In the language of ITIL, the bible of IT Service delivery there is this concept of “Fit for Use” and “Fit for Purpose”. Fit for Use simply measures whether a product or service can function. Fit for Use takes it to the next step of measuring the capability of a product compared to its intended use.
For example Powerpoint is a functional piece of software (fit for use) and is an acceptable presentation tool (fit for purpose). But some people attempt to use it as an image editing tool because that is all they have – that is a purpose it really isn’t fit for.
For all my talk of the iPad, there was a stated purpose that I had hung a large part of my purchase on. Can the iPad be my Electronic Flight Bag. Saturday, I finally tested that premise with a short but practical field test. A short sightseeing flight with a passenger in one of the club airplanes.
Now the actual in airplane usage is only part of the flight bag concept. Much of staying current as a recreational pilot is staying aware of the rules, regulations and changes in airspace. In Canada, that means dealing with Transport Canada and Nav Canada information.
Transport Canada has done a good job of getting the basic information out in the form of theTransport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual. While the basic rules don’t change that often the Information Circulars and the Supplements need to be reviewed regularly. For example Information Circular 11/10 lists changes to the airspace around Vancouver and Victoria that will affect my future flights which will show up in the new map I need to buy after July 19th. All this information used to be part of a tedious paper process that would fill a small garbage can every 56 days. These PDFs combined with GoodReader on my iPad is a more than capable substitute although I may end up using iBooks which now also does PDFs. The advantage of Goodreader is it will pull these right down from the website.
NavCanada data is a little harder to come by. They have put up basic information such as the Airport Diagrams but you still need the official documents in hard copy. Carrying the hard copies are going to be the rule for the foreseeable future but it would be nice to have a quick reference version (free or paid). I’m really hoping the folks at Foreflight can get a agreement for Canadian charts and info in there excellent iPhone and IPad application. I was able to use the moving map display as part of the US charts overlap Victoria, which is an awesome cross check to the printed charts, but less useful once I get near Naniamo (CYCD).
What Foreflight can provide in Canada is the Weather information I would have collected from the Flight Planning website. Long gone are the yellowing rolls of teletype paper that was the standard up to the 1990s. While I had this on the iPhone for the last year, the iPad takes it to a new level. The graphical forecasts such as the Graphical Area Forecast and the Surface Analysis. It does have NOTAMs but I still would rely on the NavCanada website for that. I printed out the local NOTAMs for last Saturday’s Flight. Foreflight does provide some airport data but not enough to replace the Canadian Flight Supplement (CFS).
I will admit that it was a little more of a reminder to read all this aviation information when those piles of ammendments were siting on my desk. However, The iPad combined with some reliable sources of PDFs and live information does give me a better chance of finding something when I do go looking for it. I’m counting on that making me a safer and more informed pilot, which in the end makes me more fit for my purpose – every time I get in the airplane.
PS – Canadian Owners and Pilot Association has an electronic version of their COPA Flight newspaper. Although it is a Flash version online, I was able to generate a PDF to sync to iBook on my iPad.