It is eerie to hear that pilots require tablets for their inflight use.

Some questions arise, for instance, what features are essential for a pilot. Also, what are the requirements that make the best iPad for the pilot?

We will also discuss how having an iPad can benefit the pilot. The best element can be having navigation besides the navigation provided in the cockpit.  

Moving on, we will explore all the aspects and find why and how any random tablet can be the best iPad for the pilot.  

What Makes the Best iPad for Pilots?

Recently, iPad has become an essential gadget for pilots. They have made the flying experience more convenient for pilots.

Identifying what works best for you extensively depends on your airplane. Since it also depends on the size of the cockpit – you can opt for a tablet with smaller or bigger screen size when decisive about routes and carriers.

Similarly, for students iPad with a large screen could be a nuisance. However, the 8-inch iPad mini could be the perfect fit.

An iPad Pro 12.9 works fine for seasoned pilots who fly commercial airplanes. It fits in the cockpit and leaves them to explore more options while flying.

But most pilots do not opt for a big screen. Since the cockpit is full of gadgets and controls, there is not much room for movement.

Also, check for the recent updates of the software if they do not confer with the iOS. The best iPad model must be updated with current software, so it doesn’t clash with the software required for pilots.

Why Do Pilots Require an iPad for Flying?

When about to fly, pilots are given various charts, indicators, metrics, and guides for the flight. This information is provided on paper, strapped on a clipboard.

While flying the plane, it gets challenging to manage the pile of papers. No one can get lucky like Halle Berry and find the right sections in book mid-turbulence.

Hence the new shift in going green has been noticed. It works both ways; it is also adding ease, as it is the one gadget that facilitates various needs.

Today, pilots use iPad for navigation and traffic. In addition, various software is used to handle multiple segments of a fly session.

Foreflight is one of the best apps available in the Apple store for Navigating through airspace and monitoring traffic.

Hence pilots require a decent-sized screen to view the map of the sky. Zooming in midflight is not advisable; therefore, look for an iPad with decent screen size.  

iPad Mini, iPad Pro, or iPad Air? Which Suits the Needs of Pilot?

All Apple products have different specifications and features. So which is the best iPad for pilots? Read on to find out.

Apple iPad Mini

It is a tiny tablet so far made by Apple. Apple’s iPad mini is becoming famous in the pilot circles due to its size.

In addition, the retina display makes the iPad mini very clear and precise for the pilot to view the map midflight. The iPad mini unlocks with quick TouchID, making it very accessible for pilots. Additionally, it supports 10 hours of battery life.

The cockpit is highly crowded with dials, navigation, and controls inside. Hence, it is best to have an iPad that fits all cockpit sizes.

The new iPad mini comes in 32GB storage space. In addition, it works on both external GPS and Wi-Fi. The size also works well for the travel bag, as it doesn’t take up much space.

Usually, new pilots and students prefer to have a larger screen. But that can also be alternated by zooming in on the screen, as larger screen tablets make the cockpit crowded.   

If the pilot has space in the cockpit, they can opt for other models that support an 8-inch or bigger screen size.


  • 64GB
  • Small clear display
  • Wi-fi 6 and Gigabit LTE Cellular Data
  • 12MP back camera
  • USB Type C charging
  • Apple pencil
  • M1 chip


  • May require charging for long flights

11-inch Apple iPad Pro, Wi-Fi & Cellular

Apple iPad Pro in 11-inch display comes with a liquid retina display. It also includes ProMotion, Truetone, and P3 wide color. These features give the display the life and color used in the dark cockpit.

The iPad Pro comes with ultrafast Wi-Fi and 5G. It works well for pilots as they require to use inflight cellular service.

However, the ultrafast Wi-Fi helps the pilot connect to software at the airport. They can also check flight schedules and routes, mark attendance, and check for flight weather details.  

The iPad Pro comes with secure authentication with a face recognition application making it easy to use. Apple iPad Pro has an M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and GPU.

It gives a complete 10-hours of battery life. Moreover, with the Thunderbolt port, the iPad Pro gives the speed of 40 Gbps bandwidth for wired connections and docking options.  


  • 11-inch display
  • Thunderbolt port
  • Four speaker audio
  • M1 chip, 8-core processor


  • Slightly expensive  

WiFi & Cellular Combined 10.2-inch iPad Air

The first thing that one notices about iPad Air is its excellent GPS reception and Wi-Fi compatibility.

An inflight cellular network is used during flights due to Wi-Fi unavailability. But the GPS reception of iPad Air is immaculate. Moreover, it works on LTE gigabit-class cellular data.

It supports a consistent 10-hour battery life and charges full strength within 40 minutes.

The second prominent feature is its crisp and clear 10.2-inch retina display. True Tone and liquid retina display facilitate the pilot for a clear view midflight.

It can also be used in conjunction with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. The device can only be unlocked with TouchID making it secure – since it contains many sensitive documents and details in ForeFlight.  

