Garmin Unveils New ForeFlight-Compatible ADS-B Transponders

ForeFlight connectivity with GTX345

Garmin announced today the release of two new options to help you meet the 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. The GTX 345 and GTX 335 all-in-one transponders are compatible with ForeFlight and, depending on the model you choose, wirelessly deliver (via Bluetooth) FIS-B weather, ADS-B traffic, GPS position, and attitude information to your mobile device.

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Garmin and to offer ForeFlight customers flying with Garmin hardware the opportunity to unlock more value from their avionics investment and gain access to connectivity options that enhance the ForeFlight experience.

Visit foreflight.com/connect to learn about all of the ForeFlight connectivity partnerships.

Filing ICAO Flight Plans in ForeFlight

With the removal of the FAA domestic flight plan format coming later this year, all pilots currently filing both VFR and IFR domestic flights will need to switch to the ICAO format.

In this article, I recommend some simple tips that make it easy for someone who currently files with the domestic format to switch to the ICAO format. My main suggestion here is that you only file what is actually needed and can affect a clearance or availability of an ATC service in the US. Essentially, this approach allows you to replicate the clearances you would receive when using the domestic format.

If you currently use ForeFlight to file flight plans using the domestic flight plan format, there are just a few simple steps to get you set up to file ICAO. The first is to set up the ICAO specific codes for your aircraft. Navigate to your aircraft’s profile in More > Aircraft and tap the blue ‘i’, and set up at least these three fields:

You need to set up the ICAO Equipment, ICAO Surveillance, and Wake Turbulence fields

  1.     ICAO equipment
  2.     ICAO Surveillance
  3.     Wake Turbulence

The Wake Turbulence is the easiest to set up because the default value of ‘L’ fits the majority of GA aircraft. You would only change this if the max gross weight of your aircraft exceeds 15,500 pounds.

Next, let’s look at equipment codes. The three most common FAA/Domestic Equipment codes are:

  • /G (GPS and mode C transponder),
  • /A (DME and Mode C transponder), and
  • /U (No DME and a Mode C transponder).

Tap ‘ICAO Equipment’ to view the list of codes. ICAO equipment codes are more specific and many types of equipment have their own code. Since almost all aircraft have VOR, localizer capability (ILS), and a VHF COM, a standard code of ‘S’ is used to specify the combination of this equipment. Pretty much every aircraft is going to select ‘S’. If for some reason your aircraft does not have one of the standard avionics systems, then you can specify the individual codes for what you do have instead of using S. For example, select ‘O’ if you have a VOR, ‘L’ if you have an ILS or localizer, and ‘V’ if you have a VHF Com radio.

Most aircraft will only need S to replicate Domestic flight plan clearances.

Other codes that are common in GA aircraft are ‘G’ for GPS, ‘D’ for DME, and ‘F’ for an ADF. Some aircraft will have a WAAS GPS and are capable of flying LPV approaches and can also specify ‘B’ for LPV. There are many codes you can specify if you have the equipment, but to keep things simple I only specify something if it makes a difference. In line with that, my advice for an aircraft that is currently filing a domestic flight plan as /G is to specify ICAO equipment codes ‘G,S’. If you currently file /U, then ICAO equipment ‘S’ is all you need. If you currently file with /A, then file ICAO equipment ‘D,S’. Feel free to add the B (LPV), D (DME), or F (ADF) if you have the equipment, but they will not make a difference in terms of your flight plan being accepted or ATC providing a service. Once you have entered the ICAO equipment codes that reflect your aircraft, tap the ‘Aircraft’ back arrow to return to the main Aircraft Profile view.

Most aircraft will only require code C, though more can be selected depending on its capabilitiesNext, tap the ICAO Surveillance code to select the transponder type. Assuming you have a transponder with an altitude encoder, you can specify ‘C’. If it is of the mode S variety, you can change that to ‘S’, but it will not make any difference in your ability to file or use the ATC system, so specifying ‘C’ is the simplest way to do it.

