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Goose meets ForeFlight

AI for GA now handles ForeFlight tasks

Flying with another pilot can reduce stress, workload, and risk, but humans weigh substantially more than an iPad.

Mirko Hahn was inspired to create the digital assistant that eventually became Goose while flying in the complex airspace of Southern California. Photo courtesy of Mirko Hahn.

As "artificial intelligence" has gained currency in the public conversation (if not a clear, consensus definition of what AI actually is), a German engineer, pilot, and digital entrepreneur created an iOS app that began as a checklist assistant and now interacts with ForeFlight, enabling pilots to use voice prompts to pull up charts, checklists, and other useful documents without need for finger taps or swipes.

Goose, the digital co-pilot created by AeroSys, a company that Mirko Hahn founded for the purpose, has been around for a few years, but is newly connected to ForeFlight.

Goose is designed to reduce workload, and allow a pilot to focus on flying. It can call out checklist items and respond to confirmation by moving to the next item and prompting. Goose can call up airport diagrams and instrument procedures; answer questions verbally; call out radio frequencies or airport elevation, as requested; and handle various other tasks that would normally require a pilot's eyes—or fingers—on the iPad.

A new version launched May 9 brings ForeFlight, the popular electronic flight bag, into Goose's grasp.

The Goose app can assist with a range of ForeFlight tasks, running as an overlay or alongside, as seen here, advancing a checklist as each item is verbally confirmed by the pilot. Image courtesy of Mirko Hahn.

The Boeing-owned EFB developer previously declined to connect with Goose when it was hardware-based, but development of the version that runs on iOS devices, which Hahn showed off at the Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Expo in April (and more recently in a videoconference with AOPA), prompted ForeFlight to provide a link to that app's public interface and documentation. This enabled Goose to be adjusted to integrate, allowing users to run it either side by side on an iPad, or as an overlay.

The app still reads stored checklists and logs flight activity, among other previously enabled functions, but Goose's EFB integration takes its capabilities to a new level—on the ground, or in the air.

"Other functions in other voice assistants require internet," Hahn said. "We do not."

The software began as a hardware module, with the code now written into a mobile app that uses the available onboard computing power (rather than an outside processor) to process and analyze natural speech, particularly including aviation phraseology.

"Both the voice recognition and the NLP [natural language processing], which is different, work completely offline," Hahn said, adding that Goose (the app) does not use a lot of power, and does not cause devices to overheat. "It is really smooth in the background."

Hahn, who previously led research on human-machine voice interaction for the German Aerospace Center, (part of a larger project which is ongoing after his departure) credits flight instructors (particularly Mark King at CP Aviation) he flew with in California, among many locations where he has lived, for inspiring him to bring the product that started as a hardware-based companion and eventually became Goose the app to market.

"It's something we more or less built from scratch for the aviation use case," Hahn said. "You won't use it to put Breaking Bad on your Netflix watch list or use it to order milk."

A private pilot (certificated by the FAA and licensed in Germany), Hahn began developing Goose—which works much like its cousins Siri and Alexa—as a hardware device originally named "Icarus." To condense nearly a decade of development into a sentence, this proved expensive and impractical.

In 2022, with that hardware-based voice assistant for pilots in hand, Hahn set up a display at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in Wisconsin, hoping to come away with upward of 200 orders to start production. Pilots kept their wallets shut. "I think we got one order," Hahn recalled, with a rueful smile.

"They all loved the product," Hahn continued. "There was really no one who didn't like the product, or the approach, or the vision."

Since a price measured in thousands was clearly too much for the market to bear, the engineer went to work adapting the concept to leverage the computing power of modern mobile devices.

Billed as "the world's first digital co-pilot for General Aviation," Goose began growing a subscriber base even before Goose was allowed to manipulate ForeFlight. The CEO behind the app connected an iPad running ForeFlight and Goose together into the videoconference to show what Goose can now do.

"Hey Goose," he began, describing a simple, direct route that appeared on ForeFlight's map view almost instantly. "Change origin to Kilo Mike India Alfa," updated the route, and from there Hahn used simple questions and aviation phraseology to display airport information, query the runway elevation, and run various checklists, with Goose prompting and Hahn confirming each item.

Goose has two "listening" modes, Hahn explained, active and standby. "Active scans everything you are saying, very much like a human co-pilot." In standby mode, Goose will patiently wait to be called on with a "hey, Goose."

Goose also responds to the word "Emergency," offering a relevant checklist based on the aircraft's current phase of flight or location.

What about just plain "Goose," or the irresistible, "Talk to me, Goose?" Both will most likely work, though "we've never, ever missed 'Hey, Goose'" in testing, Hahn reported, with evident pride. "With just 'Goose,' I think the recognition rate is still over 95 percent… I personally always use 'Hey, Goose.'"

Hahn is having some fun referencing Top Gun, and related Easter eggs await within Goose, including the response to a query about permission to fly by the tower: "Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full," Goose responded, in the device-default voice of Siri—though custom voice substitutions are available on the market for various devices and operating systems.

Hahn is optimistic that Paramount Pictures will not object: "We actually checked that and there shouldn't be any big issues."

Hahn said he planned to launch a Goose promotion, opening access to the full version of Goose, which includes voice recognition integration call-and-response capabilities, automated flight logging, and other features, at an introductory rate of $4.99 for three months. An annual Performance Plan subscription costs $36 thereafter, or $4.50 per month (month-to-month). Users may download the app directly from Apple's App Store (an Android version of a previous iteration of Goose, MiraCheck CoPilot, is still available in the Google Play store, though Hahn said the Android version of Goose is expected to arrive in a few weeks).

Photo courtesy of Mirko Hahn.
Jim Moore
Jim Moore
Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Gear, In-Flight Accessories, EFB

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