BATTLE CREEK, Mich.—With advancements in mobile computing technology, the days of pilots carrying aboard a flight bag brimming with maps and other navigational materials are quickly coming to an end, and Western Michigan University's College of Aviation is on the leading edge of that change.
As part of its iPad initiative, the college has entered into an educational licensing agreement with ForeFlight LLC, a leader in the development of mobile apps for pilots.
With ForeFlight's app, pilots have access to weather maps, instrument procedures and a host of other vital navigational and flight-planning information on an iPad that weighs less than two pounds versus a 40-pound flight bag that takes up space and can lead to back strain in the cockpit.
"The ForeFlight Mobile product provides a very wide variety of flight publications electronically that a pilot can reference for information and navigation purposes," says Capt. Steve Jones, WMU executive director of flight operations.
"The iPad can hold a library of reference material used in the process of learning how to fly, but the ForeFlight app is arguably the cornerstone of iPad utility as an electronic flight bag, or EFB. ... The app presents all the approach plates, departure procedures and route maps in a way that is extremely powerful," Jones says.
The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of approving the use of tablet computers as flight bags in an increasingly large number of corporate and commercial flight organizations, and they are quickly gaining acceptance in the industry.
"We are thrilled to have Western Michigan University's College of Aviation as a member of ForeFlight's Educational Licensing Program,” says Tyson Weihs, CEO of ForeFlight.
“The college pioneers new methods of instruction that are designed to improve the pilot’s ability to fly and work efficiently, and this vision is aligned with ForeFlight's goal of making pilots more productive before and during flight," Weihs adds.
The addition of the ForeFlight app to the WMU training regimen continues the University's commitment to ensuring its students use the top technology available. For the past seven years, WMU's aviation college has used a fleet of Cirrus aircraft equipped with one of the industry's most sophisticated avionic systems to train its flight students. College officials maintain that their technical equipment is four to five years more advanced than that used by any other collegiate flight program in the world.
ForeFlight builds intelligent aps for pilots. The company’s critically acclaimed, highly rated and best-selling apps are used by individual pilots and professional flight operations to efficiently gather preflight weather information, plan flights, conduct preflight research, file flight plans, keep charts and terminal procedures up-to-date, and manage iPad deployments.
The company’s flagship product, ForeFlight Mobile, was named Best App of 2011 by Aviation Consumer and received Flying magazine's Editor's Choice award. ForeFlight Mobile is consistently ranked the top-selling iPad aviation application in the App Store. Dozens of operators using ForeFlight Mobile have received OpSpec A061 approvals for use of ForeFlight in phases of flight.
Western Michigan University is learner-centered, discovery- driven and globally engaged research university with an enrollment of 25,000. The University provides its undergraduate and graduate students all the advantages and resources that go with being one of the top 100 public universities in the nation. Students in WMU's College of Aviation prepare for careers in aviation with a revolutionary new curriculum built around skills the airline industry knows its future employees should have. They get practical training using the nation's finest aviation facilities.