And that’s all you have to do to set up your Aircraft profile for ICAO filing. You can make ICAO the default flight plan format by tapping More > Settings, scrolling down to the File & Brief section, tapping ‘New Plan Format’ and selecting ICAO.

Now you can move to the Maps view to set up your route. Enter your route the same way you always have using the Route Editor. When you are done, use the ‘Send To’ File & Brief button to create and review the flight plan form. Before you hit the ‘File’ button, here are a few additional considerations when entering information about your flight using the ICAO format.

ForeFlight makes it easy to enter your flight plan information by translating it into the proper formatIn the AIM and other documents, you will read about the need to specify certain information in Field 18 – Other Information. ForeFlight automatically fills out this field for you based on flight plan and aircraft profile data. This ensures the formatting is correct for what ATC expects. Even so, there are some considerations to take into account regarding Field 18 that can ensure your flight plans are filed as efficiently as possible.

The FAA guidance on filing ICAO states that if the airport identifier is not a four character ICAO identifier, then “ZZZZ” needs to be placed in the departure and/or destination airport fields of the flight plan, and the non ICAO identifier must be specified in Field 18 preceded by “DEP/” for the departure airport and “DEST/” for the destination airport. You don’t need to worry about this with ForeFlight as it does all this for you automatically. ICAO identifiers are all 4 alphabetic characters and in the US they start with the letter K, Canada with C, the Bahamas with MY, and Mexico with MM. Examples of non-ICAO identifiers are 60J, 35A, K60J, SFO. Remember SFO is not the ICAO format for San Francisco International, KSFO is the correct code. Either SFO or KSFO will work, but if you use the three letter identifier form, then ForeFlight will place “ZZZZ” in the departure or destination field and DEP/SFO or DEST/SFO into Field 18, although you won’t see these changes in the app itself. This plan will be accepted, but it is wasteful. In other words, specify the destination and departure airport identifier as a four character ICAO value whenever you can.

ICAO flight plans provide an ability to enter primary and secondary alternate airports. In the US, only a single alternate needs to be supplied on IFR flight plans that require one.

If you use the remarks field for domestic flight plans, it will be moved to Field 18 automatically and follow the REM/ keyword. So there is no real difference in how remarks are specified, with one caveat. These special characters may not be used in ICAO remarks: the forward slash “/”, the dash “-“, and left and right parentheses “(” and “)”.

The ICAO format also allows you to add specifications for emergency equipment such as dinghies, their capacity, the color, and if they are covered. Life jackets, portable radios, type of survival equipment and any survival equipment remarks that you would wish search and rescue to be aware of. Again, the remarks can’t include the special characters “/ – ( )”.

Finally, if your flight qualifies for special handling, you can optionally specify it on the File & Brief view in the STS Special Handling field. A few that may be of interest are: FFR for firefighting, HOSP for medical flights, HUM for humanitarian flights, and SAR for search and rescue. Any special handling will be included in Field 18 and formatted as required by ICAO.

Although the final switch to ICAO filing is still months away, I recommend you try this now so you can work out any kinks and get a feel for the format. As you become more familiar with ICAO flight plans, you can refine your profile information; but in the meantime, you should have no hassle using the tips outlined here. Happy filing!

How to Comply with Part 135 Air Ambulance Obstacle Requirement Using ForeFlight

You may be familiar with some of the regulations governing how FAA Part 135 aircraft operators prepare for and conduct flights, but did you know that helicopter air ambulance operators have a number of special rules all to themselves under Part 135? One of these requires the pilot of any VFR flight to identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route (§135.615). This ensures that the pilot briefs this potential hazard and determines the minimum safe altitude for the flight.

While a good safety measure to prevent collisions, the requirement has been a pain point for some operators as the somewhat vague guidance to “identify and document” is left open to interpretation. Not to mention that some methods of complying with the requirement could take up a good chunk of a pilot’s preflight preparation time, which is at a premium with air ambulance operations.

Fortunately for air ambulance operators using ForeFlight, there is a fast and easy method of complying with the highest obstacle requirement in the app itself. This method employs ForeFlight’s Profile view (available with Pro and Pro Plus subscriptions).

