Equipment Advice

Hey guys! So I am going to be starting at ATP in Scottsdale this August from Zero Time and am starting to look into the equipment I am going to need for my start date! For those who have been through the program, would you recommend that I invest in higher quality gear (nice headset, new iPad with lots of storage, etc) upfront with hopes that it will last well into my career or go for more budget-friendly options just to get me through flight school and then figure it out from there? It seems like there are quite a variety of options out there and while I am sure that a $1000 headset might be unnecessary for a new pilot, I wasn’t sure if the <$100 options would be the best route to go either. I greatly appreciate any additional input/advice anyone may have about specific items or gear that might be needed but is not listed on the ATP website. Thanks!


Buying a headset is an investment. Since it will get a lot of use you will want to buy one of good quality. I prefer Bose A20. DC PRO-X and DC ONE-X are good headsets too. Whichever one you buy, make sure it is TSO compliant. All of the ones I just mentioned are. Just stay away from the Lightspeeds. They are comparable to the Bose A20 except they are not TSO compliant.


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Totally your call but as Tory said a good headset is an investment. Beyond that while you’ll get years of use from a good one (including your flying while at a Regional) I believe it’s value is greatest when you are first starting out. Good headsets (I’m a Bose guy) are quieter, clearer, lighter and more comfortable. You will have some long days training (and instructing). Radio comm can be challenging for many. Aside from the fact it’s a new and VERY important skill a quiet clear headset will make the process incredibly easier than a noisy tinny sounding one. Also training aircraft don’t have air conditioning. You WILL be hot and sweaty, a lighter headset that doesn’t feel like a clamp on your head will help (some).

Again your call but if you’re serious about being a professional, then get some pro gear.


What about the iPad? Do you recommend we get the brand new pros or should we just get one of the older models that meets the criteria?

Before I started I did the asking around, and researching as well. Majority of the answers were Bose A20. So, I decided to go to the bose store and try them on. I have worn two other headsets during my intro flights, so I was a little familiar of a difference I might experience. When I tried the Bose on they were so comfortable and already quiet that I decided that would be my big purchase/investment. I wanted to be comfortable and be able to hear coms well too. Noise cancelling is a huge difference, Game changer. You can find Bose used, but have to be quick. Join the ATP facebook page, sometimes students will sell their headsets cheaper as they upgrade. You could go without the bluetooth and resell them later on if you want to, they do retain a good value. In the end, if you can go to a nearby pilot shop and try them on.


Any iPad that meets the criteria should be fine. I wouldn’t get a first generation, but if you wanted save some money by purchasing a previous model, I would.


I’m not certain, but I believe Apple limits the IOS version that older IPads can be updated to. This may be an issue if attempting to install Foreflight

I got an email from them earlier this year regarding my Ipad Mini 2:

Dear Customer,

We want to make you aware that Apple iOS 10.3 will soon become the minimum supported iOS for new versions of ForeFlight Mobile. This change is expected to happen with an app release in the coming months.

After the new iOS minimum goes into effect, devices that are not running at least iOS 10.3 will not be able to install new versions of ForeFlight. However, app functionality for recent versions of ForeFlight will not be affected. Essential features like chart downloads, documents, and data syncing will continue to work as they do now.

Your account is associated with at least one of the following devices that cannot update to iOS 10.3 and will not be able to install new versions of ForeFlight:

iPad 2
iPad 3
iPad Mini 1
iPhone 4S

We’re planning to add many exciting new features to ForeFlight this year, so consider upgrading your iOS devices soon so you’re ready when they arrive. Take a look at our iPad Buying Guide to see which models we recommend.

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Thanks Trey! Very helpful :blush:



I would always purchase the most up to date technology, but that is just me. I find that the older ones become out of date too quickly.


Thank you all for your help! I had not thought about how much more important it will be to hear clearly when I am still getting used to comms so that was definitely some valuable input, I am looking forward to getting in the air soon! As for the size of the iPad, does the cockpit feel too small to cram a large iPad Pro in there or is it really that much better to have a larger screen for ForeFlight?

I have the iPad (2017) 9.7 inch model, and while it’s great for studying with, a lot of us who have gotten that size regret it to some degree as it limits space on our lap while flying. The yoke tends to hit my iPad when checking flight controls. But I still like it, it just can be annoying when doing maneuvers or taxing. You have to go in person and really get a sense of what feels right for you. I was told today that iPad Pro at Best Buy wasn’t that much more expensive than the iPad 9.7. Again, shop around and I’m sure you can find a good price. But I agree with Chris, technology gets old quickly.

Hope that helps!

Don’t forget to check for refurbished deals on the online Apple Store. I buy all of my Macs that way and have never once been able to tell a difference.

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That’s good advice. I will definitely peruse the refurbished options.

I just received by iPad 9.7 (2017) refurb from Apple. I can’t tell the difference from a new one my son has. $428 shipped for a 128 Gb with WiFi and LTE which you’ll need.

I already had a Sigtronics PNR headset that I will try to get more mileage out of before I upgrade.

Sweet man. Thanks for the info. So you can just browse the refurbished stuff on the apple website?

The absolute best deals out there. Just keep an eye on when the release date was so you do not purchase anything too old.

