ForeFlight Mobile 4.5 Lands in App Store: Stratus ADS-B iPad Support Included

ForeFlight Mobile 4.5 is now available for download from the App Store! This substantial update includes support for Stratus, the portable ADS-B weather receiver announced at Sun ‘n Fun less than a month ago. Stratus starts shipping on April 23.

More information about Stratus is available on our website, on Appareo’s website, and in the Stratus Pilot’s Guide. Additionally, Flying Magazine’s Robert Goyer flew with Stratus across central Texas last week and posted a report – along with a gallery of 18 screenshots – on the Flying Magazine website.

If you are ready to fly with Stratus, place an order with Sporty’s.

Stratus

Stratus is a great step forward for low cost in-flight weather. Because Stratus is battery powered, wire-free, portable, and affordable, a wide range of aircraft and pilots flying without an in-flight weather option will benefit from a continuous stream of free-of-charge weather and flight information fed to the iPad – all made possible by the FAA’s ADS-B network, ForeFlight, and Stratus.

Ultimately, we believe that the proliferation of affordable, portable ADS-B solutions for FIS-B display will help pilots be more productive in the cockpit and better informed, leaving more time to look out the window and enjoy the view.

Supports All FIS-B Products

ForeFlight Mobile 4.5 supports all FIS-B products transmitted by the ADS-B network. This includes high resolution regional NEXRAD, CONUS NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, winds aloft, PIREPs, SUA information, TFRs, and NOTAMs. For information about how frequently each product is broadcast, consult the Stratus Pilots’ Guide. Frequently asked questions are also addressed on our Stratus page, at http://www.foreflight.com/stratus.

Other Enhancements

4.5 delivers an array of additional enhancements, such as direct to route search syntax, estimated time of departure offsets for routes, naming favorite routes, map performance enhancements, and enhancements to the altitude rules in the File & Brief view.

Direct To

4.5 makes inputting a route direct from current location simple. For example, if you want to fly from current position direct to KSFO airport, enter this in the route search box:

D KSFO

The “D” in front of the identifier instructs the map to compute a course from your present location to the identifier, updating trip times, ETA, and fuel.

Estimated Departure Time

If you want to plan a flight with a time of departure in the future – and take advantage of forecast weather for that departure time – you can now specify an offset from the current time or an actual time of departure in the route search box. ForeFlight Mobile will use the estimated time of departure and factor in winds aloft forecasts valid for the departure time and total trip length. ForeFlight Mobile will also transfer the ETD to the flight plan filing form as well as to logbook applications like LogTen Pro. Here are some examples of supported formats:

  • KSFO KLAX +45 – creates a flight departing in 45 minutes
  • KSFO KLAX +2h – creates a flight departing in 2 hours
  • KSFO KLAX 1345z – creates a flight departing at 13:45Z
  • KSFO KLAX 8:45a – creates a flight departing at 8:45 am local time

Naming Favorite Routes

From the nav log on the Maps screen, you can now name your favorite routes. First, plan a flight using the input box on the maps screen, then tap “Favorite”. A prompt will appear asking for a name to assign this route. The name is optional; however, if a name is provided, you’ll see that named route appear in the favorite routes list.

Flight Plan Altitudes

The File & Brief view no longer enforces cardinal cruise altitude rules for flights under 4,100′ MSL. This enhancement is to allow more flexibility for pilots flying down low or in the SFRA.

ForeFlight Mobile 4.5 is a free update for current subscribers. Click here for instructions on updating to the latest version. Please review the updated Pilot’s Guide for more detailed information, available on our website or inside the app in the Documents view. This release also includes important bug fixes, and we recommend that all customers update.

 

[Updated] Pings, Pucks, and Traffic on Stratus

December 27, 2013 NOTE: We have a short video (linked here) that shows how to connect ForeFlight Mobile to Stratus, enable the traffic layer, and interact with a traffic target. You can find out more about the ForeFlight Mobile and Stratus integration by clicking here.

