An Aviation App Designed for Pilots, by a Pilot
As is the case with most innovations, it was the desire to make life easier that inspired former XOJET captain Joe Dickinson to create one of the most comprehensive aviation iPad/iPhone applications on the market: the Aviation Pilot Duty & Performance Calculator.
Commercial pilots must follow strict guidelines for determining—down to the minute—whether reached the on-duty flight time allowed by FAA regulations.
“We fly a lot and we often have 14-hour work days,” said Dickinson. “It can feel hard to muster the brainpower to do calculations when you’re hungry and tired.”
What makes these calculations so difficult is their exacting nature. Being wrong, even by a few minutes, is in violation of the strict rules outlined in the Part 135 guidelines. So naturally when pilots begin logging the hours they’ve flown and cross-checking them with the hours they’ve rested, even little errors can cause flight delays and FAA violations. In addition, the convoluted wording in the FAA regulations leaves room for errors in interpretation.
“There were a bunch of different apps that would do some calculations, but there wasn’t one that would do them all,” Dickinson said. “I remember thinking that it sure would be nice to have an iPad app that can do all this for me.”
Working with his close friend Dave Baldwin, Dickinson began developing an all-inclusive app to streamline the process and increase accuracy. The resulting product calculates everything from duty times and departure checklists to common conversions, such as feet to meters and Fahrenheit to Celsius.
It also helps pilots compute departure gradients, climb performance, en-route descents, approach planning descent distance and timing, landing performance summaries including wet, dry and DAAP calculations, runway gradients and frequently utilized aviation conversions. Finally, it includes a date calculator that makes it easy to calculate the common minimum equipment list (MEL) due dates and the 30-day VOR check.
But why create an iPad application specifically for these pilot calculations?
Dickinson and all other XOJET pilots use iPads as Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) to replace paper charts, communicate with XOJET’s Sacramento Operations Center, and get important information like current and forecasted weather. So it made perfect sense to create an iPad-based tool for compiling the many calculations pilots are required to do.
The innovative app was released in July 2012, and has since garnered several positive reviews from both XOJET pilots and others in the aviation field.
“It’s great not having to do 10/24 calculations on paper anymore,” said one reviewer. “I find that I use this app quite often.”
Is there more to come? Definitely, says Dickinson.
“Jesse Opsal, a close friend and fellow XOJET pilot, has been busy tweaking the program to expand the rolling 24/7 calculations,” he says. “The new version should be available in the App Store in the not-too-distant future.”
In fact, Jesse has since published his own app, Cloud Topper Pilot Sight Level, but we’ll save that for a future blog post!