Viewing obstacles along your route using Profile view

Start by entering departure and destination points in the Route Editor, then tap Profile to view the vertical cross-section of the planned route.

Terrain and obstacles are dynamically highlighted based on relative height to your selected altitude. Tap and hold anywhere in the Profile window (other than directly under the altitude box) and a vertical dotted line and box will appear showing that point’s altitude in MSL, the clearance in feet between the point and your planned altitude, and the distance of that point from your departure point. Dragging your finger right or left shows this information for any point along your route. The selected point is also displayed on the “top-down” view of your route below, revealing where the point is along your route.

Use Profile view to measure and document the highest obstacle along your route.

The profile window also allows for pinch-zooming and dragging so you can unclutter nearby obstacles. You can change the total width of the corridor shown in Profile by tapping the button at the bottom-right of the window and tapping “Corridor Width” at the bottom of the popup.

Using Profile view allows the highest obstacle along a route to be easily identified. As for “documenting” it, simply place the dotted line on the highest point and take a screenshot by pressing the iPad’s home and lock buttons at the same. The screenshot can then be accessed and shared from the iPad’s Photos app, or from a cloud storage app like Dropbox.

A number of air ambulance operators using ForeFlight have shared with us how this feature helps them comply with the highest obstacle requirement. We hope this helps you, too.

New ForeFlight Subscriptions Add Value, Basic Plan Options for Canada

Coupled with the introduction of Logbook, we announced new subscription plans for individual pilots that are designed to give you even more value from your ForeFlight experience. Logbook is an essential part of your flight bag and so we made it a standard feature in both of the new plans.ForeFlight Plans and Pricing

The new Basic Plus plan includes everything in the current Basic plan plus Logbook and Weight & Balance for $99.99 USD/year. (Basic plan options are now available for Canada!)

The new Pro Plus plan includes everything in the current Pro plan plus Logbook and Synthetic Vision for $199.99 USD/year.

If you are on an existing Basic or Pro plan, you can still renew those plans.

Should you decide to upgrade to Basic Plus or Pro Plus, you will receive a prorated credit from your existing subscription, towards the new purchase, during the checkout process.

Each plan comes with one geo-region (Canada or US). You can now add a second geo-region for $100 USD.

You can also use our Build-Your-Own-Plan tool to add Logbook or other features à la carte.

For more details about the new plans, visit foreflight.com/pricing. Or check out this helpful comparison table of all the plans: ForeFlight Plans and Pricing for Individuals (PDF).

For Business customers with multi-pilot accounts, the Business Pro plan details can be viewed here.

How To Find Valuable Planning Info in ForeFlight’s FBO Directory

As ForeFlight Directory Manager, I communicate daily with FBOs and other businesses of interest to pilots. I love to help businesses get the most out of their presence in the ForeFlight Business Directory, and to help ForeFlight subscribers know where to find that information. Here are some Pro Tips on ForeFlight Directory features that everyone can use:

Finding Fuel Prices
Fuel prices can be viewed as an interactive Map layer as well as within an FBO directory listing.

ForeFlight Directory listing on maps view.

ForeFlight Directory List view shown on the Maps view. Turn on the “Fuel: 100LL” layer and tap on a marker to view FBO details.

The price that is shown on the Fuel: 100LL layer in the Maps view and on the FBO List view (found by tapping the FBOs button in the Airport view or by tapping on a marker in the Maps view) is a summary of the lowest price options. An FBO that sells both full-service and self-serve 100LL will likely have two different prices. Tap on the business listing to reveal more information and ensure you are viewing all available 100LL fuel prices.

ForeFlight Directory detail view on Maps layer

In this example, tap directly on the ACI Jet listing to reveal more FBO details and all available retail fuel prices they offer.

We actively partner with FBOs to help them keep their listing information and fuel prices up-to-date. However, if you find the price you pay at the pump is different from our last update, you can help update the price right through the app. To submit fuel price updates, from the Airport view, tap FBOs, then tap on the FBO of choice. On the lower right corner, tap Update Fuel Prices. Enter the current price and tap Submit.

