September 28, 2011
Tablet computer use reaching new heights with aviation students at K-State Salina
The use of tablet computers is taking off at Kansas State University at Salina, with aviation students and faculty using them to keep up with the aviation industry in the classroom and the cockpit.
"Our first-year students are using iPads in the Intro to Aviation class and ground school," said Tom Karcz, assistant professor of aviation. "Usage is starting to expand through the entire program as our certified flight instructors also use them, and other students have seen the benefits."
Students in Intro to Aviation take all of their quizzes and tests using the iPad, said Eric Shappee, associate professor of aviation and the class instructor.
"They are also learning the software applications on the ground so that they know it when they are in the air," he said.
"I use mine in the cockpit from run-up to shutdown on every flight. It's the best piece of aviation equipment I've purchased," said Jordan Cousland, junior in professional pilot, Beloit. "Mine is the 32 gigabyte with 3G, and I've yet to find any dead spots out there. I routinely have 5-meter accuracy with my 3G GPS on Foreflight, an aviation navigation app. Not bad for cruising in a Bonanza at 150-plus knots. And listening to Pandora Radio through the aux audio input on the G1000's is nice too."
"We can download our policy and procedure manuals and flight training manuals for the different airplanes onto our iPads so that we don't have to have paper versions of them," said Megan Henderson, junior in professional pilot, Topeka, and a K-State Salina certified flight instructor. "There are also a few different apps that students can purchase if they have 3G to use them. The apps will have weather, charts, sectionals and everything on them for a yearly or monthly subscription."
Students are still learning how to navigate the old-fashioned way, too.
"We still teach student pilots to plan flights using paper charts and sectionals because you never know when they might need to rely on the paper version to get them through," Shappee said. "And the iPad is definitely not a replacement for the plane's gauges and instruments."
Students are also finding uses for the tablet in many places other than the cockpit.
"I use mine in the cockpit primarily for navigation, charts and directory information, while in class it has
essentially replaced my laptop," said Zach Martin, sophomore in professional pilot, Ramer, Tenn. "I use it for anything from note-taking to completing online assignments, visiting websites and keeping up with my email. You'll see me flying with mine, in class, at home on the couch, or in my car at autocross events to record G-force graphs from cornering forces on the track."
Alumni are reporting back that knowing how to use the iPad in the cockpit is important for students to keep current in industry standards.
"There aren't very many flights that I don't use it on," said Collin Fisher, charter pilot and flight instructor for Lyddon Aero Center in Liberal and a 2010 K-State graduate. "It has saved me several times by looking up a point on high en route charts when it is too hard to find that point on a paper chart. It's just so nice to be able to type in the point in the search function and have it pop up, especially when air traffic control changes your routing into busier airspaces on the East or Wests coasts -- particularly when you're hurdling through the air at .77 Mach."
"It's extremely useful on the flight deck with all the manuals. We have an electronic flight bag onboard, but the iPad is much faster," said Reggie Redetzke, first officer for Emirates Airlines in Dubai and a 1995 K-State graduate. "Alaska is currently in a trial phase of using them as an electronic flight bag and we are considering it here. Plus, when you have a little down time there's nothing better than a game of Angry Birds."
In the last few months, Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines have announced that they are testing iPad usage in the cockpit, and United Airlines, Continental Airlines and Executive Jet Management, a division of NetJets, have announced that they are beginning to incorporate the technology in all of their flights.