New Chart Color Inversion, Logbook and Weather Enhancements in ForeFlight 8.3

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We are thrilled to introduce an innovative feature that we know you’ve been asking for – you can now invert colors on charts and documents for better viewing at night. On the weather front, we have a new Color IR Satellite layer, and, for SiriusXM SXAR1 customers, Cloud Tops and Echo Tops are now included in your SiriusXM Pilot for ForeFlight plan. Also, we hope you have fun with sharing your flights online using our new Logbook Entry Summary. Read on for all the details of the ForeFlight 8.3 release, now on the App Store!

Protect Your Night Vision with Color Inversion for Charts and Documents

Color inversion reduces the glare of bright charts and documents when viewing them at night by inverting white and black elements on IFR Enroute charts, VFR Sectionals, procedure plates, airport diagrams, and documents. Text and chart symbols are prominent and legible without the annoying glare while viewing them in a dark cabin, minimizing eye strain and fatigue.

White and black elements are inverted, turning the predominantly white background black, and the black icons and text white. All other colors stay the same – airspace frequencies and altitudes, MOA boundaries, and Class B airspace all retain their usual coloring, making them just as easy to identify as before.

When used in conjunction with ForeFlight’s “dark” map theme and the brightness slider, color inversion provides more options than ever for creating an ideal chart solution for night flying. The setting applies independently to each app view, so you can mix and match where you see or don’t see inverted colors.

If you have a Pro Plus subscription, the Plates on Maps feature slightly brightens the plate so it stands out against an inverted IFR chart. Toggle color inversion on and off in the Map Settings menu.

Share Your Favorite Flights with Logbook Entry Summary

First solo cross-country? Animal rescue mission? With our new Logbook Entry Summary feature, you can turn memorable Logbook entries into an interactive, visual scrapbook that you can easily share with friends and family. Create your flight entry as you normally would (be sure to include photos!) and then tap on View Entry Summary. ForeFlight creates an elegantly styled web page, complete with photos, flight details, and a map view of your route. When viewed on a desktop browser, the map becomes interactive, allowing you to zoom in to see the route in more detail or use the layer selector to overlay different map themes. Back in the flight entry, tap on the Send To button (upper right) to generate a link you can share via social media, email, or as a URL.

Share your Logbook Entry Summaries with friends, family, and fellow pilots to keep them up to speed on your most recent flying adventures.

Logbook Enhancements: More Ways to Streamline Data Entry and New Type Currency Tracking

We continue to streamline flight logging to save you time and taps. It is now easier to lookup and select airport approaches. In your flight entry, tap on Add Approach. You’ll see the destination airport field is already populated, and, if you tap on Autofill Approach, you can easily select from the list of approaches for that airport. When you choose an approach, the Type and Runway fields are automatically filled in. In addition, when selecting the aircraft for a flight entry, a helpful Aircraft list displays your three most recently logged aircraft first.

Do you have multiple type ratings to track? You can now add them to your Logbook Currency Tracking for better visibility into your flight status. Tap on Add Currency Summary then Aircraft Type Currency to choose between General and Night currency (or both) then select your aircraft from the list. The list includes all of the aircraft that you’ve added to your Logbook. You can also set up a multi-model type rating currency tracker by selecting multiple aircraft from the list.

If you add a new aircraft, Logbook automatically notifies you if there are any missing aircraft profile details, ensuring complete and accurate tracking. Currencies are color-coded, so you’ll know your status at a glance.

Learn more about ForeFlight Logbook at foreflight.com/logbook.

ForeFlight is Your SIC with Helpful Destination Weather Frequency Callout

Checking the weather report at your destination airport is an important step in your landing checklist. Like a good co-pilot, ForeFlight anticipates your needs and automatically displays the weather frequency approximately 20 nautical miles from your destination airport. In the More > Settings > Alerts view, you can set the Destination WX Frequency Alert to be an audio alert, visual alert, or both. The popup stays active on the screen until you tap on it, so you can still easily get the frequency if you happen to miss the callout in your headset.

Topping Off the Weather with New SiriusXM Satellite Layers

ForeFlight pilots flying with the SiriusXM SXAR1 Aviation Receiver can now view both Cloud Tops and Echo Tops as part of the SiriusXM Pilot for ForeFlight subscription. If you have been considering a portable satellite weather solution, check out the SXAR1. You can purchase from Sporty’s or SiriusXM and take advantage of limited-time special pricing and rebates.

