[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.

Bulletin: December 10 Terminal Procedure and VNC Updates

Updated Terminal Procedure downloads are available for Kentucky for the December 10, 2015 – January 7, 2016 period. This update reverts the RNAV (GPS) RWY 18 and RNAV (GPS) RWY 36 approaches at I39 to previous amendments and addresses an FAA Safety Alert.

Updated Visual Navigation Charts are also available for current Canada region customers:

  • Baker Lake
  • Bathurst Inlet
  • Cumberland Peninsula
  • Foxe Basin
  • Klondike

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

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!

Getting Into The Forecaster’s Head

With ForeFlight 7.5 you’ll have the ability to peer into the minds of forecasters. Yeah, I know… scary thought! No, we haven’t developed a method for mental telepathy within the app; but, we now provide access to the forecaster’s thinking about the latest set of Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs) they recently issued. These are referred to as Area Forecast Discussions or AFDs. Let’s take a look at how these can be used in your routine flight planning.

Let’s say you are planning to fly into Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT) arriving in the early afternoon around 1800 UTC and the latest terminal forecast issued at 1140 UTC shows good visibility (P6SM) with showers in the vicinity (VCSH) and a broken ceiling at 7,000 feet (BKN070) at the time of your proposed arrival. Does this worry you even a little bit? After all, high-base rain showers in the vicinity of the airport appears to be fairly harmless even for a pilot flying VFR? Actually, this should concern you – this may just be a forecast for thunder.

CLT-Terminal-Area

The red circle annotated here on the Charlotte TAC represents the 5 statute mile radius of the Charlotte Douglas Airport (KCLT) terminal area. This is the tiny region that forecasters consider when issuing a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF).

Just because you don’t see a forecast for TS, TSRA or VCTS in a TAF, doesn’t that mean you won’t see thunderstorms arriving or departing that airport. What it could mean is that the forecaster wasn’t confident enough at the time he/she issued the forecast that a thunderstorm would develop within or roll through the region referred to as the terminal area. The terminal area is the region of airspace within a 5 statute mile radius from the center of the airport’s runway complex like the one shown above for the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT). So it is common for meteorologists to use showers in the vicinity (VCSH) or rain showers (SHRA) as a placeholder for thunder when forecaster confidence is low.

Here’s the problem

The forecaster doesn’t have an obvious way to quantify his/her uncertainty in the actual body of the coded TAF. Quantifying uncertainty is paramount when constructing any forecast (especially one for thunderstorms) and is usually done with a probabilistic approach – you know, a chance of this or a chance of that.

What about the PROB group that you may have seen in a TAF? Sure, that would work, but NWS directives state that a PROB30 group can’t appear within the first nine hours of the terminal forecast. By the way, the NWS only uses PROB30 groups; although you may see PROB40 in TAFs when flying to other countries. So back to the issue – how does a pilot know that showers in the vicinity is a placeholder for thunder in the TAF issued for Charlotte Douglas International Airport?

AFDs to the rescue

First, AFD doesn’t stand for Airport/Facility Directory as you may have thought. It’s called an Area Forecast Discussion. Second, it’s not a discussion about the aviation Area Forecast (FA) issued by meteorologists at the Aviation Weather Center. Are you thoroughly confused yet? The AFD is one of the most commonly accessed products on NWS Web sites, however, very few pilots have even heard of them. Now they are available for you to read beginning to end in the ForeFlight Mobile app!

County Warning Areas

A map of the County Warning Areas (CWAs) across the United States. There is an Area Forecast Discussion (AFD) generated for each one of these CWAs.

The AFD is a discussion that is written by the same forecasters that issue the TAFs. Every NWS local Weather Forecast Office (WFO) throughout the United States issues terminal forecasts for airports that appear within their County Warning Area (CWA), hence the term Area Forecast Discussion. After TAF issuance, meteorologists are required to update the AFD with a plain english discussion explaining their thoughts behind the forecast which allows them a plethora of ways to quantify their uncertainty. AFDs were originally designed as technical discussions to enhance collaboration among NWS forecast offices and to convey uncertainty to a specialized audience. So the language can be quite technical at times, but still highly useful to pilots. Let’s get back to your flight into Charlotte.

