Avilution™ is about pilots creating software for other pilots. Our mission is to take not only our own ideas, but those of our customers and translate them into applications to make pilots lives easier. We strongly encourage our users to tell us what they like and don’t like about our software, and what other products they want us to deliver.The primary focus of Avilution is on Android based phones and tablets.
Most of our products are Android applications available for download from the Android Market, typically for $4.95 or less. Some applications require asubscription to run or provide additional benefits when the subscription is present. The Avilution basic subscription is $4.95 per month and includes access to all Avilution subscription benefits across all Avilution products. One subscription is required per-person, but may be used by a single user on multiple devices.
With such low prices, it takes a lot of users to move the needle, but our mission is to provide so much value in our applications and subscription that every pilot with an Android phone will purchase them as a “no brainer”.
Q: What devices do you recommend?
AviationMaps works on a wide range of Android devices running Android 2.2 or later. Many of our customers use us on their phones as a backup to their primary source of information. We regularly test our applications on a Galaxy Nexus and Samsung Galaxy Vibrant, and occasionally on other phones. We have a ton of users using various devices from Motorola and HTC as well.
There are a wide range of tablets out there. In general, any tablet from a reliable manufacturer will work just fine; if you’ve heard of the maker it should be safe. Low end tablets from no-name manufacturers often don’t have enough RAM in them to work properly, however.
Smaller 7” tablets are very popular as they seem to fit into many people’s cockpits. We fly with the 7” Galaxy Tab regularly, so it is very well supported. The Kindle Fire works great and is cheap. Be aware that it does not include an internal GPS, however. Viewing charts works just fine, but we won’t show where you are on a chart.
We also test on 10” Motorola Xoom devices, and a number of our customers have reported very good luck with 10” Samsung tablets. The ASUS Transfomer is known to work well, but don’t get a second generation one with a metal back as the GPS has known problems; there is a version with a plastic back which is reported to work fine. Toshiba and Acer tablets have poor GPS reception as well.
Q: How much storage space does AviationMaps use?
It depends on how many states charts and plates you want to store on your device. It’s hard to give precise numbers, but if you downloaded our full data set, including sectionals, low altitude charts, high altitude charts, and a full set of approach plates for the United States is around 8 gigabytes, so any device with 16GB of storage is fine. You can also use external storage cards on many devices; we suggest using a card of 16GB or larger.
If you don’t fly outside of your home region, you will use substantially less storage space.
Q: When are you going to get FAA approved?
The short answer is we’re not. The slightly longer answer is the FAA does not approve devices of this type (portable electronic flight bags) for Part 91 operators.
The longer answer is to a different question: Am I allowed to use this in flight? We are not aviation lawyers by any means, but our understanding is that if you fly under Part 91, it is up to the PIC to both determine the safety of devices used in flight (ensuring they do not interfere with any aircraft system) and to have all information available which is necessary for the flight. The regulations do not mention paper charts or electronic charts; that is a decision left to the PIC. It is clear, however, that no portable device can be used a primary source of navigation information; only panel mounted, certified devices can be used as navigation sources. This applies equally to our solutions and portable GPS units which are aviation specific. The FAA has published an Advisory Circular which provides guidance on using portable electronic flight bags.
There has been quite a bit of publicity about tablet devices being approved for cockpit use by the FAA, but those approvals are for Part 121 and Part 135 (charter and transport) operators, and those approvals are for particular operators, devices, software, and aircraft. This type of approval does not apply, and is simple not relevant, for Part 91 operations.
Q: Why does the distance between two waypoints seem to be really far off?
If you have selected “Track Position” and have a valid GPS fix, the app behaves like a GPS and shows the distance and bearing in the active flight leg as relative to yourcurrent position. If you have selected “Don’t Track Position” then it operates as though in a flight planning mode and the waypoint distances are relative to each other.
Q: How can I improve my GPS reception?
We have had reports of success using various Bluetooth GPS receivers. We’ve also had quite a few people report that TetherGPS works well. It is an application which broadcasts an Android phone’s GPS position over WiFi and allows other Android devices to use that for location. For Kindle Fire devices, which include neither GPS nor Bluetooth, this allows them to have location information. While we don’t test any of these approaches, they seem to work well for our customers. We recommend installing “GPS Status and Toolkit” to improve the performance of in-phone and in-tablet GPS’s.Please remember never to try to use a phone or tablet’s GPS for navigation! They often are just not very reliable or accurate!
Q: What geographies do you cover?
We cover areas which the FAA charts through its AeroNav division. That primarily means United States (including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico) and its territories. We do have chart coverage (sectionals and enroute) for portions of Canada and Mexico but approach plates are not available. If you live in an area where electronic charts are easily available please let us know and we’ll look into supporting your region.
Q: Do you support real time weather?
We are currently working with Baron Services to support their MobileLink product for weather delivered over XM Radio by WXWorx.
Q: Do I have to have an internet connection to use your application?
You do need a connection to download data, but that data is stored locally on your device and is fully accessible in flight without an active connection.
Q: AviationMap isn’t in the Android Market? Why? How do I get it?
Google wants to charge us a significant amount of the recurring subscription revenue to be in the marketplace and doesn’t have a mechanism to support a subscription billing model anyway at this time. We feel like their interpretation of their policy in the specific example of AviationMaps is discriminatory against us (there are obviously dozens of other applications like DropBox, NetFlix, New York Times, etc which all use the same free-app, subscription service model) because we were were trying to get them to fix problems with their Google Checkout product in which under certain circumstances, without manual intervention, customers were being billed twice for their orders. Google has rejected or ignored every effort and business model we have proposed so far been unable to propose way to implement a subscription model (at any pricing structure) that resolves the issue.
To keep things still available (and at the same price and convenience), we’ve had to post the application on our own web site, http://www.avilution.com and encourage users to download updates directly from there.
You can install from the link on our home page, but make sure you enable “Unknown Sources” under the Application settings on your device. You can also get our application via the Amazon App Market if your device supports that.
Q: AviationMap isn’t in the Amazon Market? Why? How do I get it on my Kindle Fire?
For some reason Amazon hasn’t made our app available for the Fire. We really have no idea why, and when we’ve asked we were told to “be patient”. For now you can install directly from our web site but be sure to allow third party applications in the settings menu.
Q: If AviationMaps app crashes, how do I send you a crash report?
Install the application “alogcat” from the android market. Immediately after the aviationmaps crash, launch the application and send us the your debug log by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: What about georeferenced approach plates?
We are considering supporting these in the future, but we don’t want to make this change until we see how the FAA will change the distribution and pricing model for the electronic products we rely on.