The ACI Jet detail view is shown here in the Airports view. The airport Comment and FBOs buttons are highlighted in the upper right. The Add Comment and Update Fuel Prices buttons specifically for ACI Jet are highlighted at the bottom of the listing window.

Many businesses add a custom description, tappable links to their website and social media, photos, affiliate service badges, and company logo. The Business Directory is rich with data and images to help pilots and trip planners make more informed decisions.

Sharing Your Experience With Comments
ForeFlight customers can submit two kinds of comments: feedback on the airport in general and feedback on the specific business they visited.

We hope you have a great experience to share with fellow pilots, however if there is an issue we encourage you to contact the FBO or other business directly first to resolve the situation. Comments are published unedited (with the exception of gate codes and special fuel prices) and identify you as the commenter using the part of your email address that is before the “@” sign.

Airport Comments buttonNotice there are two areas within the Airport Comments section: Remarks and Comments. Remarks are official Airport Remarks published by the airport manager or sponsor through the FAA. Comments are submitted by ForeFlight subscribers and are based on the subscriber’s personal experience at that airport.

FBOs on Taxi Charts
We have received lots of positive feedback on our FBOs on Taxi Charts feature. Fuel seller locations are mapped with an interactive marker right on the taxi chart. Tap on the FBO button in the upper left area of the taxi chart to turn the markers on and off. Tap the marker to see information about the FBO without leaving the chart view.

ForeFlight Directory listing shown on taxi chart

FBOs on Taxi Charts makes FBOs easy to find after the pilot lands. All of the Directory listing details are available right on the taxi chart view.

Questions about ForeFlight Directory? I’d love to hear from you! I’m on frequency at directory@foreflight.com.

Discontinuation of World Aeronautical Charts

Back in June the FAA announced that it will remove support for World Aeronautical Charts (WACs) over the coming year (official notice here). You won’t miss out on any coverage in this transition as complete CONUS coverage is already provided by VFR sectionals, and the FAA plans to introduce new VFR charts to cover the Caribbean before the WACs that cover it are discontinued. Printing for most of the paper charts was discontinued in September, while the two charts covering the Caribbean will cease being printed in February and March of 2016.

WACs can still be used as a valid flight planning tool until they reach the expiration date, which for most charts is either one or two years after the issue date. You can view a particular chart’s issue and expiration dates in ForeFlight beneath the chart’s name in the Downloads view.

Viewing WAC expiration dates in Downloads view

Below is a table showing the expiration date of every WAC.

Table showing expiration dates for every WAC

The first three charts will expire January 7, 2016. These are the CD-12, CC-8, and CF-16 charts, covering parts of Alaska and the Northwest. Upon expiration, these charts will no longer be available for download in ForeFlight. If you download them before the expiration date, the charts will remain accessible, but a red “Expired” banner will show in the Maps view when those charts are viewed. At that point they can be removed from ForeFlight by tapping Delete > Delete Expired in the Downloads view.

ForeFlight 7.5.1 is Available for Download

ForeFlight 7.5.1 is a minor release to address two bugs that appeared with version 7.5. One fix is for increased battery usage after updating to iOS 9.2 and the other fixes the missing Logbook icon when using the Grid (Classic) menu view on the iPhone.

We strongly encourage anyone who is already on iOS 9.2 to update ForeFlight as soon as practical.

Please let us know if you experience any issues with this release. We are on frequency at team@foreflight.com to assist!

[CAUTION UPDATE] Hold on Apple iOS 9.2

UPDATE:

We have discovered an issue related to Apple Spotlight Search and device battery usage in iOS 9.2.

Spotlight activity in iOS 9.2 may dramatically increase battery usage while you have ForeFlight open or in the background. We are actively working on a resolution to this and, in the meantime, we revise our recommendation to “hold short” on updating to iOS 9.2.

If you have already updated to iOS 9.2, you should not see any app performance issues, although we have had a few reports of the app closing due to this bug.

