July 22, 2014 - Garmin introduced on Tuesday Flight Stream, a new Bluetooth system that wirelessly connects the Garmin Pilot app on mobile devices to Garmin panel-mounted avionics.
The basic Flight Stream 110 links the Pilot app to the GDL 88 and GDL 69 receivers to display weather, traffic, SiriusXM audio, and other information. The Flight Stream 210 allows you to use the Pilot app to link to the GTN line of touch screen navigators, and the GNS 430/530WAAS series of navigators, as well as the satellite receiver and ADS-B “in” data.
The Garmin G3X Touch system designed for experimental aircraft already has the Bluetooth wireless gateway built in so it can now link directly to Apple and Android devices running the Pilot app.
The actual Flight Stream box is a little smaller than a smartphone and can be installed just about anywhere behind the panel. A few wires are required to connect the Flight Stream box to the other installed equipment. Flight Stream is covered by the same STC that is used to install the Garmin equipment it connects to. Flight Stream 210 includes an AHRS that can show attitude, heading, and so on with decent precision on your mobile device.
The two most useful capabilities of the Flight Stream 210 is being able to load flight plans directly from the Pilot app into the navigators, and the ability to display all manner of incoming information on an iPad or other mobile device, which is typically a better and larger display than most panel-mounted MFDs. Using the Pilot app to load and change the flight plan in flight will require less knob twisting. You can complete your flight planning on the Pilot app before going to the airplane and all plan data will automatically load into the navigators.
The Flight Stream connection also works with Garmin portable devices including the compact VIRB video camera and the D2 Pilot GPS. Up to four mobile electronic devices running the Pilot app can connect to Flight Stream simultaneously.
The downside of Flight Stream is that it works only with the Garmin Pilot app. If you use one of the many other very popular flight planning/charting apps it won’t work even though you have Garmin navigators or satellite receivers installed in your airplane. Garmin has piggybacked certification of the Flight Stream wireless connection onto the approvals for its installed equipment, and the Pilot app is part of that approval.
The basic Flight Stream 110 is priced at $549, and the full-capability 210 costs $999. Only avionics shops can perform the installation. Deliveries are expected to begin shortly after Oshkosh. The G3X Touch will be a free software update expected to be ready later this year.
You can see the Flight Stream systems in action at the Garmin exhibit at the Garmin Exhibit Hangar D at AirVenture Oshkosh.