Flight Notifications and NOTAM Advisor Deliver Superior Awareness of Conditions Affecting Your Flight

As you well know, the wall-of-text preflight weather briefing we receive from the FAA has not changed all that much over the last several decades. We believe in a better way to deliver this information that is more targeted, easier to digest, and will help you stay better informed on every flight. With ForeFlight Mobile 6.5 we unveil two firsts in mobile flight planning capabilities that advance preflight weather briefings in two key areas: flight conditions monitoring and NOTAMs.

Flight Notifications Keep You Ahead of the Weather

The first new capability is Flight Notifications. ForeFlight monitors your planned flight and synthesizes flight condition alerts from its systems and from others, including Lockheed Martin’s Adverse Conditions Alerting Service (ACAS). When a significant change in route or weather conditions is detected we send you a notification containing a summary and detailed description of the condition.

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Flight Notifications shown in the File & Brief view.

A critical gap in communication can occur in the time between getting a flight briefing and taking-off when there is potential for you to miss updates to flight conditions. ForeFlight co-founder Jason Miller experienced this situation while preparing for a flight home from Ohio:

Icing Flight Notification

 

“A new icing airmet came in shortly after I filed. The notification came right to my iPad and made me aware of the change in weather conditions. I was able to take the new information into account before leaving the ground. Without the notification, I might have missed it.”

 

 

Flight Notifications addresses this pilot awareness gap by delivering any new or modified condition information to your mobile device as it occurs. Flight Notifications are also tied to ForeFlight’s Sync system, meaning notifications get delivered to all of your devices.

Flight Notifications detail view

Flight Notification detail view.

Notifications include updates to: TFRs, airport/runway closed/unsafe NOTAMs, urgent PIREPs, SIGMETs, Convective SIGMETs, AIRMETs, Center Weather Advisories (CWAs), and Severe Weather Watches/Warnings.

How To Receive Flight Notifications

There are two Settings in ForeFlight Mobile that control this feature.

Flight Notifications use ForeFlight’s Sync platform so you will need to turn this on in order to receive the notifications. Enable Sync by navigating to More > Settings, then scroll all the way to the bottom.

Synchronize User Data Setting

Turn Sync ON in the More > Settings view.

The second setting is found in the flight plan form. You can choose to turn Flight Notifications ON or OFF for each individual flight plan you file.

Flight Notifications flight plan form setting.

Turn Flight Notifications ON in the flight plan form.

Flight Notifications are delivered to flight plans filed via ForeFlight Mobile using Lockheed Martin as the filing service. Filing your flight with Lockheed Martin does not require any special action, simply tap ‘File’ from the File & Brief view. You will need to disconnect your DUATS account in order to receive Flight Notifications. Navigate to the More > Accounts view to sign out of DUATS.

Flight Notifications appear as an entry at the top of your flight plan form and a badge alert on the File & Brief tab notifies you that updates to route conditions are available to view. Each notification includes a brief summary, as well as a more detailed description.

Flight Notifications is available to all ForeFlight subscribers.

NOTAM Advisor for Instrument Procedures and Airports

The second capability is a feature we call NOTAM Advisor. When you display an instrument procedure or an airport diagram, ForeFlight cross checks its system for procedure and location specific NOTAMS and displays a warning banner that shows a count of relevant NOTAMs. Tap the banner to view the NOTAMs that are matched to the airport or instrument procedure.

NOTAM Advisor on airport diagram

A red banner on the airport diagram or instrument procedure alerts you to view related NOTAMs.

It is easy to miss a procedure NOTAM during planning. The FAA continues to work towards standardization, but the current state of the FAA’s NOTAM system and wall-of-text briefings make it difficult or very time consuming to ensure that you’ve caught everything. ForeFlight’s NOTAM Advisor proactively notifies you of relevant NOTAMs which may apply to the instrument procedures you intend to fly. It is not a guarantee that all NOTAMs can be matched due to the gaps in standardization that still exist, but we continue to refine our matching process.

Viewing the NOTAM Advisor

NOTAM Advisor filters notices based on the airport diagram, SID, STAR, instrument approach, or departure procedure you are viewing. Tap on the red banner for quick access to the notices.

Tap on the red banner to access NOTAMs.

 

Keyword highlight on NOTAM Advisor

 

When it is possible to detect them, key words are highlighted to indicate important information.

 

 

 

 

NOTAM Advisor is available to all ForeFlight subscribers.