To learn more about how to interpret Cloud Tops and Echo Tops and also best practice on using the altitude slider, check out this article from Scott Dennstaedt (ForeFlight’s Weather Scientist).

New Full-Color Infrared Satellite Layer Gives You Better Awareness of Icing Conditions

The new Color IR Satellite layer is an alternative to the existing satellite layer (now called Enhanced Satellite) and is useful for identifying dangerous regions of supercooled liquid water that can cause airframe icing. This danger is especially present in the yellow and green depicted areas, which are just warm enough to support large amounts of supercooled water – turn on the PIREPs layer and you’ll notice that most icing PIREPs occur in these areas. This new layer is a powerful tool to add to your preflight planning, especially during the late fall, winter, and early spring seasons to help you avoid dangerous weather and icing conditions.

To dive deeper into the Color IR Satellite layer, check out this article written by our in-house Weather Scientist, Scott Dennstaedt.

New Climb Gradient Instrument
ForeFlight Climb Gradient Instrument

ForeFlight’s Climb Gradient Instrument uses GPS, ground speed, and vertical speed information to display your climb gradient in feet per nautical mile, allowing you to monitor your climb performance in real time. Activate this new instrument by tapping on the Instrument Panel and selecting Climb Gradient from the list.

Apple iOS 10.2.1 and ForeFlight

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UPDATE January 30, 2017: Compatibility testing between ForeFlight Mobile and iOS 10.2.1 is complete and we are issuing the “all-clear” to ForeFlight customers. Feel free to upgrade at your convenience.

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ORIGINAL POST January 23, 2017: We are performing compatibility testing between ForeFlight and the newly released iOS 10.2.1 to ensure that everything is working smoothly. We will update this post with an “all-clear” when testing is completed. Please also stay tuned to our Facebook page or Twitter feed for updates.

ForeFlight Tops it Off with Two New SiriusXM Weather Layers

If you surveyed a group of IFR pilots, tops are likely one of the most requested features. Now, the wait is over. With ForeFlight Mobile 8.3, you can view both echo tops and cloud tops when connected to the SXAR1 SiriusXM satellite receiver. These two sought-after weather products are now included with the current ForeFlight Mobile SiriusXM pricing tier at no extra cost.

tops-selections

You can find the echo tops and cloud tops selections in between the radar and satellite layers in the ForeFlight Mobile app.

Cloud top height

First and foremost, the cloud tops depiction from SiriusXM is not a satellite image per se. Instead it depicts the height of the cloud tops in reference to mean sea level (MSL). Second, the cloud tops overlay does not infer the depth of the cloud layer. Consequently, a high overcast cirrus deck at 30,000 feet may mask one or more cloud layers below. Third, not all cloud layers may be shown, especially when there are regions of low-topped stratus or scattered to broken fields of fair weather cumulus clouds. So it’s important to always overlay the sky coverage markers to augment the cloud tops layer.

lowstratus-tops

Here’s a common limitation during a low-topped stratus event. Notice that the sky coverage markers around Houston, Texas indicate the presence of overcast skies, however,  the cloud tops layer shows the sky as clear. 

The cloud tops layer is always valid in the recent past since it’s based on observed data. It is typically updated with a new image once or twice an hour. Tops above 25,000 ft MSL are color-coded using blue, orange and red to visually enhance the highest tops. Tops below 25,000 ft are shown as simple shades of gray.

echo-tops-layer

The echo tops layer (left) may appear to look like a radar depiction (right) from a color perspective, However, it has a much lower spatial resolution than the composite or lowest tilt radar mosaic.

Echo top height

Like cloud tops, echo tops depict a height above mean sea level so it’s not a radar depiction per se. Simply put, echo top height is based on the highest elevation angles at which greater than 18 dBZ reflectivities are detected. Keep in mind that echo tops are primarily used by meteorologists to identify more significant storms by locating the highest tops. So it’s important know that echo tops are not the same as cloud tops. The actual top of the cloud is always higher than the echo top.

echotops

In this vertical cross-section of a thunderstorm, reflectivity is shown using colors similar to what you would see on a NEXRAD mosaic. Dark blue represents a reflectivity of 15-20 dBZ. So, the echo tops are likely found near the top of the dark blue regions on this image.

