Latest Software Release and Introducing PilotAware iGRID 

The Short Version. For those that don’t like to read instructions and don’t need to. TLDR (To Long Didn’t Read)  

  1. Download the Latest Software 
  2. Insert a  correct type (Ralink RT5370) WiFi module into a spare USB slot configured for AUTO 
  3. Enable your phone for mobile data and WiFi hotspot. 
  4. Pair your mobile phone via the PilotAware Network Page. Hotspot WiFi required. 
  5. Ensure your phone is not set to time out 
  6. Check for 4 greens on the RADAR page. GPS, TXP, PAW, GSM 
  7. GPS  
  8. TXP 
  9. PAW 
  10. GSM 
  • No tab = No WiFi module fitted i.e. iGRID disabled 
  • Green OK 
  • Orange No network Connected 
  • Red No Hotspot connection. 

The Complete Version

Introduction;

The latest PilotAware Software release is now available. As well as the usual bug fixes and improvements, the latest software contains a new, improved virtual RADAR screen and the introduction of iGRID, the latest significant innovation from PilotAware Ltd.  

iGRID is initially available as a complementary Beta release that links your PilotAware unit to your mobile phone’s cellular data service, to increase the number of aircraft detected and displayed on your PilotAware virtual RADAR screen, glass cockpits and Electronic Flight Bags. iGRID also provides selectable weather information RADAR. iGRID can be enabled by technically confident users of PilotAware and mobile technology. The latest release will also work without iGRID enabled, continuing to provide some of the new RADAR screen and SkyGRID™ functionality. When using iGRID it is recommended that you use the latest software release as this will provide the latest promoted Beta release software for the best results.

This article describes how to download and install the latest software, install the necessary additional WiFi module and the operating instructions to get the most out of the complete PilotAware infrastructure. 

Please read these instructions carefully and ensure that you fully understand the limitations of its use. DO NOT use this new software in the air before you have fully absorbed and understood the instructions and the use of the software. The in-flight cockpit is not the place to learn about or reconfigure aviation devices such as PilotAware. You are the Pilot in Command with the responsibility for the fidelity and correct installation and use of all equipment. If in doubt, switch it off. 

How iGRID works;

The new PilotAware software uses an additional WiFi module to provide a data link between your Rosetta or Classic device and your mobile phone hotspot. Other cellular hotspots can be used. This extra link then provides additional information, on aircraft locations and flight information services, to those already detected directly, relayed or rebroadcast via the ATOM GRID network. This also introduces additional redundancy into the information paths used by the PilotAware infrastructure, making it more robust and feature-rich than ever. 

This new link between your PilotAware unit and the mobile network uses the mobile data function of your smartphone. It requires that you subscribe to a mobile data service on your phone and that the personal hotspot is enabled and accessible to PilotAware to gain access to the internet. The amount of data consumed per hour depends on how much traffic and FIS data are exchanged. Therefore, ensure that your mobile data package is sufficient for this and your other apps, which will continue to refresh as usual when you are in the air.  When using it away from your home country it is worth considering data roaming costs

For whom is the PilotAware Beta Release of iGRID suitable?;  

responsibility

The software will initially be offered as a complimentary open Beta Release, for use by competent users. The initial release is supported for use using Apple (iOS) hardware. Capable users of Android technology are invited to use iGRID software, but due to the significant variance between hardware and firmware on these devices, we cannot provide telephone support for individual devices or personal support. We invite competent users of Android-based mobile devices to share their experiences and successes to help others with similar systems via the forum http://forum.pilotaware.com. As with previous software releases, this will allow us to provide better future support for Android devices. 

How to set up and connect to PilotAware iGRID; 

The following diagram shows how the connection to the servers is achieved.  

 

1. Download the Software  

Firstly, the new software will need to be uploaded. This is simply done using the PilotAware Firmware updater using IOS or Android devices.  

https://www.pilotaware.com/knowledgebase/ios-software-update 

https://www.pilotaware.com/knowledgebase/android-software-update 

2. Insert a WiFi Module

Secondly, an inexpensive WiFi module must be inserted into a spare USB slot on the Rosetta to provide the WiFi link to your mobile phone hotspot. The WiFi module must contain a RALINK 5370 Chip and can be purchased from the PilotAware Website with installation instructions. Please do not attempt to source these devices yourself unless you are confident that you have the right chip inside; there are many clones and incorrectly specified devices on the market. Caveat emptor! 

 

The WIFI module is inserted into any unused USB slot on the Rosetta or Classic units which should be configured to the default AUTO selection on the configuration page. The existing WiFi on the PilotAware device continues to connect to your smart tablet as normal, allowing the data collected to be used by Easy VFR, Sky Demon etc.  