More Improvements and Fixes in ForeFlight Mobile 6.5:

  • Optimization for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Compatibility with the higher resolution screens enables ForeFlight Mobile to show more information without scrolling (e.g. favorites and recents lists).
  • Auto-show taxi is expanded to the Maps view. When turned ON and in the Maps view, Show Taxi on Map automatically switches to the current airport taxi diagram without leaving the Maps view. This allows you to continue in Track Up mode after landing.
  • Improvements to Stratus platform to ensure the integrity of secure communications between the Stratus 2 and ForeFlight Mobile.
  • Improvements to airport services information.
  • New helper messages when filing flight plans.
  • Improvements for better performance on iOS 8.1.

ForeFlight Mobile 6.5 is a free update from the App Store and is available to all current customers. Click here for instructions on updating to the latest version.

From the Archives: ForeFlight Mobile 1.0 B-Roll

Video

A friend sent in this video today. This is some B-roll of the the first ForeFlight marketing video we ever shot of ForeFlight Mobile (back then it was called “ForeFlight iPhone Edition”): version 1.0 from 2007. This was back when “apps” for the iPhone were just web pages. Developers were not able to make native apps until the summer of 2008, when ForeFlight Mobile 2.0 launched.

ForeFlight Mobile Adds Color-Enhanced Infrared Satellite

To celebrate fall, we’ve added a touch of color to our global satellite layer! The color-enhanced infrared (IR) satellite image is designed to visually highlight the coldest cloud tops. Cold cloud tops are often indicative of active thunderstorms that can produce severe or extreme convective turbulence. The animated satellite layer updates every thirty minutes and is accessed in the map mode menu in the Maps view.

IR-Satellite-1-fix

How IR Satellite Imagery Works

Any object that has a temperature warmer than absolute zero will emit radiation at many different wavelengths. Radiation produced by the earth and its atmosphere is emitted spaceward from land masses, oceans, lakes and the top of most clouds. Satellite sensors are used to measure this radiation that includes both visible light and those wavelengths that are invisible to the naked eye. The radiation emitted in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum is the source of data used to build our IR satellite layer.

To create this layer, five geostationary satellites look at the entire earth (with the exception of polar regions) and measure the amount of infrared energy being emitted. The infrared satellite sensor measures the amount of energy and calibrates it to temperature using a very simple physical relationship known as Planck’s Law.

High clouds are very cold and emit less infrared radiation than warmer clouds near Earth’s surface. Furthermore, land masses are usually warmer than most clouds. Since the satellite can’t directly distinguish between the earth’s surface and clouds, we employ a software algorithm that determines where it is cloudy and where the sky is clear. While this works well most of the time, snow cover, fog and even the oceans can sometimes fool the algorithm. We recommend using the Sky Coverage and the Satellite layers together to get the most accurate picture.

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How To Interpret IR Satellite Imagery

Data measured by the satellites is calibrated and colorized according to the temperature. Warmer objects emit more infrared energy and colder objects less. Shades of gray are used to represent the lowest-topped clouds; the darker the shade of gray, the lower the cloud tops. For higher-topped clouds, color is added. Just above the lightest shades of gray you may see blue and green colors introduced representing still colder and higher tops. Above this, shades of red, orange and yellow represent the coldest and highest cloud tops.

As the temperature of the atmosphere generally decreases with height, a pilot can get a pretty good idea which clouds are high-level and which are low-level based on the color or shades of gray depicted.

Global Coverage

The IR Satellite layer allows you to quickly locate the most dangerous weather anywhere in the world. Ground-based radar provides a multitude of information on the location and movement of convective weather, however it is limited to US and Canada. The IR Satellite layer gives you a global, at a glance view of significant weather. This is especially important if you are planning a flight over large bodies of water.

In this image over central Africa, you can quickly see where the most significant weather is located, especially in regions that have a cellular appearance depicted in deep red, orange and yellow colors.

IR-Satellite-6

One thing to note is that thick cirrus clouds at very high altitudes will also show up as very cold clouds even though they may not be associated with deep, moist convection. Most of the time these high cirrus clouds do not have the same cellular appearance as convective clouds and thus have very little variation in color.

More Sync and New Performance Planning in ForeFlight Mobile 6.4

ForeFlight Mobile version 6.4 is now available for download on the App Store.

New Performance Planning Capability

ForeFlight Mobile version 6.4 introduces taxi and take-off, climb, cruise, and descent performance data fields for aircraft profiles. Add these details to your aircraft profile for a more accurate fuel burn and time en route estimate (ETE) for the planned route.

To add this information, navigate to the aircraft profile (More > Aircraft). Open the profile, scroll down, and you will see the new data fields.

Add performance data to your aircraft profile.

Add performance data to your aircraft profile.

As you plan your route in the Maps view, use the Altitude Advisor to generate a current winds aloft forecast. The winds aloft forecast is intelligently integrated into your flight performance calculation, adjusting for things like more time in climb the higher your planned altitude and the winds at different altitudes during your climb and descent. These calculations give you a more precise fuel burn and time enroute estimate, especially for aircraft that spend more time in the climb phase to reach a higher cruise altitude.

