Bulletin: May 28 Data Updates

Data updates are now available to download for the May 28, 2015 – June 25, 2015 period:

  • Airport and Navigation Database
  • Documents, including the AOPA Fly-In Frederick NOTAM
  • ForeFlight Airport Diagrams
  • VFR Charts and Terminal Area Charts
  • World Area Charts
  • Taxi Diagrams
  • Terminal Procedures
  • Airport/Facility Diagrams
  • Documents

Data updates are also available for our Military Flight Bag customers:

  • Global airport, navigation, and airway coverage from the Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File
  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Terminal Procedures
  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Airport Diagrams
  • EEA High Enroutes, Area Charts
  • ENAME High and Low Enroutes, Area Charts
  • Airfield Qualification Program (AQP) diagrams
  • Airfield Suitability and Restrictions Report (Giant Report)
  • Airport/Facility Directory

All customers will be prompted to download these updates inside of ForeFlight Mobile.

Bulletin: May 19 Data Updates

Data updates are now available for the April 30, 2015 – May 28, 2015 and April 30, 2015 – June 28, 2015 periods:

  • Updated Terminal Procedures are available for Texas Southeast. The NNCEE One arrival at IAH has been replaced to addresses a recent FAA Safety Alert.
  • The Instrument Procedures Handbook has been updated in our Documents Catalog.

For our ForeFlight Mobile Pro Canada customers:

  • The Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual has been added to our Documents Catalog.
  • Toronto and Montreal VNC and VTA charts have been updated.

An Eventful Weekend with AOPA Salinas and Sporty’s Fly-In

Spring is in the air and so are we—this weekend ForeFlight team members are flying to Salinas, California for AOPA’s opening fly-in and Batavia, Ohio for Sporty’s annual event.

We’re proud to support AOPA’s second year of events that celebrate grassroots aviation. Visit with Josh and Thomas at booth #57 and experience new ForeFlight Mobile features like Procedure Preview, Chart Touch, FBOs on Taxi Charts, and Synthetic Vision.

The Clermont County Airport may be small, but this fly-in is big. Education seminars, a hot dog lunch, the RV-12 sweepstakes winner announcement, and more make this a fun day for all. ForeFlight team members Susan and Jason will be on hand to demonstrate the latest ForeFlight features. In addition, Jason (ForeFlight co-founder and CTO) presents “The Latest from ForeFlight” at 1:30 pm.

We hope to see you there!

Webinar: Weather Flying and the iPad

Recently ForeFlight’s own Weather Scientist, Scott Dennstaedt, and Sporty’s John Zimmerman hosted a webinar devoted to Weather Flying and the iPad. In this hour long session, learn about the basics of weather, discover how to utilize ForeFlight and the Stratus ADS-B receiver for the most informed and effective weather decision-making, and see ForeFlight and Stratus in action with real-world scenarios. This webinar is geared towards making you a safer, more strategic, and informed pilot in any weather situation.

ForeFlight 7 is Here. Faster Planning, Faster Downloads, and More.

With this release, planning gets even better with a more advanced Procedure Advisor and a dramatically improved navigation database that enables visual preview of SIDs, STARs, approaches, and pattern entries. Downloads are significantly faster and use less disk space. Chart Touch technology lets you see the margin information for sectional and IFR en-route charts. Cabin Altitude Advisor leverages integrated pressure sensors to alert you when things don’t seem quite right. Support for Apple Watch gives you at-a-glance weather, flight instruments, and timers. Our new web-based flight planning system delivers an industry first Web-to-Panel flight planning experience for supported avionics. ForeFlight Mobile version 7.0 is available now on the App Store.

More Efficient Route Planning with Departure, Arrival, and Instrument Procedure Preview 

Our Procedure Advisor tool now allows you to visually preview arrivals, departures, approach procedures, VFR traffic patterns, and Search and Rescue patterns prior to adding them to your route. Procedure preview makes it easy to see how various procedures enter and exit a terminal area.

To use procedure preview, enter a departure and destination in the Route Editor, then tap the Procedure button in the upper right of the Edit view:

Procedure button

A preview window displays the available departures, arrivals, approaches, traffic patterns, and optionally, SAR patterns.

Choose a procedure type to preview.

In this example, tap on ‘Departure (19)’ to view the graphical display of departure procedures out of the Houston area:

Departure procedures out of the Houston area.

The preview begins with a broad overview of the selected airport and geographic guides that outline each direction served by a particular procedure. After selecting an arrival or departure, either in the list on the left or by tapping one on the Map, transitions can be previewed and selected before adding it to the route.

Procedure Advisor also allows you to preview instrument approaches, including a flag on the best wind runway based on the current METAR. Once an approach is selected you can preview different entry points on top of the plate itself. When you are done, simply tap Add to Route.

You can also preview different traffic pattern entries with Traffic Pattern Advisor. The preview flags the best wind runway based on the current METAR and the best side for different VFR pattern entries. Once you have finished adding items to your route, simply tap Close (on the upper right) or tap outside the preview window to hide the Procedure Advisor.

