Dauntless Aviation has recently released Simplates X Ultra which is advertised as having 70,000+ IFR and VFR plates for the flight simulation enthusiast. The product was released for three different platforms; MS Windows PC, Android phones and tablet devices and iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch devices.
This review is for the version released for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch devices. Here is the link to the developer’s website product page.
Having recently acquired an iPad I was interested to see how I could incorporate this device into my flight simulator activities. This application seemed to be an ideal candidate for that.
The only way to get this version of the program is via the iTunes AppStore and on the developer’s product page they provide the link, (http://www.dauntless-soft.com/PRODUCTS/SimPlates/iPhone/), which takes you directly to it. You will need to input your iTunes account info, locate the application and make the purchase. The app will then be downloaded to your mobile device. That’s all there is to it. There is now an icon on your home screen titled “SimplatesX”.
The first thing you should do after starting the application is to select “Content Update Check” and check for any updates.
There is no documentation only a single help screen. Two important points that you need to keep in mind; you cannot print any of the charts you download and you must be connected to a Wi-Fi network to be able to access any charts that you have not already downloaded onto your device.
There are no configuration options.
Normally I would use my desktop PC, which also happens to be the one I use for FSX, to get any flight related charts. I would do a search on the internet and then upon finding the document(s) download them and more often than not print them. This allows me to have access to them while running FSX. Needless to say I have filled several rather large binders and used up my fair share of ink cartridges building up a collection of these various charts.
Now with this program I have the ability to do a quick search using the application and I have access to all of the information I need. The tablet is totally independent of my FSX PC so I no longer have a need to print them out in order to use them while flying.
The main page is where you’ll make your selection as to what you want to do in the application. Your five choices are; View Plates, Airport Info, NAVIAD Info, Help/About and Content Update Check.
Content Update Check
After installing the program the first thing you will want to do is an update. This will ensure you have the latest and most up to date information.
Now; on to what the program is all about, accessing a vast repository of information. The way you get to all of it is by using the search function which is integral to the usefulness of this application and how you go about searching the sub menus is very simple and quite versatile. Across the top is a text input box and just below it are two buttons; alphabetic and recent. These two buttons determine the order of the countries displayed on the left hand side of the screen. Alphabetic is the default and displays the list of countries in alphabetic order and recent will display countries with those recently accessed at the top of the list.
Depending on how specific your search criterion is will determine how many hits you get. You can search with criteria such as the country name, city name, ICAO code or even use partial names. It is really quite versatile.
Whether a document has been downloaded to the device or you are doing an initial search the process is the same. You are always doing a search, there is no other way.
This was the part of the program I found myself using the most often. When you purchase an airport add-on developers will sometimes provide a set of charts or maybe a link to a website where you can find them but more often than not you are on your own. This is where the Simplates X Ultra application really came in handy and earned its keep. Whether I was trying to find an approach plate, a parking diagram, an aerodrome chart or whatever else I needed for a particular airport they were all available to me by doing a simple search. When you find the airport you have the choice of downloading all of the documents or a specific document.
This option will allow you to look up information pertaining to a particular airport. You will be presented with a page that provides all sorts of information such as location, capabilities, runways, associated navigational aids, etc. The information is not always the same for every airport. In the first screenshot you get an idea of what you get if you select by country. My example shows the country of Haiti. At this point you could simply select the airport you are looking for. Not a big deal with a small country but imagine a large country like Germany, the list might be overwhelming. That is why you might want to make your searches in any category more specific.
They mention on the Help page that not all plates are current. I ran into a situation with the airport diagrams for CYUL. The airport diagram was for Montreal-Dorval Airport yet the Aerodrome charts were for Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. If you run into this and you know there have been significant changes you can always do a search online and find the up to date information.
This screenshot shows the typical information provided for navigational aids worldwide. Some of the information provided is; name, channel, latitude, longitude, etc. Information may vary depending on the station.
Searching is done the same as for the other program options.
The Help screen gives a basic description of what you can expect to get out of the program. A link to their website is also provided. In the top left corner of the screen is a button that allows you to delete all cached plates. Something you may find useful if your device is running low on available memory.
| Publisher: Dauntless Aviation |
Reviewed By: Rick Desjardins
Test System: iPad2 64Gb with IOS 5
Flight Time: 16 hrs
This program, which is independent of the type of simulator you are running, is a very useful resource providing a massive amount of information at your fingertips. The fact that some charts may not be up to date could be an issue but in most instances I believe it is a non-issue. I have now incorporated its use into every one of my flight sim sessions.
What I like
- Quick to install and easy to use.
- No longer a need to search the internet, everything is available from a single source and is easily searchable.
- I found myself using this application on each and every flight.
- Can be used with any flight simulator program.
What I don't like
- If you lose Wi-Fi connectivity you won’t have access to the online database of documents, only to those that were previously downloaded to your device.
- No way to print charts.
- Every time I want to see a chart I must do a search as there is no way to directly access downloaded charts.
- You can only view one chart at a time.