The GSP AFD has some clues

For example, the AFD associated with this TAF for the Charlotte Douglas Airport is written by a forecaster located at the Greenville-Spartanburg WFO (GSP) in Greer, South Carolina. Here’s the pertinent part of the discussion that morning:

AVIATION /16Z TUESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY/…

AT KCLT…LITTLE CHANGE FROM 06 UTC PACKAGE AS A WEST WIND LESS THAN 8 KTS UNDER MOSTLY CLEAR SKIES WILL CONTINUE THROUGH MID-MORNING. EXPECT INCREASING WSW WINDS WITH LOW AMPLITUDE GUST POTENTIAL BY MIDDAY AND PERHAPS PERIODS OF VFR CEILINGS THROUGH THE AFTERNOON. SCATTERED SHOWERS AND A PERHAPS A THUNDERSTORM…ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE NORTH CAROLINA PIEDMONT FROM THE AFTERNOON UNTIL EARLY EVENING AND WILL CARRY VCSH FOR NOW TO COVER THAT THREAT. DEEP CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY WILL DIMINISH BY MID-EVENING WHEN A WIND SHIFT TO NORTHWEST IS EXPECTED.

As stated in this AFD text that is highlighted above, the forecaster opted to use showers in the vicinity (VCSH) to cover the threat for thunder in the North Carolina Piedmont region where KCLT is located. Most pilots don’t realize or appreciate that showery precipitation is actually a convective process. So forecasters will often use showers as a placeholder when confidence of thunder is low. This is not to say that every forecast for showers is used in this way, but that is a common way the forecaster quantifies his/her uncertainty for convective events such as this.

For whatever reason, the forecaster wasn’t quite confident enough to impart a little meteorological risk and add thunderstorms to the Charlotte TAF. This is in part due to the relatively small size of the terminal area. If the thunderstorms in the area are anticipated to be of a scattered nature (as it was on this day), they will often omit a forecast for thunder until they are more certain thunderstorms will indeed impact the terminal area. In some situations they may use showers to hint that convection will be in the area without adding TSRA or VCTS to the forecast. As the convective weather event evolves and certainty increases, they will issue an amended forecast to add thunder. But these details are not part of the official forecast. For better or for worse, they are buried in the AFD. The AFD is the place where the forecaster can freely quantify his/her uncertainty and provide some background on why the forecast is constructed the way it is.

Moreover, meteorologists at the local weather forecast offices that issue forecasts for high impact terminal areas such as Charlotte Douglas have a fair amount of outside pressure from the airlines to avoid adding thunder to the forecast unless convection is fairly certain. A forecast for thunder at the proposed time of arrival means the airlines must file an alternate and carry extra fuel to get to that alternate.

So what actually occurred at Charlotte Douglas?

Did thunder ever affect the Charlotte terminal area? Yes, at 1813 UTC the observation (METAR) included a report for a thunderstorm at the airport as shown below.

KCLT 271813Z 07003KT 10SM TS SCT040CB BKN090 BKN200 16/09 A2956
RMK AO2 TSB13 OCNL LTGIC TS SE-SW-W MOVG E CB NW-N MOVG E

But, it wasn’t until 1739 UTC (a mere 34 minutes earlier) that the forecaster amended the TAF to include a forecast for light rain and thunder as shown below.  Some pilots might opine that the TAF issued at 1140 UTC was a bad forecast. However, given the scattered nature of the convection on this day (read uncertainty) the placeholder of showers in the vicinity was the method used to indicate the risk of thunder. The AFD was the place the forecaster documented this important piece of information.

KCLT 271739Z 2718/2818 26008G18KT 6SM -TSRA BR BKN045 OVC070CB
TEMPO 2718/2720 25010G20KT 5SM -TSRA BR SCT030 OVC050CB…

The AFD format

The raw AFD doesn’t have a rigid syntactical or semantic format that forecasters must follow. Moreover, that format may differ from one forecast office to the next. That’s both good and bad. At ForeFlight we do make an attempt to visually separate the discussion into sections with a header where it is possible. Although you may find that some WFOs do a better job than others sticking to a common format as described below; so don’t count on perfection with the AFDs.

AFD Synopsis

Most Area Forecast Discussions (AFDs) will contain a synopsis section followed by a near-, short-, and long-term discussion. Simply scroll the window down with your finger or stylus to see the rest.

Each AFD will typically start out with a SYNOPSIS section (as shown above) followed by a NEAR TERM, SHORT TERM and LONG TERM discussion. This is the accepted format for the NWS Eastern Region. In other regions you may just see one big DISCUSSION section. While not specific to aviation, these sections are important to read and often may describe the “big picture” and point out many clues and trends as to what adverse weather might occur over the next several hours or even several days. Of the most interest to pilots, every AFD will also include an AVIATION section like the one shown below. This is the section where the forecaster discusses the TAFs and aviation-specific concerns. Lastly, in some parts of the country you may find a separate section that discusses fire dangers and marine weather.

AFD Aviation

Every AFD should have an aviation section. The AFD is automatically scrolled to this section when first viewed. Also notice that key words or phrases may be highlighted in red to point out the discussion of various adverse weather elements.

While most of the sections in the AFD are word-wrapped, you may see some tabular sections like the confidence table shown below. In order to preserve the columnar format within this section, you can scroll these sections left and right with your finger or stylus (notice the horizontal scroll bar below this table).