Filtering by altitude

On the ForeFlight Map view, both the echo tops and cloud tops can be filtered by altitude. When selecting either one of these layers, an altitude selector similar to the one that appears with the winds aloft layer is shown. This provides a quick way to determine tops that are above a selected MSL altitude. Initially, the altitude selector will be positioned at the lowest setting, namely, 0 feet MSL. This is the selection that will show all cloud or echo tops. Setting the cloud tops altitude selector to 10,000 feet, for example, will remove any clouds with tops below this altitude leaving only clouds with tops above 10,000 feet. Therefore regions without tops data are regions without clouds or tops that are below the selected altitude.

cloud-tops-filter

The altitude selector allows you to filter all of the cloud tops (or echo tops) below a specific altitude. In this example, all cloud tops below FL300 are removed leaving only those tops above that altitude. For convective tops, it’s also a good idea to overlay the lightning layer.

Echo top clutter

Echo tops received through SiriusXM do not go through a rigorous filter like you may see with the two radar layers. Therefore, it is normal to see echo top clutter around and near the various NWS radar sites as shown below. Typically these are not associated with real areas of precipitation and often occur during fair weather. Simply moving the altitude selector up to the next rung at 5,000 feet will remove many of these annoying areas of clutter.

clutter

Echo tops clutter showing tops below 5,000 feet will often occur around the various NWS radar sites. Here you can see clutter around the NEXRAD sites at Charleston, W. Va., Sterling, Va., Dover, De., and Mount Holly, N.J.

True Colors of IR Satellite

Now in ForeFlight Mobile 8.3, you have a choice between one of two satellite layers on the ForeFlight Map view. The legacy satellite layer was renamed to Enhanced Satellite and the new layer is appropriately named Color IR Satellite. For many, the new satellite layer will look quite familiar. That’s because it was created to generally match the infrared (IR) satellite images located within the ForeFlight Imagery view. Or you may have seen similar color images on aviationweather.gov. While there are some differences, this color IR satellite layer has a rather high glance value to depict the locations of significant adverse weather and help to locate the height of the cloud tops.

satellite-selection

The older satellite layer was renamed to Enhanced Satellite with the new layer now called Color IR Satellite.

Why another satellite layer?

Back in November 2014, you may recall that we added color to the global satellite layer. Color was added to enhance or highlight the highest cloud tops that are typically associated with significant large synoptic-scale weather systems and deep, moist convection or thunderstorms. This is especially critical when flying in regions where ground-based radar data is sparse or nonexistent. The new satellite layer takes this a step further by colorizing the entire satellite layer based on a discrete cloud top temperature (in degrees Celsius).

color-satellite-layer

The Color IR Satellite layer should be viewed along with the sky coverage markers. You will notice that many pilot weather reports of icing tend to occur in regions of yellow, green and very light blue.

As I discussed in this earlier blog post high clouds are very cold and emit less infrared radiation than warmer clouds near Earth’s surface. Satellite sensors measure this radiation and meteorologists calibrate this to appropriate temperatures. Knowing the cloud top temperature can help us determine the relative height of the cloud tops and more importantly it can help us understand when supercooled liquid water may dominate the clouds creating a nasty icing threat.

Cloud tops and icing

In this new color satellite image, purple and darker shades of blue are indicative of tops at high altitudes. At the other end of the spectrum, shades of red and orange are indicative of shallow clouds with tops near the earth’s surface.

color-scale-ir

Colors such as dark blue and purple on the left side of this scale (in degrees Celsius) represent the coldest (highest) cloud tops whereas colors on the right side of the scale represent the warmest (lowest) cloud tops.

To use the layer to determine the cloud top height over a particular region, zoom in on the area of concern in the Map view and note the temperature using the color scale above. Next, find the MSL altitude that corresponds to that temperature by referencing the local temperature aloft in that region. That gives you the cloud top height. For example, assume you were departing out of Garden City Regional Airport (KGCK) and wanted to know the height of the tops. Zooming in as shown below provides an orange color representing a temperature of approximately 0 degrees Celsius.

color-height-example

The color IR satellite when zoomed in over Garden City shows mostly orange in this area. This corresponds to a temperature of roughly 0 degrees Celsius.

