Panasonic FZ-G1 Toughpad, priced at £1,650 upward, depending on specification
A professional grade ‘electronic flight bag’
In the commercial flying world, the airlines have been using consumer tablets as ‘electronic flight bags’ combining all the usual aviation data, navigation charts and manuals with the ability to perform complex calculations for takeoff, landing and fuel reckoning. However one thing that has become an issue is the failure rate — up to five times higher than using specialist rugged tablets, claims manufacturer Panasonic. According to research into the reliability of mobile devices by the analyst group VDC, 18% of non-rugged devices need replacing in year one, the total rises to 39% by year two and 83% of devices will have been replaced by year three. Compare that to rugged devices with a 3% replacement rate in year one, 8% in year two and just 18% by year three.
In the air, ipads and the like can be difficult for pilots to read in both bright sunlight and at night. Consumer tablets come with narrow adjustable brightness ranges of 50cd/sq m (candelas per square metre) to 410cd/sq m, when 0.5 to 800cd/sq m is required, according to Panasonic. Consumer tablets also lack dedicated buttons for the essential controls, making them slower to operate than is ideal.
The FZ-G1 Toughpad is designed to avoid these problems. It is certainly very substantial and we plan to test it in the cockpit environment — although it is rather to bulky and heavy (just over two kilograms) to be used readily in the editorial Cub! (Mini ipads and smaller Panasonic units are a better choice when space — or lack of it - is the prime issue.)
For illustration only we have shown the Skydemon navigation page, but beware that this software is primarily intended for Apple and Android systems and offers limited functionality with Windows Pro, which is what the FZ-G1 runs on (and is the airlines’ preferred operating system). You can certainly plan flights on the Panasonic, but you may need to connect it to a remote GPS to use it for navigation. PW
A potted history