For comparison, this table from our Pilot’s Guide shows the performance results for three different routes using the new performance planning fields (“Detailed”) versus just the average airspeed and fuel burn (“Simple”):

Aircraft performance comparison with example routes.

Aircraft performance comparison with example routes.

The Altitude Advisor also uses your aircraft performance data to make assumptions about how much time it will take your aircraft to climb to the selected cruise altitude before it needs to descend to the destination. The winds aloft entries are shown as dashes for altitudes above this point and no-wind performance data will be displayed in the NavLog.

Tap the Altitude button in the Route Editor to access the Altitude Advisor.

Tap the Altitude button in the Route Editor to access the Altitude Advisor.

Taxi and take-off fuel use is reported in the total fuel used for the trip. In the NavLog, the leg data will only include data for that leg, but the totals column will include the taxi and take-off fuel burn.

Total trip performance, including taxi and take off fuel, is shown along the bottom of the NavLog.

Total trip performance, including taxi and take off fuel, is shown along the bottom of the NavLog.

Sync Extended to Aircraft Profiles, Flight Plans

ForeFlight Mobile 6.4 brings aircraft profiles and flight plans into our cloud-based Sync feature.

6.4-iPad-iPhone-sync

Sync gives you more flexibility to move between devices during the flight planning and filing process. Your activity syncs and so each device is ready to pick up where you leave off. Plan your route and start your flight plan form on your iPad, then file or make changes on your iPhone. Each edit to the flight plan form or change to flight plan status is reflected on each device when it connects to the Internet. The text weather Brief associated with a flight plan also syncs.

No need to manually duplicate your aircraft profile information. Build your profile once on any device signed in to your ForeFlight account and Sync does the rest. The performance planning information you just added to your new or existing aircraft profile will also automatically sync across your devices.

To enable Sync, navigate to More > Settings > Preferences and turn Synchronize User Data ON.

Enable Sync in the Settings view.

Enable Sync in the Settings view.

In addition to these new capabilities, Sync reflects all of your recent and favorite routes, airports, weather imagery, and user waypoints across each device that is signed in to your ForeFlight account.

World Aeronautical Charts

World Aeronautical Charts (WACs) covering Continental US, Alaska, northern Mexico, and the northern Caribbean are now available as an overlay in the Maps view. Select the World Aeronautical layer from the drop down to view these charts:

World Aeronautical Charts shown in ForeFlight Mobile.

World Aeronautical Charts shown in ForeFlight Mobile.

In your Download Settings (More > Downloads), select World Aeronautical Charts in the United States and the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America coverages to enable bulk download of the chart type and to view them offline.

Select World Aeronautical Charts in the Downloads view.

Select World Aeronautical Charts in the Downloads view.

Customers with both USA and Canada subscriptions can simultaneously display the World Aeronautical and Canada VNC map layers for a complete VFR chart view covering all of the USA and Canada.

A tip for customers with both US and Canada subscriptions--select World Aeronautical and Canada VNC overlays in the Maps view for a full VFR chart view.

A tip for customers with both US and Canada subscriptions–select World Aeronautical and Canada VNC overlays in the Maps view for a full VFR chart view.

Tap on the Maps Settings button to turn Chart Legends ON. Then tap on an area of the chart to reveal the corresponding legend.

Display WAC legends on the Maps view.

Display WAC legends on the Maps view.

More Flight Recording Options Available with Stratus 2

ForeFlight Mobile 6.4 delivers firmware update version 1.6 to the Stratus 2 and unlocks the receiver’s flight data recorder making Stratus 2 the only available ADS-B receiver that has this capability.

Flight recording is a great tool for flight instructors and new pilots to visually debrief each flight. Students can see progress over time as they practice maneuvers and instructors can reinforce the effects of wind on performing those maneuvers. In addition, you always have a record of your flights to help with filling out your logbook.

Students and instructors can review pattern work using Google Earth.

Students and instructors can review pattern work using Google Earth.

Stratus 2 records position, speed, and altitude data throughout each flight onto the receiver’s built-in memory. Set the Stratus to record automatically when the unit is powered on and the built-in GPS senses motion.

In this mode, recording continues until the Stratus is turned off. After your flight, seamlessly transfer the Track Log data to ForeFlight Mobile where the logs are available to view, share, and debrief on all of your devices, as well as on foreflight.com.

Access Stratus recorder settings from the Maps view.

Access Stratus recorder settings from the Maps view.