The following diagram shows the WiFi module inserted in the bottom left-hand USB slot of a Rosetta device. The GPS has been removed for clarity and should be returned to the upper left-hand slot for normal operation. This installation should be done with the power turned off. If you have a Classic unit, you will then have two WiFi modules installed. On a Rosetta, the first WiFi is built into the Raspberry Pi 3B single-board computer. Therefore, if you are using a classic connected to a Mode-S transponder, glass cockpit, Aircrew Screen or Flarm device, you will have to upgrade to a new discounted Rosetta. Sorry, there is a limit to how flexible we can be with backwards compatibility. 

 

3. Configure your Mobile Phone 

Enable the Mobile Data and Personal Hotspot options and disable Airplane Mode.  

After confirming your personal mobile phone hotspot password, the Rosetta can then be paired to the mobile phone to get internet access. How to do this will vary on the type of mobile phone you use. Please choose a simple password, preferably with no special characters. Subsequent pairings should be automatic. This is how the configuration appears on an iPhone 7 settings page. Slide the tab to enable the hotspot and provide a password. This screen will differ between devices. iOS android etc.  

 

4. Pseudo

Next, on your smart tablet, navigate your way to the Network Page by selecting this from the dropdown tab on each page of your PilotAware device after logging on through 192.168.1.1 or paw.local as usual. 

 

The top half of the Network page relates to the existing WiFi link that links Rosetta to your smart device, iPad etc and is not used here. 

 

The lower section of the Network page (identified in the red hatched block) contains the configuration required to link PilotAware to your mobile device. 

Using the dropdown box select the SSID of the mobile hotspot you have enabled on your mobile phone. In this example, it is called 'Rosetta iphone’. Yours will be different. Insert the password you have chosen and PRESS SAVE. Pressing save allocates and remembers the password for the iPhone hotspot so it will automatically connect to it next time it is available. When paired, an encrypted connection is made between the Rosetta or Classic device and the PilotAware servers. The connection is complete when the chosen SSID is highlighted in green as shown above for Rosetta iPhone. (Or your chosen phone ID) 

 

The refresh button updates the choice of available mobile devices. Please note if a previously used network and its associated password are available, it will connect to this automatically. 

 

As shown below, the home page will also highlight in green that the PilotAware unit is connected to the mobile hotspot. 

Confirmation that all is working well will be seen via 4 greens on the top left of the latest PilotAware virtual RADAR screen as shown below. If there is no GSM TAB then the 2nd WiFi module is not inserted or is not detected (faulty). If the GSM tab is red then a WiFi module has been detected but the PilotAware device is not yet connected to the mobile hotspot. Go to the Network page and make the connection. If the GSM tab is orange, this shows that there is a connection to the WiFi hotspot but no local mobile signal. Hence there is no connection to the internet and no data from the PilotAware servers. When all is connected (4 greens), the PilotAware virtual RADAR screen will blossom with a considerable amount of traffic, precipitation, points of interest and local airfields as configured on the RADAR screen as selected. 

 

Pseudo weather map;

  1. The following screenshot shows the New RADAR screen with the rain map, traffic and points of interest enabled. The configuration buttons can be set to be hidden for normal operation. Please note that PilotAware software is provided for use in VMC using VFR. Consequently, the rain and precipitation data is provided for situational awareness only. Not approved to be used in IMC.

 

The following screenshot shows an iPad in split-screen mode showing SkyDemon and the virtual RADAR Screen at the same time. This shows the incredible amount of traffic that is detected when using ATOM GRID, SkyGRID™ and iGRID simultaneously. This will now be the norm for PilotAware users running the latest software and connecting to mobile phones. Note, in normal operation, each screen should be manually optimised to make the screen less busy as preferred by the user.

 

Operating Features; 

  • The new software can be used without a mobile phone connection but you will not get the enhanced iGRID features. 
  • If a mobile connection is lost then the software will only consider direct transmission and the ATOM GRID functionality provided as usual. 
  • If an ATOM station is not in range the mobile link will still work providing a mobile network connection is maintained. 
  • Your flight is recorded through both the ATOM GRID and the Mobile network and can be viewed on the Aircrew App. 
  • If your EFB  is providing too much information use the filters on PilotAware and or the EFB to reduce the amount shown.  
  • As more aircraft are detected the vertical and horizontal distance of the first voice alert may need to be reduced to suit. 
  • It is useful to understand the difference between strategic and tactical situational awareness and how they can both be an aid to flight safety. https://www.pilotaware.com/post/strategic-vs-tactical-awareness 

  

