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Read our latest feature:   Show issue: MEBAA
Pilot solutions at heart of Appareo acquisition
The acquisition of EFB developer Aerovie brings app software under the umbrella of Appareo, allowing it to further develop its own Stratus 3 offering. New features will include speech recognition technology.
Bryan Heitman and Kris Garberg shake hands on EFB cooperation.

North Dakota, US-based electronics company Appareo has acquired electronic flight bag (EFB) developer Aerovie, whose suite includes an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) and synthetic vision, VFR sectional, IFR low/high and geo-referenced approach charts.

Appareo introduced the first Stratus portable ADS-B receiver in 2012. While the company has continued expanding on the hardware features and capabilities of Stratus receivers and transponders, it has been reliant on third-party flight apps to interface with the information provided by Stratus receivers. The first three generations of Stratus receivers (Stratus 1, Stratus 2, and Stratus 1S/2S/2i) were integrated with ForeFlight Mobile. The latest model, Stratus 3, was designed with Open ADS-B Mode, which means it integrates with any EFB app using GDL 90 protocol.

Following the launch of Stratus 3 last year, the engineers at Appareo began working with a number of EFB developers to ensure close integration with the newest model, among whom one of the first was Aerovie. “We were very impressed with the Aerovie team as we worked on the integration, and pleased with how smoothly it went,” says Appareo Aviation president Kris Garberg. “I started flying with the Aerovie app and Stratus 3 last year, and I was so impressed with the features and user experience that it became my 'go to' EFB.”

This was the catalyst for Appareo to move toward acquisition. Knowing that Aerovie was already performing well with Stratus 3, the company decided it was time to offer pilots a complete solution of tightly integrated hardware and software.

“All of us at Appareo Aviation are excited to work with Bryan Heitman and the Aerovie team to incorporate their exceptional EFB into the Appareo family, and offer a complete hardware and software solution. We plan to build on the success of Aerovie by adding many new features that will increase safety in the cockpit,” adds Garberg.

Some of the first additions will be features that Appareo developed for its own Stratus Horizon Pro app, introduced last year. This offers pilots helpful tools such as backup AHRS and radio playback, which captures air traffic control (ATC) communications and saves them for easy one-touch playback. Additionally, there's a beta feature called radio transcription that converts ATC communications into text displayed directly above the audio playback line.

Garberg goes on to say: “Our product development team has spent a considerable amount of effort developing speech recognition technology customised for aviation, and we're excited to embed that cutting-edge technology throughout the Aerovie app. Our product roadmap is focused on creating a safer, more convenient way to fly. It centres around a beyond-glass strategy, which is the future of aviation.”

Aerovie founder Bryan Heitman is a software developer, private pilot and self-proclaimed weather geek. As the EFB market was getting started, Heitman considered how he could utilise his skills to create something valuable for pilots. When Lockheed Martin Flight Services announced in 2014 it would provide PIREPS (pilot reports) into the national air system, Heitman saw an opportunity. He developed AerovieReports, the first app to deliver free PIREPS, and as it grew a following, so Heitman began adding features. “As a pilot, I was using some of the popular flight apps but there were gaps in their features. I decided to expand Aerovie to become a flight bag that provided everything I needed,” he says.

Since then, Aerovie has evolved into a full-featured cockpit tool designed to make pilots' lives easier and provide enhanced situational awareness. Preflight weather planning tools are designed to give pilots a deeper understanding of weather with, for example, radar forecast and a vertical weather profile tool that allows pilots to see conditions across their route of flight based on their aircraft speed and departure time.

“Being as committed as we were to providing robust and reliable weather tools, Stratus was definitely on our radar,” Heitman adds. “We saw Appareo leading the ADS-B market with the best quality receiver available, but our customers couldn't experience it until Stratus 3 was introduced.”

There is good news for pilots who own older models of Stratus receivers; the first enhancement planned for the app is support for Stratus 2, 1S, 2S, and 2i.

“We're very excited to take Aerovie to the next level by joining the Stratus product family. Our companies have been aligned in our commitment to GA over the years. We understand the unique needs of a single-pilot operation versus a crew, and we're committed to making flying safer and more friendly for that GA pilot,” Hetman adds.

Aerovie currently offers two subscription plans; $6.99 monthly or $69.99 annually. Current Aerovie app users will not experience a disruption in their service during the acquisition. Once additional features are added to the app, current and new subscribers will be able to select from various plan levels.

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