April 29, 2013 NOTE: ForeFlight Mobile was updated to show ADS-B traffic data (as of v5.1).  ADS-B Out adoption has grown over the last year, but all of the cautions from this post still apply.  Read on to learn about how the ADS-B traffic system works, and why having ADS-B Out installed in your airplane is critical to getting useful traffic data.


Original post from April 1, 2012:

Many pilots today – in our booth at Sun ‘n Fun and on Facebook and Twitter – have asked about whether or not the Stratus and ForeFlight Mobile support traffic.

Firstly, Stratus does receive the traffic stream. However, ForeFlight Mobile does not to display it (edit: as of version 5.1 it DOES show traffic, see notes above), and here’s why:

You’re flying along and an aircraft passes by. No alert. Another aircraft passes by, no alert. Then another, and another, and another. No alerts. Occasionally, you get an alert. But for the most part, day in and day out, traffic passes by, no alerts. In pretty short order, you lose confidence in your portable ADS-B “traffic” system.

Without certified ADS-B “Out” equipment in your airplane, the narrative above is likely to be your experience if your aircraft is not ADS-B “Out” equipped. ADS-B ground stations only send out traffic information when a properly equipped aircraft “pings” the station. To ping, an aircraft needs certified ADS-B avionics installed that are permitted to ping, receive air-to-air traffic broadcasts, and send traffic information into the national airspace system computers. This ping ability is essentially enabled by what is referred to as “ADS-B Out”.  Stratus is ADS-B In only, and does not provide ADS-B Out capability.

In response to ADS-B Out pings, an ADS-B ground station sends back traffic data in a hockey puck-shaped area centered around the transmitting aircraft. Ground stations aren’t always broadcasting traffic data – they transmit that when an ADS-B Out signal is received.

The “puck” sent is a customized set of traffic data – targets consisting of any aircraft transmitting ADS-B Out, Mode A/S/C, or targets being picked up by radar – observed within a 15nm radius of the ADS-B Out equipped aircraft’s current position (plus or minus 3,500′ in relative altitude).

If your aircraft is not equipped to “ping” you would only receive traffic data centered around other ADS-B Out equipped aircraft that happened to be nearby.  If you are on the fringe of that other aircraft’s puck, you’d be more than half blind.  Since there are few aircraft currently equipped with ADS-B Out, this “blindness” would be a very common situation.

Traffic on a portable ADS-B weather receiver creates a potentially dangerous false sense of security for pilots flying without ADS-B Out. They would not be seeing the whole traffic picture.

As we get closer to 2020, ADS-B out adoption will grow. However, until ADS-B Out adoption is more widespread, ForeFlight Mobile will not be showing traffic data from the system to avoid this situation.

Introducing Stratus: Portable ADS-B Weather for ForeFlight Mobile

Introducing Stratus

We’d like to introduce you to Stratus, a new high-performance, battery powered, portable, wire-free ADS-B weather receiver designed to work hand in glove with ForeFlight Mobile.  Stratus is the result of a collaboration between Appareo Systems, ForeFlight, and Sporty’s.

We believe that Stratus is best-in-class when it comes to portable ADS-B weather receivers, and we’re delighted to announce that Stratus support will land with ForeFlight Mobile 4.5, available by April 23.

Stratus uses the ADS-B weather network, so it does not require any additional subscription for in-flight weather services. It is a great option for owner-flown aircraft, flight schools, renters, flying clubs, and even corporate flight departments looking for less expensive in-flight weather options that don’t require retrofitting their aircraft. Even if your aircraft already has in-panel in-flight weather support, Stratus is an inexpensive backup that could come in handy when needed, and is portable between aircraft.

The first time you fly with a fully-charged Stratus is a thrill.  Bring it into your plane, turn it on, don’t connect any wires, and then see the green ADS-B signal indicator light up, indicating receipt of ADS-B transmissions.

Stratus costs $799 and is available for pre-order from Sporty’s at http://www.sportys.com/stratus.

