ForeFlight Supports Intra-Canada and Cross-Border VFR Flight Plan Filing

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.

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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”).

Information required by Nav Canada can be entered in the Destination Contact and Phone fields

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).”

Learn more about filing in ForeFlight at foreflight.com/file.

Canadian DND Charts Now Available in ForeFlight Mobile

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.

DND approach plate

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.

DND documents

DND Documents in the ForeFlight Mobile catalog.

Medicine Hat VOR (YXH) Decommissioning

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.

YXH Decommissioned

When The Radar Lies

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.

ForeFlight Radar Layer With AP

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.

ForeFlight Launches Geo-referenced Approach Plates For Canada

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 on Vancouver airport diagram

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:

ForeFlight Mobile Pro Canada is available for $149.99 per year. For more information and to purchase, visit our Canada web page.

ForeFlight Mobile 6.1 Introduces Pack, Now Available on the App Store

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.

Pack icon

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.

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.

Pack badges

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.

Pack view.

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.

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.

Canada VNC, Heli Charts, Distance Rings and Doc Search Land in App Store

Just in time for AirVenture 2013, the latest update from ForeFlight is in the App Store. ForeFlight Mobile 5.2 – our fifth major update of the year – brings an exciting range of features:

  • NAV CANADA Visual Navigation Charts (VNC) and Visual Terminal Area (VTA) charts
  • FAA Helicopter and Gulf of Mexico VFR/IFR charts
  • Document Search
  • Distance Rings
  • Redesigned FBO view

Hey, Canada!

As a result of our expanded relationship with NAV CANADA, we are excited to announced the availability of digital Visual Navigation Charts (VNC) and Visual Terminal Area (VTA) charts in ForeFlight Mobile. The new Canada VNC map layer shows the entire mosaic of VNCs, with VTAs automatically appearing as you zoom into bigger metropolitan areas.  These charts can be downloaded to your iPad or iPhone for offline use.  The VNC and VTA charts are geo-referenced and optimized for display on the iPad and have a unique new feature: the ability to dynamically hide or show chart legends and change the stacking of charts to maximize clarity of chart features.

The complete set of VNC, VTA, IFR enroute (low and high) charts, and Canadian Air Pilot (CAP) are included with the ForeFlight Canada subscription, $149.99 USD per year.  Pilots can purchase or add Canadian coverage at http://www.foreflight.com/buy-canada.  Pilots who already have an existing ForeFlight Canada subscription can immediately start downloading VNC charts upon upgrading to ForeFlight Mobile 5.2 – the new data is included in the existing Canada plan.

FAA Helicopter and Gulf Charts

ForeFlight Mobile 5.2 also brings additional chart coverage to U.S. pilots: FAA Helicopter, Gulf of Mexico VFR, and Gulf of Mexico IFR charts.  Enable these map layers by going to More -> Downloads, tap on “United States” in the top Download Settings, then set Helicopter Charts to ON.  Go back to Maps and you’ll see the new layers in the map selector:

FAA Helicopter

Flight Bag Tiles

The VNC and Helicopter map layers allow you to dynamically hide or show chart margins and change the stacking of charts. These capabilities are made possible by packaging the charts in the Flight Bag Tiles (“FBTiles”) database format, an open database specification invented by ForeFlight for packaging geo-referenced charts for use in mobile, desktop, and web applications. The FBTiles specification is free for app makers, website developers, and national Aeronautical Information Publishers (“AIPs”) to use in order to accelerate digital charting initiatives. The specification will appear on GitHub next week.

Flight Bag Tiles

Currently, Flight Bag Tiles are only available for the Canada VNC, U.S. Helicopter, Heli Gulf VFR, and Heli Gulf IFR map layers.  To enable chart legends for these layers, tap the Map settings gear icon and set Chart Legends to ON.  Simply single-tap on a chart to see its legend.  Only one chart legend can be viewed at a time.

Distance Rings

Enabled in Settings, the new Distance Rings feature displays 3 concentric rings around your aircraft’s current location, allowing you to quickly get a sense of distance to features around you.  Based on either time or distance values, the rings give quick estimates for time enroute or nautical miles to a nearby storm cell, traffic target, shoreline, or anything else shown on the Map.

Green arrows on the rings animate smoothly to show your current track along the ground, providing yet another indication of where you’ll be in the future, and when.  There’s even an automatic scale setting that keeps the rings in view as you zoom in and out on the Maps.  From 2nm to 2000, the rings will provide a continuous reference from your aircraft.

Distance Rings

Document Search and Named Bookmarks

We completely revamped the Document Engine on the iPad to make it faster and more feature-filled.  Tap on the new magnifying glass to display the search window then start typing.  The search is extremely speedy, even in multi-hundred page documents like NOTAMs.

Document Search

When creating a new bookmark for a document, you can now give it a name to help you easily locate it later.  You can also pinch-to-close documents for quickly accessing your binder.

Redesigned FBO View

We also redesigned the FBO view to present more detailed information about facilities and amenities at your local airport.

ForeFlight FBO View

Additional features and bug fixes

  • Navlog column setting (Totals Only, Leg Only, or Both)
  • Direct connection for Bad Elf Pro GPS & Bad Elf Plug-in GPS to bypass iOS 6 GPS problems
  • Ownship vector improvements
  • Bug fix for “best winds” in pattern advisor
  • Bug fix for map tiles above 75 deg latitude
  • Bug fix for winds aloft for routes in northern latitudes

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. Please read the latest Pilot’s Guide to ForeFlight Mobile, updated for this latest version, for important tips on flying safely with ForeFlight Mobile.

ForeFlight Expands IFR Coverage to Canada!

We are thrilled to announce that ForeFlight has expanded to Canada! Over the past year, we worked alongside NAV CANADA to add IFR en-route charts and terminal procedures to ForeFlight Mobile for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. ForeFlight is the first app for Apple iOS products that provides sanctioned in-flight access to NAV CANADA charting products. Canadian charting is supported in version 4.1 of ForeFlight Mobile, which is available for download today from the iTunes App Store.

The Canadian IFR charting products are available through a new ForeFlight Canada subscription plan. Pilots new to ForeFlight can purchase a subscription from within ForeFlight Mobile or directly from the ForeFlight website. Pilots who already subscribe to ForeFlight Mobile can make changes to their subscription and add the ForeFlight Canada option at http://www.foreflight.com/store/canada.php.

A big win over the past year in working with NAV CANADA is that the digital charts are authorized for use in IFR flights, subject to Part VI of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. Canadian operators who wish to use ForeFlight and its NAV CANADA charting products can obtain authorization by following the guidance materials contained in FAA Order 8900, OPSPEC/MSPEC/LOA A061, and FAA Advisory Circular 120-76A.

The ForeFlight Canada subscription plan costs $149.99 per year, with special plans and pricing available for corporate flight departments and operators purchasing multiple subscriptions. ForeFlight is working with NAV CANADA on changes to its Visual Navigation Charts, as well as the Aviation Flight Supplement, so that those products can also make their way onto iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices.

ForeFlight Mobile 4.1 is available in the App Store for download. This update also includes a new Devices screen for viewing attached accessories, support for the Aspen Connected Panel, and bug fixes. We recommend all users update to the latest version.

A copy of the press release is available here: ForeFlight Canada Press Release