New Terrain: ForeFlight 5 Lands in App Store

The latest version of ForeFlight Mobile – version 5 – is now available for download from iTunes App Store. This is our third major release of the year, and it is another big step forward. The 5 series of updates will bring a wide range of new capabilities to ForeFlight. Read on for what is inside.

New Terrain: Hazard Advisor, Terrain Map

iOS Simulator Screen shot Mar 14, 2013 4.28.44 PM

A highlight of ForeFlight 5 is Hazard Advisor, a terrain and obstacle awareness system for iPad. When you activate Hazard Advisor, it highlights hazardous terrain and obstacles within 1,000′ of your aircraft’s GPS altitude. Terrain and obstacles (“hazards”) within 100′ are colored red, and hazards within 1,000′ of your aircraft’s altitude are colored yellow. Obstacles are dynamically added to the screen as they become threats. The terrain colors change smoothly and look stunning.

This feature helps raise awareness of obstacles and terrain and will hopefully help drive CFIT accidents even lower. In areas like Houston – where 2,000′ towers pepper the landscape – Hazard Advisor is very helpful.

Getting started with Hazard Advisor:

  1. Download the high resolution terrain data from the Downloads view.
  2. Select the new “Hazard Advisor” option in the Maps selector.
  3. Accelerate to 30 kts, and Hazard Advisor activates.

A new “Terrain” map selection is now available in version 5. This is a new base map that lets you see terrain features. Low resolution and high resolution terrain databases are available for download. The high resolution terrain database enables incredible terrain views, as shown in the screenshot gallery below.

Both the Terrain map and Hazard Advisor require iPad 2 or iPhone 4 (or newer). Unfortunately, the iPad 1 (and iPhone 3GS) just do not have the horsepower to display the Terrain map or the Hazard Advisor overlay.

The new Terrain map is available to both Standard and Pro subscribers. Hazard Advisor is available to Pro subscribers only. Upgrade to Pro today on our website to unlock Hazard Advisor, document syncing, and geo-referenced FAA taxi diagrams and instrument procedures.   You can also upgrade by signing into ForeFlight Manage and tapping the “Subscription” tab.  Upgrading on our website allows us to offer you pro-rated credit for your current subscription – just make sure to enter the same email address you used when originally buying ForeFlight.


A High Quality, Void-Filled Terrain Database

Terrain databases are not made equal. The source of the terrain data is a very important consideration. Not many pilots are aware that free data sets used by some applications have holes – or “voids” – that miss important features like mountain peaks. These holes exist for a variety of technical reasons, but need correcting.

ForeFlight’s terrain database, however, is “void filled”. Appareo Systems – the makers of the popular portable Stratus ADS-B receiver – provides the terrain data in ForeFlight Mobile 5. Appareo has painstakingly corrected the terrain data to ensure that missing terrain is actually represented in the terrain data set. Here are some before and after screenshots of  filled voids.


Each area in the pictures above is a 1 degree by 1 degree square with 1200 data points. That is, the size of the voids is massive. Highlighting the magnitude of the voids is important. If the terrain database you fly with is not void filled, you are not getting the whole picture.

Runway Advisor, Traffic Pattern Advisor

Runway situational awareness is greatly improved in ForeFlight 5. New is support for Extended Runway Centerlines, which helps visualize runway layouts when approaching, making it easier to figure out how to plan a pattern entry.  Extended Runway Centerlines are available for most airports in the United States.

We took this a bit further, though, by adding intelligence that helps you both select runways and then select the runway entry pattern. Pattern entry options include straight in, 45 to the downwind, cross midfield with teardrop, and cross midfield with direct entry for both standard and right hand traffic patterns. The pattern direction defaults – left or right – are indicated. Visualizing runway entry and then runway patterns has never been easier.

Getting started with Extended Runway Centerlines:

  1. Tap the Settings button on Maps (for iPhone, go to the Settings view).
  2. Switch Extended Runway Centerlines to “On”.
  3. Plan a route between two airports and extended lines are drawn for the airports in your route.

Getting started with Traffic Pattern Advisor (this feature is only for iPad):

  1. Plan a route between two airports.
  2. Tap the “Procedure” button on the route editor.
  3. Select Traffic Pattern from the list.
  4. Select the desired runway (if winds are known, best runway is indicated) and the desired entry pattern.


Runway Winds

Adding to runway situational awareness is the new Runway Winds feature. ForeFlight Mobile 5 now graphically shows you the combined wind effects (headwind and tailwind), as well as the individual headwind and tailwind components. This makes runway selection easier than ever before.

Traffic Pattern Advisor also ties into the runway wind system, helping to identify the best runway options and the best pattern entry options. When selecting a pattern, ForeFlight 5 indicates the favored runways. Here is a shot of the new feature in action:


North Up, Track Up (Center), and Track Up (Forward)

ForeFlight 5 and its new mapping system now support both track up and north up map orientations. North up map orientation is great for flight planning and quickly assessing cardinal direction from a waypoint. Track up is great in flight and helpful for letting a pilot quickly determine what direction to turn next. Now, ForeFlight Mobile customers can choose.

ForeFlight 5’s new track-up feature is the smoothest and most powerful available. Switching between north up and track up modes is fluid and fast. As your track changes, the map turns smoothly to reflect your new course.

In addition to being able to select between track up and north up orientations, you can also choose between two track up modes: track center and track forward. In track center mode, the aircraft is positioned in the center of the screen. In track forward mode, the aircraft is positioned lower on the screen, leaving more of the world ahead in view. Among the pilots on our team, track forward is in the lead as the more popular setting.

Tap the map center (crosshair) button in the upper right hand corner of the Maps view and the map will enter track up mode if enabled or stay oriented north up. A compass needle button will appear in the upper right of the map – tap that to quickly switch between north up and track up.


ForeFlight 5 will now automatically display taxi diagrams after rollout. We are always looking for ways to reduce taps and touches in the plane, and now there is one less to do after landing.

When you approach a terminal area, the Auto-Taxi system is armed. When the aircraft’s speed then drops below 40 kts, the airport diagram is automatically loaded and displayed in the Plates view. We designed this feature to be compliant with the FAA’s draft amendment to Advisory Circular 120-76, which adds guidelines for airport moving map displays.

Plate Rotation (iPad-only)

There are many procedures that are formatted in landscape orientation. SIDS and STARS are often formatted this way. Since many of us are mounting our iPads now, we added a rotation button to the Plates view that lets you rotate the plate orientation. Orientation preferences are saved, so the next time you call up the plate, it is oriented just how you want!


World Wide Touch Planning

The latest update introduces world-wide touch planning. You can now plan everything from short hops to record-breaking, around the world flight plans that cross the poles and international date line.


Route and Feature Labels

Supporting track up requires properly oriented route and feature labels. The updated mapping engine in ForeFlight Mobile enables smooth and elegant rotation of both. A new option is available in map settings to display waypoint labels (enabled by default) that smoothly rotate when you switch between north up and track up modes, and smoothly rotate as the map turns to match your aircraft’s track. The new map labels also make it easier to see the name of the next waypoint without tapping – a nice enhancement.

Feature labels on the World base map are also more plentiful and better styled, making it easy to distinguish between things like lakes, rivers, and regions. The earth view screenshot above demonstrates the route labels in action.

Update Today!

That’s all for now. Grab the latest version from App Store (click here for instructions), the latest ForeFlight Mobile Pilot’s Guide (available in the Documents view on iPad), and get airborne!