Details

Stratus includes an internal battery that will provide power for up to eight hours; a high-gain, high-performance internal antenna that provides reception in most cockpits without the need for the optional external antenna; and is tested to DO160F standards for magnetic and altitude effects.

Stratus broadcasts weather and other information to the iPad via the Stratus WiFi network, allowing everyone in the aircraft running ForeFlight Mobile to view real-time weather and information as it is received from ADS-B ground stations. Some feature highlights:

  • Compact design with a rugged enclosure measuring 5.8″ x 4.2″ x 1.1″.
  • Internal antenna for wire-free operation in most cockpits.
  • Long battery life, up to 8 hours, and recharges via a standard Micro USB cable.
  • Active WAAS GPS for improved position information and support for fast aircraft speeds.
  • LED indicators with ambient light sensors for battery health, power, and ADS-B station reception.
  • Tested to DO160F for magnetic effect and altitude, ESD, and vibration tested.
  • iPad 2 or iPad 3 strongly recommend.

Stratus is tightly integrated with ForeFlight Mobile, providing national (continental USA) and high-resolution regional NEXRAD radar, METARs, TAFs, winds aloft, AIRMETS/SIGMETS, PIREPS, NOTAMs, and TFRs.

ForeFlight customers will find the transition from using ForeFlight on the ground for pre-flight weather analysis to in-flight weather monitoring a seamless one. The only change is that data sourced from Stratus will include an “ADS-B” label, indicating the source of the data is from the ADS-B system.

Adding to the experience is deep integration between Stratus and ForeFlight Mobile, like the ability to control the brightness of the three Stratus LED indicators from within ForeFlight, a satellite status indicator for the Stratus’ on-board WAAS GPS, ADS-B ground station signal information, ages for both text and radar products, Stratus power options, and battery levels.

Here’s a short video introduction to Stratus, produced by Sporty’s.

Stratus at Sun ‘n Fun

The Stratus will be on display at these three locations during Sun ‘n Fun:

  • ForeFlight Booth C-92
  • Sporty’s Booth C-90
  • Appareo Systems Booth A-080

ADS-B and Coverage Information

The ADS-B system is a network of transceivers commissioned by the FAA. The ADS-B system broadcasts two classes of information, referred to as TIS-B (for traffic) and FIS-B (for weather and flight information). Stratus supports receipt of the FIS-B, which includes a range of weather and flight related information.

If you fly within any of the blue areas below, you will be able to enjoy Stratus for in-flight weather information, including national NEXRAD, high-resolution regional NEXRAD, AIRMETS and SIGMETS, TFRs, METARs, TAFs, Winds Aloft, PIREPs, and NOTAMs. In our flight testing, we were able to receive ADS-B ground stations in fringe areas outside the locations depicted below when using Stratus’ optional external antenna, especially at cruise altitudes.

The FAA is quickly building out the ADS-B system, and coverage may be available in your area in the near future. We will update the coverage map as more tower location information is made available.

Additional Stratus Information

Additional information is available at:

About Appareo

Appareo is a recognized leader in the custom development and manufacture of low-cost innovative avionic solutions for original equipment manufacturers. Through the creative application of cutting-edge technologies, Appareo creates complex end-to-end solutions that include both airborne and ground station components. Appareo offers turn-key services from product conceptualization through attainment of supplemental type certificate. In addition, the company is an accredited FAA Parts Manufacturing facility. Appareo is based in Fargo, N.D. Visit Appareo on the web at https://www.appareo.com
About Sporty’s
Now in its 51st year, Sporty’s has grown from a one-man operation launched by Hal Shevers to the world’s largest pilot shop and an iconic general aviation brand. Sporty’s operations extend to airport management, avionics installation and repair, aircraft maintenance, a residential airport community, new aircraft sales and flight training, including for the University of Cincinnati’s professional pilot program. Located at Clermont County/Sporty’s Airport (I69), Sporty’s is philanthropically dedicated to expanding the general aviation community with both pilots and skilled technicians.