For some, the ADS-B buying decision rides on the system being compatible with a favorite tablet app. While shops we’ve spoken with report that Garmin’s GDL84 and GDL88 transceivers have been dominant sellers, some buyers are reluctant to make the investment because the system was only compatible with Garmin’s Pilot app, and not the popular ForeFlight Mobile program for iPad. Not any more.
ForeFlight recently announced two-way compatibility with Garmin panel avionics, including the ability to interface Garmin’s GDL-series ADS-B transceiver on its Mobile iPad app. But there has been some misinformation and confusion about what this interface will and will not do. Here’s a clarification.
Flight stream wireless
The backbone of the Foreflight/Garmin interface is Garmin’s Bluetooth Flight Stream 110 ($549) and 210 ($999) gateways. These are remote wireless transceivers for transferring data between the tablet/smartphone and Garmin panel avionics.
ForeFlight isn’t new to this kind of wireless cockpit interface. Recall that its Mobile app was the only one compatible with Aspen’s Connected Panel cockpit Wi-Fi interface released several years ago. This minimal interface can send flight plans from ForeFlight into Aspen’s Evolution MFD and ultimately load the data into Garmin’s GNS navigators. But it’s more than flight plan automation.
By connecting to the Flight Stream model 210 via the ForeFlight Connect wireless interface, the app receives GPS and AHARS data for driving the app’s synthetic vision function (the Flight Stream 110 won’t work—it doesn’t have AHARS).
It’s worth mentioning that ForeFlight’s synthetic vision doesn’t require an attitude source, but when the data is received from a Flight Stream or a Stratus 2 receiver, it enables the synthetic vision to display dynamic pitch and bank functions.
As it does with Garmin’s Pilot app, the Flight Stream gateway sends ADS-B traffic and weather data received by Garmin’s GDL84 and GDL88 to ForeFlight, eliminating the need for a dedicated panel display. The interface also includes transfer of pressure altitude data, ADS-B messaging and status information, when available. You’ll need ForeFlight version 7.2 for this ADS-B compatibility, in addition to the Flight Stream unit and a $3994 GDL88 or GDL84, which is $3995 and won’t work on a panel display.
ForeFlight version 7.3 adds the ability to send and receive flight plan data to and from Garmin’s GTN and GNS WAAS panel navigators, in addition to the G3X Touch experimental suite. This data includes routing and waypoints, arrival, departure and approaches. Expect to see the entire approach procedure and step-down’s overlaid on ForeFlight’s map view and the “plates on map” function, not just initial approach fixes.
There are things the wireless interface will not do. For instance, ADS-B weather and traffic received from a Stratus-series portable receiver can’t be streamed onto a Garmin panel display. If you have a Garmin GDL69 SiriusXM satellite weather system, it’s not compatible with ForeFlight. Version 7.2 and 7.3 are free updates to an existing ForeFlight subscription (which start at $74.99) updated from Apple’s App Store.