Since launching late last year Dispatch has already gained numerous new features and workflow improvements to help flight departments plan, collaborate, and monitor flights more efficiently. From flight attachments and more prominent weather information to flexible crew assignments, change tracking, and more, every week brings significant enhancements, and we’re not planning to slow down any time soon. Read on to learn about each new and improved feature and how they can benefit your operation.
Attach Flight Documents from Dispatch
Building on the introduction of the Files in Flights capability to ForeFlight late last year, flight planners can now attach documents to flights right from Dispatch and deliver them to assigned crew members in seconds. Attach PDFs, images, Microsoft Word documents, and many other file types to make them accessible right in ForeFlight for viewing and printing before the flight.
Click the Files tab at the top of a flight in Dispatch and click the plus button to browse for files to add, or simply drag and drop files from your computer’s file explorer to upload them to the flight. Dispatch supports uploading files of 25MB or less using any of the following file types: pdf, tiff, tif, jpg, jpeg, gif, png, bmp, bmpf, doc, docx, xlsx, pptx, ppt, csv.
Information about uploaded documents appears below the upload button, including each document’s name, date created, date last updated, and the type of the file (e.g. pdf, csv, etc.). You can rename attached files by clicking the pencil button to the right of each file’s name, which will also update the file’s name in ForeFlight Mobile. Click Download on the right to download the file to your computer (helpful if the file was uploaded by someone else), and click Delete to permanently remove the file from the flight.
Any file that you upload to a flight will appear in the Files tab on ForeFlight’s Flights view for any crew members assigned to the flight (excluding ad-hoc crew members who are not part of your ForeFlight account – read more about ad-hoc crew members below). A red dot appears on the Files tab when new documents are added. Crew members can view the documents and share or print them.
By-Leg Altitude Changes in Route Builder
Dispatch’s Route Builder now supports changes in cruise altitude between different legs of a flight, allowing you to take advantage of more favorable winds, comply with airspace restrictions, and more. After selecting a route on the Flight Edit page, click the Route Builder button to view the list of waypoints on the left.
Every waypoint that isn’t part of a procedure (departure, arrival, or approach) has an Edit button to its right that you can use to change the flight’s altitude at that waypoint. Set the new altitude on the left using the up/down arrow buttons or by typing in a new altitude, expressed as a flight level.
The dropdown menu to the right lets you select how the new altitude will be applied to the flight: “Until waypoint” applies the new altitude to every editable waypoint up to and including the current waypoint without changing the altitudes of subsequent waypoint, while “After waypoint” applies the new altitude to every waypoint including and after the current one, leaving previous waypoints the same. Click the check button to confirm the changes and apply the new altitude, or click the cancel button to discard any altitude changes for that waypoint.
Waypoints that are part of the flight’s climb or descent won’t update their altitudes to match new altitudes for cruise waypoints, but they will update to reflect a new climb or descent profile as required by changes to the flight’s cruise altitude.
Click back to the Flight Edit page and the new altitude changes are listed beneath the Selected Route field. The altitude changes are also reflected in ForeFlight’s Briefing and Navlog, ensuring that the flight’s crew members can view them once the flight is released.
More Prominent Airport Weather Information
To help flight planners quickly assess current and forecast weather that could impact a flight, Dispatch now provides important weather information in multiple easy-to-access places.
On the main Flights List, click on the airport identifier in either the Departure or Destination column to view a new popup showing the airport’s latest METAR, TAF, and NOTAMs sorted in reverse-chronological order. Click the button at the bottom of this popup to bring you to the Dispatch Airport Information page for comprehensive information about each airport. Also on the Flights List, any airport with low IFR conditions expected at the time of your flight (based on a METAR or TAF) will show a purple LIFR label next to the airport identifier to warn flight planners of these conditions.
In the Flight Edit view, the METAR/TAF/NOTAM popup is also now available when you click the Info button next to any airport in your route. Lastly, searching for an airport using any of the Airport fields now shows more information about each airport in the list, including the flight category from the most recent METAR, the latest wind and visibility reports, and the length of the longest runway.
Winds Aloft Map Layer
Dispatch’s built-in map now includes a global Winds Aloft forecast layer that you can use to quickly find favorable winds at different altitudes. Enable the layer by clicking the Layer button in the top-left of Dispatch’s map and selecting Winds Aloft at the top of the right-hand column. Just like the Winds Aloft layer in ForeFlight Mobile, global wind patterns are depicted using directional wind barbs that have a variable number of “legs” and different colors to indicate wind speed. Use the Altitude Slider on the right to view winds at different altitudes in intervals of 3,000 feet. Changing your flight’s planned altitude will cause the slider to automatically move to whichever altitude setting is closest to it.
Unlike the mobile app, the Winds Aloft layer in Dispatch also provides a Time Slider to view wind forecasts for multiple time periods, up to more than 6 days in the future. Click the Play button on the right of the slider to animate the layer, showing how the winds change with each forecast period.
Flight planners who always use the same route for a given airport pair can now load such routes more quickly using Saved Routes. Click the floppy disk button (we love a good throwback) on the right side of the Selected Route field to save the currently-entered route. The next time you plan a flight with the same departure and destination airports, that route will appear in the Routes List under a “Saved Routes” header.
Account administrators can view and delete any saved routes on the account in the Saved Routes tab of the Dispatch Settings menu.
Flight Change Tracking
Dispatch will track the history of changes made to each flight and by whom, giving account administrators greater oversight of flight plans in the system. The “Last Change” status at the bottom of the Flight Edit view shows which user made the last change to the flight. Click “(view history)” to see every major action made to the flight since it was created: the type of action is shown under the Event column (e.g. Created, Modified, Released, Filed, etc.), the user or system that initiated the action is shown under the By column (e.g. Scheduling, Dispatch user, Auto-compute), the user’s email address is shown to the right for each action made by a user, and the date/time of each action is shown in the rightmost column. Click the top of the Event or Time columns to reorder the list based on those columns.
Assign Ad-Hoc Crew Members to Flights
Dispatch now has the ability to send email notifications to flight team members who are not included in your ForeFlight account. Provide flight details and updates to contract pilots, ground handlers, cabin attendants, or anyone else who needs to be notified simply by entering their email address in one of the Crew fields. This will add them to the flight as an “ad-hoc” pilot, and upon releasing or updating the flight they will receive the same notification email sent to pilots on your account, which includes a link to view the flight’s briefing.
Unlike pilots on your account, ad-hoc pilots cannot access flights to which they are added using ForeFlight, even if they have an active ForeFlight subscription.
Auto-Refresh Flight Plans & Briefings
To ensure that crew members can access the most up-to-date information about their assigned flights, Dispatch can now automatically refresh a flight’s briefing and performance calculations after it’s been released. Enable the Auto-Refresh option in Dispatch’s Briefing Settings list to turn on Auto-Refresh for flights. Once enabled, this feature will refresh a flight’s Navlog, Briefing, and performance calculations every hour until one hour prior to departure. The refreshed information is automatically synced to crew members’ devices as long as they’re connected to the internet and running ForeFlight.