AFD Tabular

Some sections in the Area Forecast Discussion (AFD) are tabular. In these cases, the section can be scrolled to the right to see the remaining part of the table.

Finding the AFD in ForeFlight

The AFD is available to all ForeFlight subscribers and to locate it in the app is as simple as finding a METAR or TAF. On the Map, bring up any airport-specific layer such as Flight Category and tap on the airport marker. Next, tap the Forecast tab at the bottom of the pop-over window then tap on the new Discussion button at the top to reveal the AFD for that airport’s CWA as shown below. The Discussion button will be located to the right of the MOS button.

AFD Location

The Area Forecast Discussion (AFD) is located under the Forecast tab on the station popover right next to the MOS button.

You can also view AFDs in the Airports view. With the airport of interest displayed, tap on the Weather tab, then tap on Forecast Discussion as shown below. However, be careful not to confuse this with the Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD) tab.

AFD Airports view

The Area Forecast Discussion (AFD) can be shown within the Airports view similar to the way METARs, TAFs and MOS are displayed.

The Fine Print

When tapping on the Discussion button in the pop-over window, the AFD is auto-scrolled to the Aviation section. From there you can scroll up or down to read the rest of the forecast discussion. Similarly in the Airports view, the Aviation section is also displayed first by tapping on Forecast Discussion under the Weather tab. Tapping on Forecast Discussion again, will position it to the beginning of the discussion text.

While most of the discussion is in plain english, there will be times where abbreviations and acronyms will rear their ugly head. We’ve made an honest attempt to decode most (but not all) of these within the text. Moreover, you will see some words and phrases highlighted in red. Hopefully these will grab your attention since they sometimes point out discussion that includes more extreme adverse weather.

Mind the limitations

AFDs are only available for airports within the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska). So selecting any airport within the U.S. should result in retrieving the latest AFD based on the CWA that airport is located within. Consequently, airports outside of the U.S. won’t have a Discussion button on the pop-over or under the weather tab on the Airports view. Occasionally, the latest AFD may not be available and you’ll see a “No forecast discussion” response. This is a very rare occurrence, but it may happen from time to time.

While some forecasters put a fair amount of time and detail describing their thoughts, not all AFDs will have details you might be hoping to learn. The AFD isn’t their highest priority; when the weather is busy the AFDs will often get the short end of the stick. That same forecaster may have to help with radar and issuing severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings on a busy convective day, for example.

In the end, expect the AFDs to provide a complementary product to the TAFs. If you are not reading the AFDs, you are only getting half the story.

ForeFlight Logbook, Area Forecast Discussions with 7.5

We are thrilled to deliver ForeFlight Logbook in our final release of the year. In addition, insightful Area Forecast Discussions are now built-in to airport weather views.

Simplicity, Utility, and Security with ForeFlight Logbook

Logbook is seamlessly integrated into the ForeFlight app, making it easy for pilots to manually and automatically log flights, track hours, review currency, record certificates and ratings, receive electronic instructor endorsements, and generate experience reports. In addition, your Logbook data is automatically and securely stored in the ForeFlight Cloud. ForeFlight’s servers regularly backup the logbook when changes or additions are made, delivering a new level of security and assurance for digital pilot logbook data. ForeFlight’s Sync platform seamlessly synchronizes your logbook information across all of the devices on your account.

Logbook is available as part of our new Basic Plus and Pro Plus plans or as an add-on to your existing plan, as well as an optional add-on to Business Pro multi-pilot plans. Learn more about Logbook at foreflight.com/logbook.

Get the Whole Weather Story with Area Forecast Discussions

Area Forecast Discussion in Maps viewAs Scott Dennstaedt says in his blog article on the topic, with ForeFlight 7.5 “you’ll have the ability to peer into the minds of forecasters.” Well, close. You can now access Area Forecast Discussions (AFDs) in ForeFlight.

Area Forecast Discussions are now provided for all US airports with their associated TAFs. These are issued by forecasters at the National Weather Service and provide important insights into forecast conditions, acting as a complement and explanation for recently issued TAFs.

The AFDs can be found in ForeFlight by tapping on a station in the Maps view, then tap Forecast in the pop-over. Also in the Airport view, tap the Weather tab then Forecast Discussion.

Check out Scott’s article where he walks through how AFDs can be routinely used in your flight planning. Do you know the size of the terminal area that is considered when a forecaster issues a TAF? Read Getting Into The Forecaster’s Head to find out.

New Subscription Plans Bring Added Features and Value

Coupled with the introduction of Logbook, we are also announcing 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.

The new Basic Plus plan includes everything in the current Basic plan plus Logbook and Weight & Balance for $99.99/year.