Using the winds/temperatures aloft provided in the Garden City popover, find the altitude that corresponds to that temperature. Perhaps a more accurate approach is to use a tool called a Skew-T log (p) diagram like the one pictured below. Starting from the surface, work your way up the red environmental temperature line and find the first altitude that corresponds to a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius. In this case, that corresponds to an altitude of 4,285 feet as shown on the left. Additionally, the diagram confirms that saturated conditions occur below this altitude representing the presence of clouds with unsaturated conditions above. This kind of analysis will provide the necessary confidence that a climb to 5,000 feet MSL will get you on top of this cloud deck.

skew-t

A Skew-T log (p) diagram like the one shown here for the Garden City Municipal Airport is an excellent tool to help locate the cloud top height. This depicts a forecast model representation of temperature (red line) and dewpoint temperature (blue line) as a function of height.

The more important colors are perhaps shades of yellow and green and maybe even very light blue. Using the color scale below, clouds with fairly warm subfreezing cloud top temperatures are likely to be dominated by supercooled liquid water and represent a airframe icing threat.

icing-potential

The pale green, yellow and very light blue indicate regions where cloud top temperatures are in the  regime where the clouds below are dominated by supercooled liquid water representing an airframe icing hazard.

Don’t become complacent; clouds with colder (higher) tops can and do contain supercooled liquid water and may pack the threat of supercooled large drop (SLD) icing especially within deep, moist convection. However, these colder-topped clouds of darker shades of blue will normally be dominated by ice crystals or more likely be a mixed phase cloud (containing both ice crystals and supercooled liquid water). However, once ice nuclei begin to activate and ice crystals start to form in the cloud, the cloud tends to grow bigger ice crystals at the expense of supercooled liquid water which lessens the icing threat.

Masking out clear skies

As mentioned above, this layer is a close cousin of the static color IR satellite images found in the ForeFlight Imagery view. The static images show not only the temperature of the cloud tops using the same colors, but also the temperature of the surface of the earth. This can make it difficult to know where clouds exist and where the sky is clear. The main improvement is that the new satellite layer attempts to mask out regions where the sky is clear showing the map background in those regions instead of the surface temperature.

clear-vs-cloudy

Clear regions are masked out to show the underlying map below.

While this masking algorithm works a majority of the time, it can be difficult to get it right every single time simply using temperature alone. For example, anytime there’s a shallow low-topped stratus deck like the one shown below, the tops of the clouds may actually be slightly warmer than the surface of the earth courtesy of a surface-based temperature inversion. So the algorithm may have a difficult time discerning where it is cloudy or clear. So it’s important to always overlay the sky coverage markers to pick up on these issues when they occur.

bad-mask

For some low-topped stratus events, it’s not unusual for the masking algorithm to show clear skies as it did here in the Midwest. The best way to detect this condition is to overlay the cloud coverage markers or during daylight hours check the Enhanced Satellite which operates in the visible spectrum during this time.

So during the late fall, winter and early spring, give this new satellite layer a quick glance. It’ll provide you with a method to determine the tops of most clouds and to reveal where there’s a definite risk of airframe ice.

Bulletin: February 2 Data Updates

Data updates are now available to download for the February 2, 2017 – March 2, 2017 period:

  • Airport and Navigation Database
  • Documents
  • VFR Charts and Terminal Area Charts
  • Taxi Diagrams
  • Terminal Procedures
  • Airport/Facility Diagrams
  • ForeFlight Airport Diagrams, including new diagrams and updates for the following airports:
00C 0J4 11A 17J 1U7 2F5
2J5 3A2 3M8 3U8 4J5 4R7
4T2 4V0 68IS 6S0 74V 84R
87I 97FL 9NM9 C56 CAP3 CEA3
CEQ3 CEX3 CSB3 CSC3 CSR3 CSU3
EDNY EFHV EGBO EGBS EGBW EGCW
ETAR FYWH K02 K07 K09 K33
K34 K38 K52 K57 K59 K61
K62 K74 K78 K82 K89 KADC
KADT KAUW KAVC KAVK KBCB KBDH
KBDU KBFE KBGE KBMT KBUB KCGS
KCGZ KCHS KCIU KCMD KCMY KCNY
KCQB KCXE KECS KEMT KFBY KMLI
KSYF KSYR KSZP KTAD KTBN KTGC
KTGI KTHV KTKX KTMB KTOC KTPF
KTPH KTPL KTRL KTYQ LEMD M01
M02 M04 M79 ORBI ORER TJPS
TKPK TLPL TTCP

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

  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Terminal Procedures
  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Airport Diagrams
  • EEA High Enroutes, Area Charts
  • ENAME 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
  • Airport/Facility Directory

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

ForeFlight 8.2.3 Now Available on the App Store

ForeFlight version 8.2.3 corrects an issue with tail number checking that blocked filing with aircraft profiles set up using call signs rather than N-numbers. As always, we’re on frequency at team@foreflight.com if you experience any issues with the update.

