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Flight Assistant Academy #1: The Basics

18/09/2016

Welcome to the first training session of the Flight Assistant Academy!

Through this session, you will learn the basic usage of the Flight Assistant mobile application and the web flight preparation application.

 

A comprehensive service

Flight Assistant is a service made of two components:
– the mobile application (please make sure  you have installed Flight Assistant version 2 on your device)
– the flight preparation web application.

You do not have to use both and the mobile application can be used on its own, but they nonetheless share data and you will be able to edit and manage your planes and navigations on the web and then “use” them on your mobile device (and vice versa).

NB: data synchronisation requires a Basic subscription plan or above.

 

The mobile application

It is to note that the user interface of the mobile application can be different on tablets and phones (and even different on 7′ and 10′ tablets).
When those differences are significant, it will be highlighted.

The home page

The home page of the mobile application gives you access to all the top features in the application.
What is important as well is that it gives you an overview of the status of the data in your application.

home-tablet-explained

In zone A, you will find everything related to flight control:
1 – select the plane you want to fly with
2 – go back to the cockpit views
3 – select the flight plan that you want to fly
4 – actually start the flight (in order to save power and battery time, the GPS signal and navigation calculation is only activated when you start the flight)
5 – stop the flight. This will stop all navigation calculation and will as well save your track to a GPX file if this is an option that you have activated.

In zone B, you can assess the status of your application data at a glance:
6 – current AIRAC cycle
– AIRAC cycle of your aeronautical data and you airport documents. If they are outdated or need refresh, the cycle will show in red or orange
8 – these tell you how long ago you downloaded your NOTAMs and weather information. Here as well, if the information is considered outdated, it will show in orange or red
9 – using these buttons you can trigger another download.

Zone C is dedicated to flight preparation:
10 – this is your document binder. You can browse all application documents here
11 – manage your planes here (to do accurate flight planning the application needs to know your plane performances
12 – create and manage your flight plans
13 – perform fuel planning and weight & balance calculation.

On the phone, the functions for zone B and C are available on a different page that you access from the home page.

home-phone-explained

 

The “MY ACCOUNT” menu gives you access to your maps and data subscriptions.

This is basically where you can download the Flight Assistant maps.

For now we will assume you are not using the “advanced mode” when managing your data.
Therefore, when you select a map (a country) for download, it pulls the aeronautical data and the subscription to NOTAMs for this country as well.

Finally, the “cog wheel” gives you access to the general setting of the application as well as the management of user waypoints.

If you had downloaded a Flight Assistant map when installing the application for the first time, you are ready for your first flight… Well at least we are ready to have a look at the moving map page.

 

The moving map page

Lets assume that you are in your cockpit ready to take off…

Tap the “START FLIGHT” button.

You will land on the moving map page that looks like this.

phone-no-fix-framed

In this situation, the most important piece of information is in the top right corner: “NO FIX”.

On all the cockpit pages (pages you will use in flight) there will be that same indicator (or not).

It can have 3 states:
– showing “OFF” on a red background: this means that your are in a cockpit page but you have not started a flight yet. This is OK. But if you intend to fly, not much will happen ;).
– showing “NO FIX” (like above): this means that you have started a flight but there is currently to GPS position (either not yet, or no more). Hopefully it will be back soon.
not showing: (yes, this as well is a state of this flag) in this case, all is fine. You have started a flight and the GPS has a valid position, Flight Assistant can tell you where you are and where you should go.

Now lets have a better look at the map in flight.

moving-map-basics

Let’s ignore zone A for now, it will only be used when flying with a flight plan (that will be for a next session).

As you have guessed, zone B is the moving map itself.
We have used the usual T shape arrangement for the “instrument” with the speed on the left, ground track in the middle and altitude on the left, with the digital gauge and the “altitude strip” (more on this on a later session).

Quite obviously the plane (1) is at your location and the “speed vector” shows 5 bullets that are your location at the next 5 minutes (assuming you fly a straight line).
We are in a “track up” mode. The plane is below the center of the map (1/3 – 2/3) and we have an arc (2) rather than a rose.

NB: all colors and size can be changed in the moving map preferences.

Zone C is the flight profile.
It can be closed and opened using the handle (3).
It shows the terrain, the zones you will cross and highlights the terrain based on your current altitude.

The “cone” on the profile (4) is actually derived from the performances you have defined for your plane.

The vertical handle (5) opens the action drawer that contains the actions you can perform on the moving map.

moving-map-actions

From the top:
Home: go to the home page
Settings: access map setting (color sizes, etc.)
Docs: browse your document binder
HSI: go to the HSI (horizontal situation indicator page)
Nav Log.: go to the electronic navigation log (when a flight plan is loaded only)
GOTO: yep, you guessed right
Overlays: manage what the map will display
North up / Track up: switch North up mode to track up mode and vice versa
Zoom in and zoom out. I assume there is no need to explain those.

What is worth saying though is that you can zoom in and zoom out directly on the map without opening the action drawer:
– use double tap to zoom in
– tap with two fingers to zoom out.

 

The flight preparation web application

The flight preparation web application is a bit more than flight preparation. This is the place where you will manage your account and subscriptions as well.

In the first session, we are just going to go over the basic controls.

The map

web-app-basics

Zone A is obviously the map.

The controls around B let you display TAFs, METARs and NOTAMs for the top one or map layers (objects) for the bottom one.

Next to C you can zoom in, zoom out (though your mouse wheel or trackpad will do it as well) and a button to bring you back to you “base” (the base can be set in your profile).
Most importantly this is where you can select your map background as well (your plan and addons allowing).

Zone D holds the currently loaded navigation (we will come to creating navigations in a next session).

Zone E is your main menu:
1 – access to your profile, manage your account, subscriptions, etc.
2 –  manage your planes (this is where you will define performances & weight & balance characteristics)
3 – manage your navigations
4 – shows the currently active plane ands allows you to select another one
5 – contextual menu for the current navigation.

 

When clicking anywhere on the map, a pop up will propose additional information that can vary based on what you clicked.

point-pop-up

1 – if there is one or more airports where you clicked, you have a link to go to the arrival briefing of the airport.
2 – other aeronautical points and the point with the exact coordinates where you clicked
3 – airspaces
4 – add points to your current navigation (if the point is already in your navigation, you will be able to remove it).

The airport briefing panel

When clicking on an airport (on the map, in the information pop up or in the navigation), you will access the “briefing panel” for this airport.

The panel presents all the information we have for the airport.

airport-pop-up

1 – The airport you are reviewing
2 – The information are grouped in tabs. Not all tabs (or more tabs) can be present depending on the information we have for the airport
3 – The runway information for this airport (if we have them)
4 – The frequencies for this airport (if we have them)
5 – Close the briefing

 

Ok, you have completed your first Flight Assistant training session and you are now able to go for a simple flight.

In the next session, we will learn how to create a flight plan and prepare a flight.