First of all I'm all for using an iPad or Tablet with ForeFlight, WingX or any other flight planning software. It provides weather and flight planning capabilities, helps navigate and all around reduces work load. However (and you knew that was coming) I have had some new problems show up on check rides. Applicants are overly relying on them to the point where everything else is being neglected. For example a recent instrument applicant departed JVL without setting up any navigation equipment. ATC gave a heading to intercept V177. The applicant flew threw the airway and ATC gave a new heading to intercept. The applicant intercepted and flew the airway using the iPad only. None of the airplane's radios or CDIs where set up. A couple of days later another instrument applicant flew the VOR-A at Beloit perfectly! Unfortunately he had the VOR incorrectly set to 113.4 (not 114.3). The CDI was centered but with an off flag. How did he fly that approach? He followed the GPS driven airplane on the ForeFlight approach plate.
Both applicant put up a fight on the issuance of a pink slip. Both argued that they where navigating on course and didn't bust any part of the PTS. Well, lets look at the PTS. In several places is says "Selects, tunes, identifies and confirms operational status of Nav aids. The PTS says we have to maintain less then 3/4 deflection of CDI (how did they do that, how did they know?). But the PTS does say "Uses MFD and other graphical navigation displays, if installed, to monitor position, track wind drift, and other parameters to intercept and maintain the desired flightpath." The key to this PTS statement is "if installed". That means legally installed in the aircraft as part of the aircraft's equipment. Examples of this would be Garmin's G1000 display or the Avidyne's 540 display.
Believe it or not, the ForeFlight, Garmin, Jeppessen and all other Apps are NOT approved for primary navigation! All 135, 121, 125 and 91 subpart S operations are prohibited from using "Ownship" Position on the iPad. (Ownship is the GPS driven airplane on the app)
Another problem arises on the Private and Commercial check rides. The PTS requires that each applicant must demonstrate Pilotage and dead reckoning skills. How can this be evaluated during the check ride if the "ownship" GPS position is displaying? It can't. I did have a private pilot applicant's iPad fail on a cross country last spring. The battery died. We where 7 miles from the applicants home airport and we got lost. I'm talking 15 minutes in to the check ride and we where lost. We had a paper Chicago Sectional and working VOR on board and we still couldn't find our way. Oh boy.
So here's the part where I'm going to ruffle a few feathers. From this point forward, the "Ownship" position will need to be turn off for the flight portion of the check ride. I may allow it to be turned back on later in the flight but to start out with it will have to be off. You can turn off "Ownship" in the "Settings" menu on the ForeFlight app by selecting "Ownship" and "Never". I think you can do it the same way in the others as well.
From an instructional point of view, I want my students to develop a mental situational awareness picture using the installed aircraft equipment. Until they remove CDIs, RMI's and HSI's we need to know how to properly use this equipment and keep the "big picture" moving in our heads. That's good Airmanship! Back in the old days, new copilots where not allowed to use the autopilot until they could smoothly and consistently fly the airplane to ATP standard (if not to perfection). Then, at some point, someone said we should be using the autopilot more and just monitoring the aircraft. We've now gone full swing in the other direction and now the FAA and NTSB are telling us that our stick skills have diminished. Some where in there is a happy medium; good stick skills with good use of automation. Same applies to the iPad and the various Apps. We need to develop good skills to help manage the additional resources. That my thought.
So, No "Ownship" on check rides. If you want to call or email to tell me I'm full of BS, feel free to do so.