ForeFlight 8.2 includes more data for Aeronautical Maps, new in-flight alerts that keep you aware on the ground and in the air, Logbook enhancements with improved currency tracking, Garmin Flight Stream 510 connectivity, and more. Click here to explore all the new features in 8.2.

Bulletin: January 10 Data Updates

A new Airport and Nav Database (Jan 10 Update) is now available to download for the January 5, 2017 – February 2, 2016 period. This update corrects the name of the MCOY1 departure at Orlando International Airport (KMCO). It also corrects the Class B airspace around KMCO and some Canadian airspaces on the Aeronautical Maps.

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

How To Export User Waypoints From ForeFlight

Did you know that you can export your user waypoints from ForeFlight and share them with others? When viewing your user waypoints in More > User Waypoints, tap the Send To button in the list’s footer and tap Mail. This action creates an email and automatically attaches a .kml file containing your waypoints. You can also email it to yourself to keep as a backup or to import the file into third-party apps and software.

You’ll need to have an email account set up using Apple Mail on your device for the Mail option to appear. To do this, open the iOS Settings app, go to Mail > Accounts, and follow the prompts.

Export User Waypoints from ForeFlight

Tap the Send To button to create an email with a .kml file attached.

If you receive an email with another pilot’s user waypoints, you can easily import them into ForeFlight directly from the Apple Mail app. Just tap-hold on the attached file (named “user-waypoints.kml”) and tap “Copy to ForeFlight” in the popup. Doing this will open ForeFlight and automatically import the user waypoints. You can also bulk import user waypoints into ForeFlight using iTunes, and we have instructions on how to do that here.

Tap-hold on the attachment to load the waypoints into ForeFlight

Tap-hold on the attachment to load the waypoints into ForeFlight.

ForeFlight 8.2.2 Now Available on the App Store

ForeFlight version 8.2.2 corrects an issue where Logbook entries appear duplicated in the entries list after viewing them. We’re on frequency at team@foreflight.com if you experience any issues with the update.

ForeFlight 8.2 includes more data for Aeronautical Maps, new in-flight alerts that keep you aware on the ground and in the air, Logbook enhancements with improved currency tracking, Garmin Flight Stream 510 connectivity, and more. Click here to explore all the new features in 8.2.

In case you missed it, we have a couple of new quick tip videos:

Bulletin: January 5th Data Updates

Data updates are now available to download for the January 5, 2017 – February 2, 2016 and January 5, 2017 – March 2, 2017 periods:

  • Airport and Navigation Database
  • ForeFlight Airport Diagrams, including updates to the following airports:
09LA 14A 18AZ 1OR3 2G2 2H2
2V5 3MY 3O8 4LA4 7FL6 C09
CEN4 CYED CYFB CYQI CYTZ E98
EBBR EBFS EDDV EFHK EKST ETAD
ETAR ETIC ETIK ETOU F70 FD04
FD38 KAPF KAPS KAUS KAVX KAXA
KAXN KBDQ KBFL KBHC KBHM KBIX
KBKV KBLV KBMT KBPT KBVU KBYI
KBZN KCCB KCCR KCDC KCGF KCSB
KEFD KEFT KEGE KEGI KEHO KEIK
KEKA KEKM KEKY KELN KGPC KGRR
KMEV KMSN KMSP KPVG KTTA KTZR
KTZT KUCY KUIN KUNO KUNU KUXL
KVAY KVBW KVCB KVCT KVDI KVES
KVGC KVKS KVKX KVLD KVLL KVPS
KVRB KWBW KWDG KWHP KWJF KWLW
KWMC KWRB KWRL KWVL KWWR KXMR
KXNA KXVG KYIP KYKM KZEF KZPH
L35 LGAV LGIR MBGT MBPV MGMM
MHRO MKJS MMCB MMCE MMCG MMDA
MMGR MMIT MMLC MMPP MMSM MMTN
MMTU MMZC MYGF MYNN SBGL T56
U77 UWLW W95 W96 X01

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 Canada region 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
  • Airport/Facility Directory

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