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Budget is a likely a large factor for most in a decision for a headset and iPad, but some great suggestions have already been said regarding other variables to take into account as well.

Here are some additional thoughts on the matter:

  • Consider purchasing an iPad that is modern enough to still receive and continue to receive support for years to come from Apple regarding software updates (bug patches, functionality improvements, etc.) and updates from the EFB app (in this case, Foreflight) that you’ll be using that you want to ensure proper compatibility with. The iPad mini series for example, may not be around for much longer as it has not been updated for years, but maybe Apple will update it down the line to a new version. However, with the mini 4 being years old already (I think it came out in 2015 if memory serves right), that limits the years left that it may receive software update support. That could potentially cause issues with compatibility of apps, as well as the user experience with the advancements of apps as they may require more processing power.

  • Consider purchasing an iPad with whether you are purchasing it for the functionality that will suffice just for the short term or have it serve you well for further years down the line. Comparing the specs of the various versions available helps to determine what features are important to you. Features some people may believe is not important or not worth the money may not be so for another person. Examples of this include: Some see the mini’s 7.9” screen versus the standard iPad’s 9.7” screen as a better fit in smaller planes and easier to mount/secure whether that be on a kneeboard, yoke, or suction mount, but it’s more challenging to see for some. However, the larger screen of the standard iPad at 9.7” (or the 10.5” Pro) can be easier to see and may be a better fit for someone to use it for studying and general purpose work, as well as in the plane, but it takes up a bit more room. If you use a kneeboard, it may be a good idea to ensure that kneeboard has the ability to rotate the iPad easily from portrait to landscape to help save some room from the airplanes yoke when using a 9.7” or 10.5” iPad. Another example is comparing the 2017 iPad Pro 10.5” versus the 2018 iPad 9.7” features. The 2017 Pro (not a complete comparison) has a laminated screen (which provides less space between the glass and screen), more processing power, has a anti-reflective coating (a nice feature to have in sunny conditions since the glass doesn’t reflect as much), larger screen and smaller bezels without too much of an overall increase in form-factor/dimensions, very slightly thinner, has double the refresh rate (120Hz) of the standard iPad (60Hz) which provides for very smooth scrolling that can be noticed on Foreflight’s maps page for sectional charts, etc., and has almost double the screen brightness ability of the standard iPad as that can come in handy in sunny conditions as well. The standard 2018 iPad 9.7” does not have the features listed above that the 2017 Pro has, but it does now support Apple Pencil, just as the Pro does. This is a great new feature since it can be useful in ForeFlight for people who like to write down notes digitally or to use it for writing study notes on the ground, among many other uses. The 2018 iPad 9.7” also has an amazing processor that can run many of today’s applications well, comes in a 128GB version to help with storage, and reasonably priced (definitely a lower entry point in comparison to the Pro version). Many people would likely be happy with any of the current iPad’s regardless of being a mini, Pro, or standard 9.7”. The 2018 iPad 9.7” was released recently and obviously available now, but the 2018 iPad Pro has not been announced yet (who knows, maybe they’ll announce a new one at the upcoming event in just over a week from now). If a new Pro version is announced, hopefully the price will drop on the 2017 Pro. It may be worth waiting a little over a week to find out before purchasing an iPad if the Pro is the version you’re looking at. As you can see, there are lots of options, and many would work well. It depends on the functionality, features, and price point that is best aligned with what is important to you for what it’s being used for.

  • Consider selecting a cellular version of an iPad primarily because of the internal A-GPS chip (although not going to be as accurate as an external GPS unit that is WAAS capable) since the WiFi only iPad’s do not include an internal GPS. You do not need to activate the cellular plan to use the GPS in a cellular version iPad. Some people choose to activate a cellular data plan for their cellular capable iPad and it may or may not be worth the extra cost. If a person has tethering ability from their phone data plan and/or has available nearby WiFi, it may not be worth the extra money for an iPad data plan. For those that cannot tether data from their phone’s cell data plan and/or does not have nearby WiFi available, it may be worth it to them.

  • Consider purchasing a headset of high quality such as one that provides comfort, durability, longevity, clear transmissions, good hearing protection, good customer support, are TSO compliant (helps for when a company requires it when you fly for an airline), has the least amount of fatigue through years of flying, etc. If possible, trying on a variety of different display headsets may be a good idea at a nearby pilot shop. I have owned several headsets, and have tried on many others, and definitely have a great idea now of my preference. For example, some people like over the ear headsets, while some prefer in the ear headsets. Some headsets are much heavier than others and can cause unnecessary fatigue, while others have more clamping force of the headband and earcups. A high quality headset is extremely important.

I tend to purchase items that will provide what I believe best fits my needs and will serve me well for years to come, even if I have to spend a bit more than I would like. I would rather spend once and receive years of happy and high quality functionality, rather than spend multiple times on something(s) of lesser quality to receive less overall satisfaction and functionality to save some money on the initial purchase (if it happened to work out that way).

Good luck on your search and what you decide to purchase!

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In regards to headsets; I bought my Lightspeed PFX off eBay way cheaper than brand new and they have lasted me very well through a year and a half at ATP, 7 months at my first regional, and so far so good in the 135 Jet world.