Aviation Youtuber and long-time ForeFlighter Flight Chops (@FlightChops) shares a bit about how the app helps him fly such a diverse range of aircraft confidently and safely.
As a relatively low time private / instrument-rated pilot, I’m lucky to be in the position to have access to many types of aircraft. I’m currently flying a T6 / Harvard regularly, but find myself in anything from a PA-32 Cherokee Six, to a DHC-2 Beaver, or a Van’s Aircraft RV-14. Systems, procedures, and performance vary wildly between these platforms, but the one thing that doesn’t change is ForeFlight, the EFB that is onboard with me regardless of what I am flying.
The peace of mind that consistency affords in an otherwise unfamiliar cockpit environment is significant. Everything I need is within one app, from planning, to briefing, to filing and executing the mission, and even my multiple aircraft-specific checklists; it is all there.
Lately, most of my flying has been low altitude in warbirds with poor forward visibility and no modern avionics to speak of. Enroute I enjoy reviewing ForeFlight’s Synthetic Vision with the Hazard Advisor showing me terrain and obstacles such as radio towers that I might otherwise have a hard time spotting. And of course, weather layers make it easy to avoid getting into unfavourable conditions.
As I get into more high speed, high altitude IFR flying in the newly built RV-14, ForeFlight will help me assess wind, turbulence, and icing risk in the easy to visualize Profile View.
The Glide Advisor removes all doubt about where I can go in the event of an engine failure. In some cases it is not pretty as it accounts for wind and terrain making it super clear if you are boxing yourself in; I like to use that to remind myself to keep my options open.
Another feature I look forward to using as I expand my cross country mission flying is the Takeoff and Landing Distances capability for pistons – this too is of course specific to your aircraft performance and weather conditions, so it truly makes the whole process of assessing go / no go decisions almost too easy.
Key Takeaways:ForeFlight has adopted Jeppesen’s high-quality NOTAM feed as the sole source of NOTAMs in the app and on the web, an example of the ongoing effort to integrate Jeppesen’s data resources for the benefit of ForeFlight customers. This change expands our global NOTAM coverage to include many previously-unsupported countries from South America to Asia, and also improves NOTAM accuracy by removing old NOTAMs more promptly.
The week before the release of ForeFlight version 13.0 on January 25th, our team completed and released a significant yet easy-to-miss update to ForeFlight’s NOTAM system: we fully transitioned to using Jeppesen as the source of all NOTAMs in ForeFlight. Many months in the making, this change greatly enhances both the accuracy and global coverage of in-app NOTAMs thanks to the Jeppesen team’s work building and maintaining a high-quality NOTAM feed over many years.
Domestic & International NOTAMs
Any NOTAM issued by a country usually fits into one of two categories: International NOTAMs or Domestic NOTAMs. As you might suspect, the former are those that directly affect international flight ops, while the latter apply only to local operations within a given country. And while most of the large NOTAM aggregation and distribution sources – such as the United States NOTAM Office and EUROCONTROL’s EAD feed – carry all international NOTAMs, they often miss domestic NOTAMs from other countries and therefore provide incomplete coverage outside of the United States and Europe.
Jeppesen solves this problem by working directly with the primary NOTAM issuers in countries around the world to create a robust feed that includes domestic NOTAMs in addition to international ones. The existing global relationships established by Jeppesen for sourcing AIP and chart data allows them to maintain this state-of-the-art NOTAM system and provide complete coverage for flight departments operating all over the world.
The countries and regions that have improved domestic NOTAM coverage with Jeppesen’s feed include South Africa, Central America, Cuba, New Zealand, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Russia, India, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Out with the Old, in with the NOTAMs
So how do ForeFlight customers benefit from this new and improved NOTAM feed? As noted above, the new system provides many domestic NOTAMs that were previously unavailable in several countries. Below is an example of this from South Africa, one of the countries providing Jeppesen with domestic NOTAMs.
This comparison between the old (left) and new (right) NOTAM feeds illustrates the substantial difference that including domestic NOTAMs can make. These screenshots also demonstrate the other major benefit of the switch: more accurate NOTAMs. Note the effective date of the unreliable runway light NOTAM in the left screenshot. Since the end date for this NOTAM later the same month was marked as estimated, the NOTAM was treated by the system as permanent and thus never removed, a common problem for semi-permanent NOTAMs or those with uncertain end dates under our old NOTAM feed. With Jeppesen’s feed, such old and expired NOTAMs are removed more promptly, ensuring that stale information doesn’t persist long after it ceases to be relevant.