Procedure preview is available on the iPad to Basic and Pro subscribers. 

New Chart Touch Feature Enables Chart Legends on the Maps View

You can now view US VFR Sectional and IFR Enroute chart legend panels directly on the Maps view. The new Chart Touch action allows you to rotate through each overlapping chart in turn based on where you tap the chart. To enable, select the gear icon in the Maps view; then, tap on Chart Touch Action.

Chart Touch settings button.

When “Bring chart to front” is selected, a single tap toggles between all available charts in the area, including switching between sectionals and terminal area charts. When “bring chart to front with legends” is selected, the chart side panel information is also displayed. You can turn off the Chart Touch feature at any time by selecting “No action.”

Chart Touch options menu.

Faster Downloads with Delta Downloads

With ForeFlight 7, we introduce faster and smaller downloads that use less disk space during cycle cross-over time. We call this Delta Downloads and the new system only delivers the ‘what changed’ data each month, resulting in a 70% to 90% reduction in download time without compromising chart quality. Delta Downloads includes terminal procedures, taxi charts, IFR and VFR charts, FAA A/FD, and Canada Flight Supplement data. As Delta Downloads rolls out, you will see the full benefit over the next couple of data cycles. As a customer, there is no action you need to take. Delta Downloads happens automatically for all subscribers.

Stay Safe at High Altitudes with Cabin Altitude Advisor

In the past year, hypoxia and depressurization have claimed pilot lives. We hope Cabin Altitude Advisor helps to prevent future accidents like these. Cabin Altitude Advisor takes advantage of the barometer sensor built-in to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Air 2. The advisor alerts pilots when crossing through 12,000 feet MSL and 25,000 feet MSL. The audio and visual alert triggers once every 30 minutes for each altitude. Pressure Altitude is also available to display in the Instrument panel.

 

A New Look in the Downloads View

In the Downloads view, you will now see VFR charts (TACs and Sectionals) listed by chart name instead of by State.

New look in Downloads view.You can refer to a Chart legend for VFR chart coverage or simply use Pack to ensure that the charts you need for a trip are downloaded to your device.

ForeFlight on Your Wrist with Apple Watch

ForeFlight 7 introduces Apple Watch support, including weather at-a-glance, instruments, and timers.

ForeFlight Lands on Your Desktop

We are excited to announce that ForeFlight flight planning is coming to your web browser. ForeFlight Web Beta enables a full screen desktop experience, automatically syncs to ForeFlight Mobile, and offers seamless Web-to-Panel capabilities via ForeFlight Connect. Our Web-to-Panel concept is a first in flight planning, where web planning activity syncs to your mobile device and loads into the panel of supported avionics like Dynon SkyView.

ForeFlight Web Beta will initially be available to existing ForeFlight customers. We envision this as a very collaborative product development process with our customers. Features will evolve quickly with frequent releases, driven by our vision and by customer feedback. ForeFlight customers who are interested in this Beta program are invited to sign up at www.foreflight.com/web. Invitations to the Beta will be released in phases.

Bulletin: April 30 Data Updates

Data updates are now available to download for the April 30, 2015 – May 28, 2015 and April 30, 2015 – June 28, 2015 periods:

  • Airport and Navigation Database
  • ForeFlight Airport Diagrams
  • North American Obstacles
  • Documents, including the EAA AirVenture 2015 NOTAM

From the FAA:

  • VFR Charts and Terminal Area Charts
  • World Area Charts
  • High and Low Enroutes, Area Charts
  • Caribbean High and Low Enroutes, Area Charts
  • Ocean Planning Charts
  • Taxi Diagrams
  • Terminal Procedures
  • Airport/Facility Diagrams
  • Documents

An updated Terminal Procedures download for New York is also available for the April 2, 2015 – April 30, 2015 period to address a safety alert.

For our ForeFlight Mobile Pro Canada customers:

  • Taxi Diagrams
  • Terminal Procedures
  • High and Low Enroutes
  • Canada Flight Supplement
  • Documents

For our Military Flight Bag customers:

  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Terminal Procedures
  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Airport Diagrams
  • CSA High and Low Enroutes, Area Charts
  • PAA High and Low Enroutes, Area Charts
  • D-FLIP Publications such as Planning Change Notices, Area Planning Documents,
  • Chart Supplements, Enroute Change Notices, and Terminal Change Notices.
  • Airfield Qualification Program (AQP) diagrams
  • Airfield Suitability and Restrictions Report (Giant Report)
  • Airport/Facility Directory

All customers will be prompted to download these updates inside of ForeFlight Mobile.

A Layered Approach In ForeFlight

In addition to all of the other great features introduced in ForeFlight Mobile 6.8, we also enhanced the app to allow more layers to be displayed simultaneously on the Map view. Many of these layers are mutually exclusive of one another. That is, when you select a new layer, it will replace the current layer (if any) that was previously selected.  For instance, the app will not allow the Radar and Satellite layer to be displayed at the same time. Therefore, with the Radar layer on, selecting the Satellite layer will deselect and hide Radar layer.