ORIGINAL BLOG POST:

We’ve been busy testing ForeFlight on iOS 9.2 since it was released and there are no issues to report. Feel free to upgrade when you are ready and, as always, we are on frequency at team@foreflight.com if you have any questions or experience any issues with the update.

Tips for Entering Catch-Up Entries in ForeFlight Logbook

For those of us with significant flight experience, transitioning from a paper logbook to a digital one can seem like a daunting task. We know total time is not the only stat that requires accuracy. Day, Night, and IFR currency should be considered, as well as the ability to report on aircraft category, class, and model over time periods. How about turbine time? Retract? Let’s look at a few simple steps to “catch up” in ForeFlight Logbook, allowing you to obtain accurate totals for insurance forms, potential employers, or the FAA.

ForeFlight Logbook

Step 1: Assess your flying.

Are you a career pilot? Weekend warrior? Own and operate a turbine Grumman Goose (if so let’s talk…)? What does your next year in aviation look like? Your style and frequency of flying dictates how much detail you’ll need to get out of your logbook.

Step 2: Choose a resolution.

  • Total Time Only—If you’ve only flown one plane, or even just one type, this could be all you need. You know every hour you’ve flown is in your Cessna 182 RG, so there’s no need to break down your flight time further.
  • Time by Type (make + model)—This would suffice for most pilots. Aircraft type generally implies other variables we need for currency, such as category and landing gear type.
  • Time by Aircraft ID—You may want to track hours in each specific aircraft you’ve flown. Whether for financial reasons, rental requirements, or simply reminiscence, this method provides the most detail without entering every flight.

Step 3: Choose a timeframe.

How far back will you start logging individual flights?

  • Today—Start fresh.
  • 3 or 6 Months Ago—This will cover General, Night and IFR currency (part 91).
  • 12 Months Ago—Your aviation insurance agent will ask for your time in make and model over the last 12 months, so you may want to enter each flight for the last year.
  • Other timeframe—You may fly under another authority apart from the FAA, or your employer’s record-keeping requirements may come into play here.

With these decisions made, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane. Sit down with your logbook, calculator, and a notepad. Create a new ForeFlight Logbook entry for each grouping. For example, one each for C172, P28R, and BE58. While you’re at it, take time to remember all the adventures in your flying career, knowing that your history will be stored safely in the ForeFlight cloud for you to access anywhere, anytime.

ForeFlight Web Logbook import tool

Login to plan.foreflight.com and tap on the Logbook tab to download the ForeFlight import template.

If you already have your own spreadsheet, you can use our web import tool on ForeFlight Web. Log in to plan.foreflight.com with your ForeFlight app credentials, click the Logbook tab, and then drag/drop your file into the box. You can also download our spreadsheet template if you are starting from scratch.

If you need help creating a spreadsheet from your paper logbook, check out convertmylogbook.com.

Finally, if you have any questions during your transition to ForeFlight Logbook, email us at team@foreflight.com —we’re happy to help!

New Firmware Update Available for Stratus 2 Devices

Appareo recently released a new firmware update for Stratus 2 devices, adding some features that were first introduced with the Stratus 2S. To update your Stratus 2:

  1. Connect to the Stratus Wi-Fi network.
  2. Navigate to More > Devices > Stratus inside ForeFlight.
  3. Tap the “Tap to Update” button next to the current firmware version.

This update adds a new item to the Settings section of the Devices > Stratus view: Wi-Fi Settings. Tap on the item to see the new settings.

Photo Dec 01, 3 59 07 PM

Disabling SSID Broadcast hides your network’s name from devices trying to connect to it, so the only way someone can access the network is if they already know its name. Another new setting is the option to enable WPA2 Security, which allows you to set a passcode on the network.

These settings make it harder for someone else to access your Stratus’ Wi-Fi network, though most pilots will probably not need this level of security. If you set a passcode but then forget it, you can perform a factory reset of the device by holding down the power button for 30 seconds. This will return the Wi-Fi Settings to their default states. Be warned, however, that a factory reset will also delete any Stratus logs saved on the device.