Lastly, iPad Air is integrated with an A13 bionic Chip, including Neural Engine. Having 256GB, sort all the storage space needed for the pilot.


  • 10.2-inch display
  • LTE gigabit cellular reception
  • A13 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
  • Up to 256GB of storage


  • Apple Pen and Magic keyboard are omitted  

Pilots 2022 Buyer’s Guide

This guide will explore all the essential aspects and features of an iPad for pilots.

Wi-Fi or Cellular Model

Routinely, an iPad in flight is used with inflight GPS; hence having a GPA receiver is crucial. Unfortunately, the often iPad doesn’t come with Wi-Fi or a GPS receiver.

That leaves you with two options. Either you can opt for an iPad with built-in GPS, or if you plan to get an iPad without external GPS, you may require investing in a GPS module.

Having an iPad without a GPS receiver isn’t worth it. Because when you are inside the tarmac or cockpit, you cannot update attendance, charts, check the weather, or NOTAMS.

During the flight, naturally, there is no wifi. And all our internet needs rely on having a GPS module in the iPad.

While flying, pilots require to use ForeFlight for navigation and monitor air traffic. Moreover, the iPad pilot news application is used to receive the news important for pilots in mid-flight.

Overall, an iPad with both GPS and Wi-Fi is suitable for pilots.

What is an ADS-B Receiver?

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is the latest technology. It is used for surveillance to facilitate midflight. It monitors and reports an aircraft’s location or position via satellite navigation.  

It also gives the pilot complete access to Traffic Information System-Broadcast (TIS-B).

TIS-B gives complete information on ground track, speed, altitude, and distance of other aircraft flying on the radar. For example, the distance within 15-nautical miles is observed at 3,500 feet above or below the aircraft position.

ADS-B receiver is often used in conjunction with software such as ForeFllight or Garmin, on the iPad.

Storage Capacity

Depending on the nature of work, you may need to opt for an iPad with decent storage space. There are various options like 64GB or 265GB.

On a regular day, many pilots need to keep certain things on their iPad. Such as:

  • Company’s Terms and conditions
  • Manuals
  • Charts
  • Navigation apps
  • Company’s designated software
  • News and weather forecast applications
  • Some PDF files
  • PDF books

Also, it depends on the carrier you fly. According to this air transport service, whether it’s for commercial air transport service or general aviation, the routes vary.

Most commercial air transports consist of both long and short routes. General aviation is a hobby or private air transport and caters to short routes.     

Usually, 64GB iPad may be insufficient storage capacity. But if you are traveling primarily around shorter routes, it may be a suitable device for you.

The best option is an iPad with a good and extendable storage capacity. Since it is carried around all the time, you might use your iPad as an available device.

Size of iPad

Generally, for the pilot, a decent-sized tablet works fine. Somewhere between 10 and 12 inches is a good size.

Naturally, the size of the iPad varies with the change of display size.

Some pilots are comfortable using more giant screens ranging between 10-16 inches. This selection is also based on the space available in the cockpit.

All recent makes of Boeing have a sophisticated and less cluttered cockpit. In that case, the big screen will not be in the way.

However, if the pilot is flying a small helicopter, there isn’t much space, and smaller screens are preferred.

Sometimes, pilots hoist the tablet on their kneeboard, and knowing that the kneeboard is the only place to keep the iPad inflight, a small iPad mini would suffice.    

Hence, it is crucial to know what type of aircraft you will be flying mostly. In addition, the knowledge will help determine the size of the iPad to take for the next journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a kneeboard?

It is a board strapped around the thigh, with space to hoist a clipboard or iPad. Some pilots use a kneeboard to strap the iPad to keep it within reach midflight. They are considered a safer option compared to suction and yoke mounts.   

Q. What is better, Android or Apple iOS, for pilots?

A. If using ForeFlight is a requirement, Apple iOS is a better choice. ForeFlight is not available on Andriod iOS. When using Andriod, Garmin Pilot is an ideal option. However, most aviation companies are inclined to use iPad compared to Andriod.

Q. What are the most used apps on iPad by pilots?

A. Pilots nowadays are using:

  • Foreflight
  • SkyDemon
  • Garmin Pilot

Q. Why do pilots use an iPad nowadays?

A. Previously, pilots had some paperwork, charts, and documents to take along on the flight. Nowadays, the tablet has replaced the never-ending paper trail and added convenience. Also, the iPad is used for navigation and to monitor air traffic.

Q. How much storage space is required for ForeFlight?

A. When talking in an estimate, Foreflight takes up to 15GB. This is because it includes the documents essential for all kinds of flights.


Recently, pilots have started using iPads for their inflight requirements.

They use it to have a navigation display. Plus, various other applications have been installed that help them track and monitor traffic, altitude, speed, and weather.

These applications offer plans for the remainder of the flight, including weather and news updates.

When not flying, pilots can download various books to read as they progress in their careers. Also, pilots need specific charts and maps downloaded to aid in the flight.

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