bay on Saturday and head back today. Due to the bad weather north of Brisbane, we ended up flying home on Saturday.

Saturday I got a tour of 'Brisbane Centre', the Air Traffic Control for the northern half of Australia. This was rather interesting, and included the computer rooms which included lots and lots of communications links. The operations room is about 12m x 12m or a bit larger, and has people monitoring systems. What is really interesting is that there is a full time Telstra person in the room – 24/7. The air traffic control room is interesting – running on the EuroCats software. What is interesting is that they not only have backups for the ATC running eurocats, but they also have some other software with fewer capabilities that can be used basically to land planes but not much else. I have a feeling that this software ran under windows but I cannot remember. Some of the cabinets in the computer room are DIGITAL 19" cabinets.

Anyway, Richard picked me up at Brisbane Archerfield airport yesterday. This was an experience. The passenger terminal is Art Deco, and has been beautifully maintained. The waiting room is in red carpet with red velvet lounges. Sort of reminds me of a 1950's cinema.

Richard had emailed me the PDF of the flight plan, but unfortunately when I tried to download them, my email provider was having a midnight (US) upgrade on their exchange infrastructure. So we used Richard's iPad to view the PDF of the flight plan. I had installed a program onto mine called OzRunways ($50/year) that includes electronic copies of all the aerodrome charts and also the En-Route supplement. I had this app open on my iPad so I could hand it to richard showing the relevant flightpaths and airport procedures.

Once we were in the air, we both paired our iPhones with the aviation headsets. Being on Next-G, we had phone coverage most of the time whilst flying at 7000 ft. The calls were noisy but that is mostly engine noise more than anything else. 3G coverage was more variable, but it was good enough to upload photos to Facebook from the air, as well as to download a flight tracking app.

The plane has a transponder based GPS tracker called ADSB. Various people around the world receive this data and upload it. So I downloaded planefinder onto my iPad whist in the air and was able to see our flight via the Internet. Quite bizarre really. The iPad was connected to the internet via WiFi to my iPhone and then 3G to the internet. I love how this all just works. Google maps also worked, but there were times where I was moving too fast for the updates to download for the zoomed in level.

The world really is changing. The iPads had close to 10 hours of battery and were only backups for the physical charts we had in the plane anyway. They were not wired to the plane so any electrical issues would not affect them. They make flying so much more an enjoyable experience. Mind you, two iPads is probably a bit extreme


Darryl Smith, VK2TDS POBox 169 Ingleburn NSW 2565 Australia
Mobile Number 0412 929 634 [+61 4 12 929 634 Int] - 02 9618 6459
www.radio-active.net.au/blog/ - www.radio-active.net.au/web/tracking/
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