Traffic, Track Vector, and Plate Swiping Now Available

The fourth major update of the year – ForeFlight Mobile 5.1 – is now available for download from App Store. This release brings three new features:

  • Traffic: a new Traffic map layer that displays ADS-B traffic from both the Stratus 1 and Stratus 2 portable ADS-B In receivers.
  • Plate swiping: an enhancement to plate viewing enables swiping between procedures using a three finger swipe gesture.
  • Track vector: a new setting on Maps view enables display of an own-ship track vector – or “rail” – which shows where your aircraft is heading.

Traffic

ForeFlight Mobile 5.1 includes a new Traffic layer in the Maps view selector that enables display of  traffic targets on the map. Traffic targets only appear if ForeFlight Mobile is connected to either a Stratus 1 or Stratus 2 portable ADS-B weather and traffic receiver. The traffic map layer option is only available when you are connected to a Stratus receiver.

Traffic targets are displayed as diamonds when direction information is not available and as chevrons when direction information is available. Tail number, vertical direction, relative altitude, and the TrafficTrend™ “rail” are displayed when the appropriate bits of information are available. If direction and speed information for the traffic target are available, the rail – a line that varies in length depending upon the target’s speed – is drawn from the target’s last known position to the point the target is expected to cross in 60 seconds.

Here are some recent screenshots of the Traffic feature in action:

This release of ForeFlight Mobile includes a firmware update for Stratus 1 owners.  That update will enable traffic display for the original Stratus.  Watch this video to learn about the firmware update process.

It is important to emphasize that if you do not have ADS-B Out installed in the aircraft you fly, ADS-B In receivers (like Stratus) do not provide a robust traffic solution. Aircraft not equipped with ADS-B Out will rarely, if ever, see threatening traffic. You may see traffic far off in the distance, but that is basically of entertainment value only.  If you are outside the ADS-B coverage area, the amount of traffic shown will be further diminished. If you are looking for a practical traffic solution, install certified ADS-B Out equipment or a separate active traffic solution like the Avidyne TAS-600.  Never use data from ForeFlight Mobile for traffic avoidance, use See & Avoid or direct instructions from ATC to avoid traffic.

In real terms, ADS-B Out solutions are still pricey. While exploring upgrade options for ForeFlight aircraft, we received quotes for systems ranging from $5,000 to $12,000. Factors that drive the price include the antenna installation – a system with antenna diversity will require more wire-up – and whether you have to add a WAAS GPS source, which is an ADS-B Out requirement. We think many light aircraft owners will defer ADS-B Out installations until prices and complexity come down.

Plate Swiping

hand illustration by GestureWorksForeFlight Mobile 5.1 adds a feature to the Plates viewer that enables switching between procedures using a three-finger swipe gesture. This new feature is intelligent enough to know whether you are swiping between plates in a binder you created or whether you are accessing procedures from an airport and want to quickly browse the available arrivals, departures, or approach plates.

We use a three-finger gesture for two reasons. Firstly, some procedures are multiple pages and a single finger swipe left or right is used to move between pages within a procedure. Secondly, we want to minimize the chance of accidentally switching to another approach plate during a critical phase of flight. A three finger gesture is less prone to an unintended brush of a hand or finger.

Own-ship Track Vector

When enabled, the new Track Vector feature will draw a line – the “rail” – from your aircraft’s current position to a location ahead of the aircraft. The length of the Track Vector rail is configurable. Activate the Track Vector from the Settings button on the maps view (the button on the top menu bar that looks like a gear).

The Track Vector length is set via the apps main settings view, accessed by tapping More, then Settings, then scrolling to the Maps settings group. You can choose from a range of distance or time based options for the length of the Track Vector rail.

Track Vector

New HUD Instruments

There are there are three new instruments in the Heads Up Display at the bottom of the Maps view:5.1instruments
  1. Rate of Turn
  2. Vertical Speed
  3. Closest airport in flight plan (cardinal position for reporting)
For ForeFlight Pro subscribers, these instruments are also available on geo-referenced approach plates and taxi diagrams.

Combined Procedures

With this week’s data update, we improved the way we display multi-page departures, arrivals, and approaches in the Airports and Plates views.  Instead of multiple procedures named “CONT.1″ “CONT.2″, they are now combined into one procedure so you can swipe between pages.  If you had a “CONT.1″ procedures in your Plates binder, you will need to remove it and add the main procedure to your binder.  This will take effect on Thurs May 2, 2013.

How to Update

This is a free update for all existing ForeFlight Mobile subscribers.  Click here for instructions on updating via App Store .  This update also includes important bug fixes, and we recommend all customers update.

Enjoy!