Canadian SNOWTAMs & More
ForeFlight customers flying in Canada may also notice some welcome improvements in NOTAM accuracy and consistency, particularly with regard to NOTAMJs or “SNOWTAMs”, Canadian domestic Runway Surface Condition NOTAMs. These are issued on a daily basis or even more frequently during the winter for nearly all airports in Canada, providing critical information for pilots planning their next flight. With Jeppesen’s NOTAM feed Canadian pilots can expect an improvement in the timeliness and accuracy of these critical NOTAMs whenever they’re issued.
While not all pilots will notice the change, especially those flying in the US or Europe where coverage of domestic NOTAMs isn’t a significant problem, those flying in many other countries around the globe – from Canada, to South Africa, to Brazil, and more – can expect to find more accurate and more complete NOTAMs the next time they check their local airport in ForeFlight.
UPDATE: ForeFlight supports filing VFR flight plans between Canada and the US in either direction. VFR flight plans should be opened in the country of departure and closed in the destination country. For a Canada-to-US flight, close your flight plan by calling 1-800-WXBRIEF or through the Tower. For a US-to-Canada VFR flight, close your flight plan by calling 1-866-WXBRIEF.
ForeFlight’s flight plan filing capabilities recently got a big boost with support for intra-Canada VFR flight plans.
VFR flight plans for routes within Canada are now sent directly to Nav Canada, allowing customers to both plan and file Canadian VFR flights entirely within ForeFlight Mobile or via the ForeFlight website. ForeFlight also supports cross-border VFR flight plans from the U.S. to Canada and all IFR flight plans within or between the U.S. and Canada, in either direction.
When filing a VFR flight plan within Canada, pilots are required to fill out the Destination Contact and Phone fields in the ICAO flight plan form. These fields specify who should be contacted if search and rescue actions need to be initiated. Pilots are also required to provide their license number, which can be entered after their name in the Pilot Name field (e.g. “Joe Pilot LIC 123456”).
Pilots filing Canadian VFR flights are required to provide their license number, which can be entered after their name in the Pilot Name field as shown here.
As with other flight plan types, Canadian VFR flight plans can be amended or canceled within ForeFlight using the Amend and Cancel buttons at the bottom of the flight plan form. The Activate and Close functions are not currently available for Canadian flight plans, so a pilot must contact flight service to perform these functions. If a flight plan is not activated by phone, it will automatically activate at the estimated time of departure specified in the flight plan, as prescribed in Transport Canada’s Aeronautical Information Manual:
“A VFR flight plan should normally be opened with a Tower, a Flight Service Station, a Flight Information Center or a Community Aerodrome Radio Station upon departure to activate the alerting service. The pilot is responsible for extending or cancelling the flight plan if the flight is delayed or cancelled. If an extension or cancellation is not received by the proposed departure time, the responsible ATS unit will activate the flight plan or flight itinerary, using the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) as the Actual Time of Departure (ATD).”
ForeFlight customers now have access to a wealth of new international NOTAMs in the app. In particular, all Canadian NOTAMs available on the NavCanada website are now available in ForeFlight, saving our Canadian and cross-border customers valuable flight planning time.
Most international airports now include NOTAMs for their FIR (Flight Information Region), which can be found under the ARTCC NOTAMs tab, as well as additional airport, obstacle, and TFR NOTAMs. The rate at which NOTAMs update in ForeFlight is also faster.
Although the number of NOTAMs available in ForeFlight has expanded greatly, it is not exhaustive, so be sure to check other sources for relevant NOTAMs when planning a flight outside the US.
Coupled with the introduction of Logbook, we announced 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 USD/year. (Basic plan options are now available for Canada!)
The new Pro Plus plan includes everything in the current Pro plan plus Logbook and Synthetic Vision for $199.99 USD/year.
If you are on an existing Basic or Pro plan, you can still renew those plans.
Should you decide to upgrade to Basic Plus or Pro Plus, you will receive a prorated credit from your existing subscription, towards the new purchase, during the checkout process.
Each plan comes with one geo-region (Canada or US). You can now add a second geo-region for $100 USD.
You can also use our Build-Your-Own-Plan tool to add Logbook or other features à la carte.