Gotchas;

  • Make sure you are using the correct power supply and cable. 
  • Make sure your PilotAware unit is working correctly with the new software and is licensed before connecting to the hotspot 
  • Make sure that your mobile phone doesn’t connect to other hotspots when on the ground as you will lose connectivity when you take off. Remember some phones will search for the best route to the internet. 
  • Don’t choose a complicated hotspot password but one that is also easily remembered. 
  • Make sure your iPhone and smart device is well charged. You will be lost without the iGRID one you have used it.  
  • You may get excessive voice alerts. If so turn down the vertical and horizontal ranges to suit. 
  • Make sure your PilotAware RADAR screen is configured correctly and not too cluttered. 
  • Make sure that your mobile data contract is sufficient so you do not incur an unexpected charge especially when data roaming in Europe.  
  • Check that your phone does not time out, as configured in your preferences. 
  • If you don’t have a GPS lock and a current license then the  PilotAware unit will not work. 

Finally, don’t be intimidated. The fantastic advances in situational awareness provided by the PilotAware infrastructure ATOM GRID, SkyGRID™ and iGRID will show you a huge amount of traffic that could at first be overwhelming.  

However, this traffic has always been there it’s just that you have never been aware of it. Remember you cannot visually see traffic at a similar height until it comes closer than 3Kms and you know where to look. 

With SkyGRID™ and iGRID enabled, your aircraft will become a ground station in the sky providing and benefiting from multiple data paths to detect as many aircraft as possible in the UK and Europe.  

Finally, there is still a lot of aircraft flying with poorly installed or no electronic conspicuity. Therefore, maintain your visual scan as this will be what is required to keep you safe at all times.   

Then there are drones, but we are working on them as well to keep you safe. 

Limitations of PilotAware iGRID; 

The draft EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) strategy for Electronic conspicuity in U-space, includes ADSB (DF17 not CAP1391), the 860 Radio Band (including Flarm and PilotAware) and mobile devices. Within this strategy, there is a recognition that there is work to be done to confirm the accuracy, latency and availability of the pan-European mobile network. Whilst this work is being undertaken EASA is encouraging, the use of low data rate mobile transmissions to determine the art of the possible. PilotAware iGRID operates in this genre and will be bound by and will comply with future rulings on availability and usage.   

 

iGRID has been extensively tested for the past 9 months with the following results;  

Availability;


The pan-European availability of terrestrial mobile networks has been shown to have good coverage at heights from ground level to 4000 feet. Practical studies that we have done show that the sole usage of mobile networks is not reliable enough to be used for tactical situational awareness. Therefore, we do not condone the use of mobile-only EC solutions. However, mobile solutions are eminently suited as a redundant channel for the transmission of low volume, non-mission or time-critical data transmissions for aircraft locations and Flight Information Services.  

 

By collecting significant data, it has been recorded that in areas where the mobile network was available, 94% of the data packets received had a latency of less than 1 second. Using this additional mobile link, data from the PilotAware servers will augment the information that is collected directly from your aircraft and from the ATOM ground network, to show the location of all traffic within a predetermined radius of your aircraft. Local traffic will continue to be detected directly from the onboard PilotAware device and the ATOM grid with low latency.  

 

All data from all sources is accurately time-stamped. This ensures that only the latest data is used for the greatest accuracy of nearby targets for tactical ‘see and avoid’ use. Targets further away are less time-critical, and therefore their position ,provided by iGRID, is eminently suited for strategic airspace situational awareness.  

 

In addition, when connected to the Mobile network, all traffic detected by PilotAware from any source is passed to the PilotAware servers contributing to the best ground base situational awareness picture available. The use of which is as defined in the CAA publication CAP670. 

 

Latency;  

When using directly detected or ATOM GRID data for electronic conspicuity, the latency is negligible as the transmission is at the speed of light with very little processing overhead. When using the mobile network, the latency is still low (voice is real-time after all), but latency will still be introduced through the network. Using the mobile network, in conjunction with the direct transmissions of the PilotAware infrastructure, gives the advantage of using the low latency local transmissions and the higher volumes and greater distances of traffic reported over the mobile network. Combining the two further removes airframe obscuration (by detecting aircraft from multiple receivers) and also provides greater overall data redundancy and availability. All traffic data is time-stamped with only the latest information used for displaying aircraft. 

 

The result of using iGRID is that there is a significant increase in the amount of traffic detected and available for presentation on your flight bag, Virtual RADAR screen or glass cockpit. The amount of traffic displayed can be adjusted to suit by using filters on the Rosetta, Glass cockpit or Electronic Flight Bag.   

The PilotAware Team 

June 2022