Having this dependency certainly makes sense when selecting between many of the airport-specific layers such as Flight Category, Temperature and Ceiling just to name a few. That dependency hasn’t changed. However, the Pilot Weather Reports (PIREPs) and Lightning layers are not tied to an airport and can now be overlaid individually or together with any of the other Map layers.

Multiple Overlays on Map View

When viewing the Satellite layer, be sure to select Sky Coverage, PIREPs and Lightning for the most complete picture.

This was primarily done to allow users to select the satellite layer while also displaying Sky Coverage along with Lightning as discussed in this earlier blog post. Adding on the PIREPs layer will provide an even greater situational awareness of the weather occurring at any particular location as shown above. If you were to visit the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Missouri, you will notice on the image below that they also make heavy use of overlays.

AWC Overlay Screen

Forecasters often overlay sky coverage and AIRMETs over the visible satellite image.

But if you really want to go crazy, you can select up to seven layers to be displayed at the same time as shown below.  But let’s not go crazy.

Everything Selected

Adding too many layers can render the Map view unreadable.

 

Automated Ceiling Reports

Every day pilots use surface observations to make many routine operational decisions before or during any particular flight. For example, as you approach an airport you have been trained to listen to the ground-to-air radio broadcast to determine the preferred landing runway based on the current wind direction. Or even before you are in radio coverage you may have been following the latest FIS-B METAR broadcast received by your Stratus and displayed in the ForeFlight Mobile app. Many of these observations come from automated systems. So it is critical that pilots at all experience levels understand how these systems collect and process the weather data especially those automated ceiling reports.

Approach-LNS

Listen to the ground-to-air radio broadcast when approaching an airport.

The two primary automated observing systems deployed at many airports throughout the United States includes the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) and the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS). These automated systems like the one shown here consist of a collection of electronic sensors that measure the environment, and then process the data to create an observation once every minute. Even though these automated systems create a completely new observation every minute, they must have adequate sensor samples to develop an accurate observation. In order to provide a representative observation at an airport, the automated hardware must continuously collect the sensor’s real-time data over a period of time. The automated system applies an algorithm to the collected data to extrapolate the weather to cover a wider area.

METAR-ForeFlight

Get the latest observation from ForeFlight Mobile before departing.

This is especially important when considering the observation for sky cover and cloud base height. When approaching an airport, for example, pilots don’t necessarily want to know what’s happening instantly over the sensor since it may not always be representative of the sky condition throughout the airport’s terminal area. Most importantly, it might vary quite a bit between reports.

Automated systems employ an upward-pointing laser beam ceilometer to determine sky cover and cloud height such as the sensor shown here. The cloud height indicator, for instance, transmits a little over 9,000 pulses in 12 seconds, but it’s not these individual samples that are used for the observation. Instead, this data is collected over a period of 30 minutes before a ceiling or sky cover observation is considered acceptable and broadcast to the pilot. So the ceiling report your see on ForeFlight or the one you hear from the ground-to-air radio broadcast is based on a sampling of 30 minutes of data and not the most recent sensor sample taken.

Airports-View-METAR

Automated report in the Airports View in ForeFlight Mobile.

Based on studies, 30 minutes of data provides a fairly reasonable description of sky conditions. This means that the system will detect and process all the clouds (if any) passing over the sensor in the past 30 minutes. To account for the latest sky conditions, the result is biased by counting the last 10 minutes of data twice, a technique referred to as double weighting. Using the last 30 minutes of data in this way will allow the system to determine the height and sky cover included in the surface observation and this becomes a reasonable estimate of the sky conditions that is valid over a three to five statute mile radius around the airport.

Keep in mind that these automated systems have a few important limitations. For instance, automated systems can only report clouds that are below 12,000 feet AGL. This means that an overcast cloud deck at 15,000 feet AGL will be reported as clear. Effectively, a clear sky report from an automated station means the sky is free of clouds below 12,000 feet AGL even though it still may be an overcast day.

Tower-LNS

Towered airport with a trained observer present.

While many high-impact airports throughout the U.S. still rely on a trained weather observer to construct the routine or special observation (SPECI), automated systems supply them with uniform and objective data for the observation. However, automated systems measure only the weather that passes directly through the sensor array so it is not able to report what’s happening outside the airport’s runway complex. Trained weather observers can certainly augment the observation to add these details such as clouds with bases above 12,000 AGL. By the way, the NWS is looking to extend the capabilities of the ceilometer to automatically report clouds above 12,000 feet, but don’t hold your breath; it may take several years before such a solution becomes available.

Bulletin: April 13 Data Updates

Data updates are available for the April 2, 2015 – April 30, 2015 period.

New Terminal Procedures downloads are available for Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. These downloads replace the Diverse Vector Area information for KPDX and address an FAA Safety Alert.

We have also updated the Pilot’s Guide to ForeFlight Mobile in our document catalog.

All customers will be prompted to download these updates inside of ForeFlight Mobile.