ForeFlight Pro Canada subscribers now have access to the full Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) aeronautical data. This includes 118 new DND aerodrome and heliport charts, departures, and procedures, all accessible in ForeFlight Mobile from the Plates view or from the Airports view under the Procedures tab. These charts are not currently geo-referenced, but will be made so in the near future.
Canadian DND helicopter approach plate for Pembroke, ON.
Additionally, there is a new DND section in the Nav Canada portion of the ForeFlight Mobile Documents catalog that includes the Canadian Forces Flight Supplement, the Government Publication Handbook (GPH) 204A: Flight Planning and Procedures Document, and the GPH 204B: Glossary for Pilots.
The DND charts are automatically delivered via the normal 28-day update cycle and ForeFlight Pro Canada customers have access now with the October 15 update.
On October 15, 2015 at 0901 UTC, the Medicine Hat VOR (YXH) in Canada will be decommissioned. This affects routes that include J477 past the US/Canadian border. Flight plans using this airway to fly into Canada will be rejected upon filing. To compensate, a new waypoint called OTVUK will be established October 15th on the US/Canada border where J477 previously crossed it. Pilots can file direct from GGW to this or other waypoints such as VESDO or TOVUM when flying into Canada.
The NavCanada notice of this change can be found here.
The ground-based radar mosaic displayed on the Map view in ForeFlight Mobile combines radar data from the National Weather Service (NWS) and Environment Canada. Its primary purpose is to provide pilots with a good estimation of where precipitation is occurring and where it’s not. While there are some holes in the coverage (especially in Canada) the radar mosaic is fairly accurate most of the time. Even so, non-precipitation returns generically called ground clutter can be displayed on the radar layer producing what looks like very real areas of precipitation.
Anomalous propagation, or AP, is perhaps the most annoying form of clutter. Essentially with AP, part of the side lobes of the radar beam are ducted or bent down toward the earth during certain atmospheric conditions. This causes it to strike objects on the ground (trees, buildings, cars, etc.) and some of that power from the beam is reflected back to the radar along the same bent path and gets recorded as areas of precipitation. When this occurs you might see on ForeFlight what looks like real precipitation. In fact, it can look remarkably like real convection at times fooling even the most seasoned pilot.
Anomalous propagation (AP) on the ForeFlight radar layer near Buffalo, New York.
What to do if you suspect AP
Since AP can look remarkably like real areas of precipitation (including thunderstorms), it’s important to always examine the observational data in and around the area. This includes cross-checking surface observations (METARs) to see if precipitation or thunderstorms are being reported. Also, without clouds, it can’t rain. So if clear skies are being reported all around the area, then either the precipitation shown on the radar is very isolated or perhaps it’s erroneous. Keep in mind that automated reports only show clouds that exist below 12,000 feet AGL.
Along these lines, the visible satellite imagery in ForeFlight Mobile can also be useful to identify non-precipitation returns during the daytime hours. If precipitation exists on radar, there should be clouds in that region even if it is isolated convection. If there are no clouds, the returns on the radar are likely ground clutter or AP.
Even when the area is cloudy, AP can still exist. If this is the case and you suspect AP, try looping the radar. Most real precipitation moves and evolves over time, but AP tends to stay anchored over the same area with little noticeable movement. Moreover, the radar loop may look erratic and the intensity may change in a way that’s unnatural.
While AP can occur the U.S. it tends to occur the most in the Canadian Provinces. A favored place is on the U.S. side of Lake Erie just onshore and also in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest in British Columbia. While AP can occur anytime of the day or night, it’s often favored during the morning hours just before and after sunrise. This the time of day where the atmosphere is generally stable near the surface which is a perfect environment to allow the side lobes of the radar to be ducted.
So why can’t AP be filtered?
Filtering the radar of non-precipitation returns is like walking a fine line. If you filter too aggressively, you may remove real areas of precipitation; if you don’t filter enough, you get clutter such as AP displayed. In the U.S., filtering can be automated since the Doppler portion of the radar is available. This can be used to help filter AP and other ground clutter. While Canadian radars are Doppler radars, Environment Canada does not export the Doppler data at this time. Also in the U.S., the NEXRAD ground-based radar systems are all fitted with a dual polarization (dual pol) capability which can provide additional information to filter non-precipitation returns.
