Pilot Pro claims to be “the ultimate pilot logbook” for iPhones and iPads. It’s a newcomer to the electronic logbook field with a fresh “outside the box” approach. Even better, it boasts that oh-so-buzzworthy cloud syncing feature — for free. That’s sure to make a few waves in the aviation app pool.
I was provided with a copy of the app, and since last August, I’ve been flying with Pilot Pro searching for the pros and cons of this pilot logbook solution. Is it a buy? Here’s what I found.
Pilot Pro’s interface looks amazing. They merged the classic appeal of the old pen & ink logbook with Apple influenced design. The result is a visually stunning user interface. It’s remarkably intuitive too.
But I prefer function over form, and Pilot Pro delivered a few features I really liked. Currency is addressed with a dummy-proof screen with green check-marks that show you’re good to go! It also has a nifty progress bar for total currency.
Perhaps the coolest feature of Pilot Pro is that it offers cloud syncing at no extra cost. The app integrates with Dropbox (you do need to sign up for a Dropbox account – it’s free) to sync logbook entries to your account at PilotPro.com. This enables an instant backup of your logbook at the touch of a button, before you even step out of the airplane.
I am impressed with Pilot Pro’s online logbook feature. They’ve taken the companion desktop application out of the picture and replaced it with a very capable web-based logbook. The site syncs with the mobile app through Dropbox and allows device-free access to your logbook. That’s pretty convenient. What’s more impressive is that they’ve opted to make the site free of charge.
For those coming from other electronic logbooks, PilotPro.com includes a logbook importer that works with most major companies. And they don’t pigeonhole you into their system: you can export your Pilot Pro logbook as a text file that is readable by competing products.
This app works really well for regular flying, but when I dragged it through the dirt of regional airline life it fell short in a few places. At present, Pilot Pro doesn’t track duty times, crew rest or other pro-pilot rules like 30-in-7 — features that I’ve come to rely on in the field.
As cool as the online logbook is, it is no substitute for a solid desktop application. It’s got everything I want except the ability to quickly change chunks of data. Sure, you can change your logbook entries with Pilot Pro, but you’ll have to do it one entry at a time. That’s fine for a private pilot flying 50 hours a year, but doesn’t quite work for those of us doing 70+ per month.
Another think I might point out is that Pilot Pro isn’t streamlined for rapid data entry. It all has to do with the multiple-page interface for each logbook entry. Again, it’s fine for a few entries, but it’s probably not the best choice to transfer 1,000+ hours from paper to digital.
Pilot Pro offers a lot for a low price. It’s a very capable digital logbook system that runs across multiple platforms at a single low price. It’s missing some of the bells and whistles of the big-name logbook brands, but the average private pilot will never need to track their duty day or worry about rest rules. For the private pilot looking for a simple way to log time digitally, Pilot Pro is a good choice. Professional pilots and career minded students might want to look elsewhere.
The verdict? We give it a 4 out of 5.
Pilot Pro retails in Apple’s App Store for $39.99 which includes all iPhone, iPad and online logbook features.
Have you used Pilot Pro? Please leave a comment below.