The Stratus flight data recorder settings are accessible in two ways:

  1. From the Maps view: tap the Maps Settings (gear button along the top of the screen), then under Devices tap Stratus 2. Scroll down to Flight Data Recorder and slide the Enabled toggle ON.
  2. From the More view: tap Devices, then tap on the Stratus 2 box. Scroll down to Flight Data Recorder and slide the Enabled toggle ON.

Stratus 2 records approximately twenty hours of GPS and AHRS data and automatically deletes the oldest track log to make room for a new track log. The Stratus flight data recorder saves data regardless of whether you use ForeFlight Mobile’s Track Log record button.

To update the Stratus firmware, update ForeFlight Mobile to version 6.4, then connect your device to the Stratus 2 Wi-Fi network. Navigate to More > Devices > Stratus 2 > Firmware to apply the firmware update.

More Improvements and Fixes

  • The Weight & Balance setup interview now prompts a warning when the empty arm is entered instead of empty moment, or when a smaller than expected empty moment is entered (i.e. empty moment is divided by 100 or 1000 directly from the POH).
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements.
  • For the V-22 pilots out there, we’ve got your Tilt Rotor location marker:
Choose from a variety of location markers in the Settings menu.

Choose from a variety of location markers in the Settings menu.

Our Pilot’s Guide is up to date and contains full details on the new features. Download the Pilot’s Guide onto your device using the built-in catalog in the Documents view.

Bulletin: November 13 Data Updates

Data updates are now available to download for the November 13, 2014 – December 12, 2014 and November 13, 2014 – January 8, 2015 periods:

  • Airport and Navigation Database
  • ForeFlight Airport Diagrams, including over 100 new diagrams on November 13
  • North American Obstacles

From the FAA:

  • VFR Charts and Terminal 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

For our ForeFlight Mobile Pro Canada customers:

  • High and Low Enroutes
  • Canada Flight Supplement
  • Documents

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
  • 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.

ForeFlight and Able Flight Announce New Flight Training Scholarships

Able Logo w shad 2 largeWe are pleased to announce our continued support of Able Flight over the next three years via a new series of ForeFlight/Able Flight flight training scholarships. We admire and are inspired by the hard work and commitment the Able Flight pilots put forth to earn their wings. Helping Able Flight to transform the lives of people with disabilities through the gift of flight is a very rewarding way for us to give back to the aviation community.

Able Flight’s mission is to offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight and aviation career training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance.

The first recipient of the ForeFlight/Able Flight Scholarship will be in 2015. In addition, Able Flight will be hosting its Annual Benefit Party for the Scholarship Fund in ForeFlight’s headquarter city, Houston, TX, next May. To learn more about Able Flight and to apply for a scholarship, visit www.ableflight.org/scholarships.

Bulletin: Canada High Resolution Terrain Data Update

New High Resolution Terrain downloads are available for Canada. This update addresses an issue where terrain heights could be displayed lower than their actual values in areas north of 59 degrees latitude.

All customers who have selected Canada High Resolution Terrain will be prompted to download this update inside of ForeFlight Mobile and should do so immediately.

Welcoming Scott Dennstaedt

At ForeFlight we know from first hand experience that weather plays a critical role in aviation and is often the number one worry that a pilot faces before and during flight.  To better serve that critical need, we are excited to announce that Scott Dennstaedt has joined the ForeFlight team.

Scott has been well-known for his aviation weather expertise for many years, and will now  lead the ForeFlight team in the role of Weather Scientist.  His background and experience as a CFI, research meteorologist, and founder of the excellent AvWxWorkshops.com provide a unique set of qualifications that will help ForeFlight remain the gold standard among pilots for flight planning and in-flight support.

Scott’s overall mission will be to set the direction of the ForeFlight app with respect to aviation weather. This will include advancing the capabilities of the preflight weather briefing while increasing the pilot’s weather awareness in-flight.

We couldn’t be happier to have Scott on the team, and we’re excited to move the state-of-the-art forward in aviation weather.  If you have any ideas to pass along to Scott or the team, please don’t hesitate to contact us at team@foreflight.com.

Bulletin: October 16, 2014 Server Maintenance – COMPLETE

Update – this server maintenance was completed.  All systems are back online.

We will be performing upgrades on our servers during the night of Thursday, October 16, 2014 between 11:30pm CT – 1:30am CT.  Services including flight plan filing, weather retrieval, and data downloads will be intermittently available between during this period.

We will post an update to this bulletin once the upgrades have been completed.

Bulletin: Alaska High Resolution Terrain Data Update

New High Resolution Terrain downloads are available for Alaska. This update addresses an issue where terrain heights could be displayed lower than their actual values in areas north of 59 degrees latitude.

All customers who have selected Alaska High Resolution Terrain will be prompted to download this update inside of ForeFlight Mobile and should do so immediately.