At the moment the only way to guarantee that AP from Canadian radars won’t find its way into the ForeFlight radar layer is to add a gross filter before the data reaches the display. This is accomplished by our radar provider by manually turning off the data coming from the offending radar(s). This can be risky since it means that all returns shown from this radar will be eliminated, false or not. The folks at Barons who produce the XM-delivered satellite weather also face the same issue with Canadian radars. They don’t turn off specific radars. Instead they create a manual gross filter that eliminates all returns over regions that are highly unlikely to receive precipitation.
In the end, every piece of information you use to make preflight decisions should be scrutinized even if it comes from a trusted source. Take the time to cross-check the radar layer against other sources within the ForeFlight Mobile app so you won’t be fooled.
NAV CANADA has recently taken steps to modernize the Canada Air Pilot (CAP) and Restricted Canada Air Pilot (RCAP) publications. One of the six key areas of improvement is making all published procedures to scale, which (we are excited to announce) enables us to geo-reference them for ownship display. The new charts are available in-app now as a late-cycle 1406 data update. Current Canada subscribers will see the new, geo-referenced publications automatically replace the old ones as part of the standard data update process.
Ownship display shown on Vancouver BC airport diagram.
For improved situational awareness and better decision-making, our Canadian customers can now take full advantage of pre-flight planning and inflight moving map features like Plates on Maps:
During pre-flight planning, brief your approach overlaid on the Maps view to better visualize the entry.
Use annotations to trace your taxi clearance and follow your ownship progress across the airport diagram. Runway proximity advisor alert is also shown here.
For greater situational awareness Inflight, use ForeFlight to cross-check your aircraft position overlaid on the procedure.
ForeFlight Mobile Pro Canada is available for $149.99 per year. For more information and to purchase, visit our Canada web page.
Pack Feature Automatically Selects The Data You Need For Your Flight
ForeFlight Mobile 6.1 introduces Pack—a feature that simplifies pre-flight preparation and enhances your safety by ensuring that you have all of the current charts, data, NOTAMS, fuel prices, and the latest pre-departure weather information stored on your device for inflight access. During the flight planning phase, Pack prompts you to download to your iPad or iPhone the relevant information you may need based on your planned flight. Check out our short video that introduces how to use Pack:
On the iPad
Enter your desired route in the Route Editor. The Pack icon, or suitcase, is located on the bottom right of the Route Editor.
The Pack icon is located in the lower right of the Route Editor box.
Pack analyzes your planned route against the data you already have downloaded, and then prompts you to download any additional charts, plates, TFRs, METARs, TAFs, AIR/SIGMETs, NOTAMs and fuel price data you may need for offline access.
Pack has a Settings control that toggles Enable Auto-Check on and off. Turning Enable Auto-Check ON enables Pack to automatically start the route analysis process. In the OFF position, you can still trigger Pack manually by tapping on the icon in the Route Editor.
Toggle the auto-enable for Pack in the Settings menu.
The red exclamation point badge on the Route Editor icon and on the suitcase icon indicates that you need to pack for your trip.
The red exclamation point badges indicate that you need to pack for your trip.
Tap on the Pack icon to view the download detail for your trip.
View the data you need to download for offline use in the Pack view. Download items individually by tapping the blue download arrows, or trigger the entire set by tapping Pack in the lower right.
Each type of chart or set of data is bundled into a single line item. You can download each line item individually by tapping on the blue arrow(s); or you can trigger the entire set by tapping the Pack button in the lower right corner. To help you manage the available space on your iPad, each line item is labeled with file sizes. The total file size is indicated in the lower left corner.
Modifying your route via typing in the Route Editor in the Maps view; touch planning in the Maps view; typing in the File & Brief view; or accepting expected route notifications (Flight Alerts) triggers a new Pack analysis. The updated route is evaluated and you’ll be presented with any additional data you need to download.
On the iPhone
Pack can be accessed on the iPhone in the Route view. Tap on the Menu button, then scroll to the Routes section. Tap on one of the three recent routes listed, Favorites, Recents, or Create to select the route for which you wish to Pack.
After choosing or entering a route, scroll to the bottom of the Route page to the Pack line. Just like on the iPad, after a few seconds Pack analyzes the route to determine if additional data needs to be downloaded.
On the iPhone, access Pack by first choosing a route in the Menu.
On the iPhone, tap on a route to view the Pack status.
Pack view shown on the iPhone.
Pack is available with version 6.1 of ForeFlight Mobile Standard, Pro, and Canada. ForeFlight Mobile version 6.1 is a free download for subscribers via the Apple Store. For additional information, be sure to review the Pack section of our Pilot’s Guide.