Monday, 28 September 2009

Electronic plates

I've done a little flying with the SolidFX Plate reader recently. It's based on an Irex ebook and comes loaded with software that's the fruit of a partnership between Jeppesen and SolidFX.

Initially it failed at the first hurdle, i.e. I had to have a quick look at the manual to get it to work. I didn't have any trouble displaying the plates, but rather the super-sensitive external controls kept scrolling and switching and doing all sorts of stuff that I didn't want. A quick read explained how to disable them.

Once I'd got to grips with the basics the unit worked well - the display size is slightly too small for my 47-year-old eyes to read easily, but a stylus enlarges and scrolls with ease.

There are price deals for the Jepp data if you already have a JeppView subscription and the unit itself sells for $1600 - not cheap. If you do a fair amount of IFR touring, the the ability to access plates in the air without having to carry bags full of laboriously updated books is worthwhile - I would still take printed copies of my departure, destination and alternate airports, but having anywhere else at hand in a small, lightweight package is a win, at least if it fits in with your kind of flying, and of course your kind of flying budget.

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