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

If you are pleased with the plan you have now, you can still purchase or renew the existing Basic and Pro plans. You can manage this by logging in to foreflight.com/manage with your ForeFlight app credentials or by using our build your own plan link on foreflight.com/pricing.

For more details about the new plans, visit foreflight.com/pricing.

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

Bulletin: December 10 Data Updates

Data updates are now available to download for the December 10, 2015 – January 7, 2016 and December 10, 2015 – February 4, 2016 periods:

  • Airport and Navigation Database
  • ForeFlight Airport Diagrams, including updates to the following airports:
07FA 2R2 4M1 71J CYCD E41
E98 KADG KAFN KAFP KAFW KAKQ
KANJ KAQX KAUH KAUO KAVL KAXX
KAZE KBEH KBFA KBKT KBLU KBRO
KBTF KBTY KBWC KBXK KBYL KCBE
KCBG KCEC KCHN KCLT KCNO KCOM
KCPM KDAW KDDH KDEH KDLO KDMA
KDVO KDYA KEBA KECU KEED KEKS
KEMV KEOE KEPM KFGX KFLO KFME
KFSK KFZG KGAS KGLW KGNG KGSP
KGUS KGZS KHAB KHIG KHLX KHMZ
KHRI KHRU KHVS KHYR KIBM KIDL
KJAQ KKNB KLHB KLKV KLUA KMFE
KMHP KMIB KMKL KMLF KMNZ KMPJ
KMPR KMSS KMZH KNQX KOGS KORE
KOUN KOYM KPEX KPHT KPIE KPLD
KPLU KPNA KPPQ KPRS KPSX KPTT
KPVG KRIR KRNP KROA KSAZ KSDF
KSEM KSHN KSJS KSNK KSUN KSZL
KTAN KTEW KTLR KTZT KUBX KUIL
KUYF KVNW KWDG KYIP MBGT MBSC
MGSJ MHLC MHSC MKKJ MKTP MMCO
MMCT MMCY MMHC MMJA MMMT MMNG
MMPA MMPN MMTB MMTG MPCE MPCH
MPEJ MPPA MPSA MPSM MRGF MRLM
MRPM MTCH MUBA MUBR MUBY MUCF
MUCL MUCM MUGT MUKW MUMO MUMZ
MUNG MUVR MYNN PAEN PASC PATK
PAUO PHHI TJVQ TLPC TVSV W75
Y72

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

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.

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.

ForeFlight Web Moves to Open Beta

ForeFlight Web is now in open Beta, meaning that anyone with an active ForeFlight subscription can access it. Just go to plan.foreflight.com and sign in using your ForeFlight username and password.

ForeFlight Web

Plan a flight or view weather and airport information all from your web browser. Routes are synced to ForeFlight Mobile on all your devices, allowing you to pick up at the airport right where you left off at home.

As a Beta program, we’re continually refining and adding new features to ForeFlight Web, and we welcome any feedback you have about how it can be improved.

Learn more at foreflight.com/web.

ForeFlight is Ready for iPad Pro

Apple shipped the new iPad Pro this week and our dev team is already logging time with it in the cockpit. So far we are impressed with its performance. We also released ForeFlight 7.4 this week which is compatible with the new hardware.

ipads

We designed the 7.4 release to take advantage of the expanded screen real estate and display more information at once, including two more instruments in the Instrument Panel and expanded sections in the Weight & Balance view. Apple’s new A9X chip also provides incredible processing speed and graphics performance, making your flight planning more immersive than ever.

Flight testing with iPad Pro

Flight testing with the iPad Pro!

If you can find room for it in your cockpit, you can view more of a chart at once, and going split-screen with Synthetic Vision still provides the same amount of chart space as an iPad Air. The Pro in landscape orientation is equivalent in screen size to two iPad Airs side-by-side! And despite the large screen, we’ve seen great battery performance out of it so far. We are looking forward to all the new possibilities on this platform.

ForeFlight Partners with Gogo on Inflight Connectivity

We are excited to announce our partnership with Gogo to make ForeFlight Mobile available to customers using Gogo’s ATG 1000 inflight connectivity system beginning in December 2015.gogo-logo

ForeFlight customers on aircraft equipped with the ATG 1000 can take advantage of the app’s full range of real-time information inflight, including up to the minute weather, Flight Notifications, NOTAMs and TFRs, as well as Cockpit Sharing – a feature pilots can use to wirelessly share route information with one another and with passengers’ iPads and iPhones.

Tyson Weihs, ForeFlight co-founder and CEO, shared: “Internet connectivity with the ATG 1000 is yet another example of our commitment to give our customers every possibility to enhance their in-flight experience with ForeFlight Mobile. In addition, many business passengers are also pilots or they may have an active interest in aviation. ForeFlight Mobile allows them to see the weather and route information that the pilots up front are seeing.”