Embracing the Future: Tech's Impact on GA Flying

John Franklin • 30 May 2023
in community General Aviation

Hey there, fellow aviators! Buckle up because we're about to dive into the exciting world of technology and its role in general aviation. Whether you're a seasoned pilot or just starting out, it's impossible to ignore how advancements in technology have transformed the way we fly. So, let's review some examples of what’s out there that helps when we go flying.

There will be some videos added over the coming days with some of the people we met at AERO 2023 in Friedrischafen who had some exciting tech on show. These are just examples and there are lots of other ones available - if you have anything you would like to tell us about, drop us an email to safetypromotion@easa.europa.eu.

Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs)/ Navigation and Flight planning Apps:

In the modern world, the days of lugging around heavy flight bags filled with paper charts and manuals are long gone. Navigation Apps and Electronic Fightbags have revolutionised the way we fly and have, have become essential to us pilots. And they are just becoming better and better with each update. With just a few taps and swipes, you can access a wealth of information, including real-time weather updates, charts, airport directories, and even electronic flight planning tools. These Apps not only reduce cockpit clutter but also provide a more efficient and organized way to plan and navigate the skies.

While we certainly need to embrace the possibilities this will bring to us, we need to always be aware of some potential drawbacks as we become more dependent on these tools. Our trusty devices can fail and shut down, batteries turning hot and GPS signals may be lost or spoofed and might have built-in technological limitations. One day we may experience interruptions in accessing critical flight information at the moment we least expected it. It is therefore crucial to always have a backup plan ready.  

As we should be embracing all the ease and efficiency these tools bring us, let’s not totally forget the art of pilotage (navigation by reference to landmarks or checkpoints) and dead reckoning (navigation by using your heading/direction, time and ground speed) and challenge ourselves on purpose by maintaining proficiency in these traditional navigation methods. 

Traffic Awareness

Traffic collision avoidance has reached new heights with all sorts of different technologies such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology, FLARM and even specific Apps that use mobile phone signal data. Aircraft equipped with ADS-B transceivers can receive and transmit real-time data, allowing you to see nearby aircraft on your cockpit display. Together with the right visual scanning techniques that we still need to actively practice and the traffic information received from Flight Information Services or ATC these tools provide additional situational awareness that enhances overall flight safety, particularly in busy airspace. With a quick glance, you'll know if another aircraft is approaching, giving you the ability to make timely adjustments to avoid potential conflicts.

Weather Information

Staying informed about weather conditions is crucial for every pilot. Thanks to technological advancements, we now have access to comprehensive weather data, including radar imagery, satellite views, and forecasts, right in the cockpit. Dedicated weather apps and subscription-based services provide pilots with up-to-date information on thunderstorms, turbulence, icing, and other weather phenomena. Armed with this knowledge, you can plan your flights more intelligently, avoiding potentially hazardous conditions.

Avionics and Flight Performance Monitoring Systems

Monitoring your aircraft's engine performance is vital for safety and maintenance. Engine monitoring systems, also known as digital engine gauges, provide real-time data on critical engine parameters such as oil pressure, temperature, and RPM. These systems help detect anomalies or deviations, enabling pilots to identify and address potential issues before they become major problems. With accurate engine data at your disposal, you can optimize fuel consumption, maximize engine life, and enhance overall aircraft performance.

Debriefing Tools

Every flight is a learning experience. Debriefing is therefore a powerful exercise for pilots of all levels of experience to keep learning and improving his or her skills.   By reflecting on your successes and mistakes, you gain valuable lessons and insights that will contribute to your ongoing development as a pilot. There are now many modern aircraft and aviation applications capable of recording and analysing data, like GPS tracks, altitude, airspeed, and so much more. Your personal In-flight videos and cockpit voice recordings can add another level to your debriefing and provide you with a direct and objective feedback on your communication skills, crew coordination and actions.

It might be confrontational, but it’s not mistakes we make that define us…it’s how we deal with them.

Embrace technology and use it to help you

As private pilots, embracing technology can significantly enhance our flying experiences. It simplifies tasks, enhances safety, and offers valuable resources to make informed decisions. However, it's essential to remember that technology is a tool, not a substitute for pilot skills and judgment. Always maintain proficiency in traditional navigation techniques and stay vigilant in the cockpit.

Let's take advantage of the incredible technological advancements that are shaping the future of private flying. Embrace the gadgets, explore the apps, and fly with confidence knowing that technology has our backs. The skies have never been more exciting!

Fly your best and remember to always be ready to come back and #flyanotherday.

Happy adventures!


Comments (4)

Andreas Schlager

Dear John,
EASA should rollout ADS-B and UAT as soon as possible and europe-wide to get the full benefit of inflight traffic- and weather information! This is a real game-changer and live saver!!

Keith Vinning

Hi John
Other technologies such as PilotAware already do this on the 800Band. UAT is not available in Europe or the UK as the 978MHz band is not available and the ground stations would be very expensive for the state to implement.

Andreas Schlager

Hi Keith,
978 is available - the Netherlands had requested this band and got it.
Groundstations are not that expensive - UK and Finland had driven a pilot project and states the costs for a groundstation between EUR 3.000 and 10.000 - with a radius of about 75NM. So this pricetag is not that high for the safety benefit it brings...

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