Apple iOS 10.2 and ForeFlight

UPDATE December 15, 2016: Compatibility testing between ForeFlight Mobile 8.2.1 and iOS 10.2 is complete and we are issuing the “all-clear” to ForeFlight customers. Feel free to upgrade at your convenience.

Based on our testing we believe that iOS 10.2 resolves Bluetooth connectivity issues that some customers have experienced with third-party devices.

ORIGINAL POST December 13, 2016: We are performing compatibility testing between ForeFlight and the newly released iOS 10.2 to ensure that everything is working smoothly. We will update this post with an “all-clear” when testing is completed. You can also follow our Facebook page or Twitter feed for updates.

Also, ForeFlight 8.2.1 is now available for download on the Apple App Store. Click here to read about the update.

ForeFlight 8.2.1 Now Available on the App Store

ForeFlight version 8.2.1 corrects a few items in 8.2, including Stratus 2S Track Logs not being available in ForeFlight, an issue where filing a destination using a Lat/Long format (DDMMN/DDDMMW) caused a filing error, and an issue where the search disambiguation function did not always offer potential airways. We’re on frequency at team@foreflight.com if you experience any issues with the update.

Upgrades to Aeronautical Maps, Safety Alerts, Logbook, and More with ForeFlight 8.2

ForeFlight 8.2 includes more data in Aeronautical Maps, new in-flight alerts that keep you aware on the ground and in the air, Logbook enhancements with improved currency tracking, Garmin Flight Stream 510 connectivity, and more.

Click here to explore all the new features in 8.2.

Bulletin: December 8 Data Updates

An updated Airport and Nav Database (Dec 8 Update) is available to download for the December 8, 2016 – January 5, 2017 period. This update corrects some airspaces that were incorrectly depicted as Class D in Aeronautical Maps.

All customers will be prompted to download these updates inside of ForeFlight Mobile.

‘Tis the season for airframe ice

Now that cold air has infiltrated a good portion of North America, it’s time to review one important aspect of airframe icing, namely, precipitation type. The three basic wintry precipitation types include snow, ice pellets (colloquially known as sleet) and freezing rain (also freezing drizzle). Surface observations (METARs) and forecasts such as TAFs typically report these precipitation types based on what’s reaching or expected to reach the surface. That’s a critical element to understand. If the surface temperature is expected to be even a degree or two above freezing, you may see a forecast for rain (RA) or drizzle (DZ) in the TAF instead of freezing rain (FZRA) or freezing drizzle (FZDZ). However, just 500 feet above the ground a serious icing hazard may be lurking. So let’s take a look at the three primary precipitation types and examine the temperature profile aloft that’s common for each.

Snow

Snowflakes are just collections of ice crystals that coalesce as they fall toward the Earth’s surface. For snow (SN) to reach the surface, there needs to be a deep moist layer that is, for the most part, entirely below freezing. More importantly, the key to getting snow is that the top of this moist layer must be sufficiently cold to produce those ice crystals. While there is no definitive temperature, ice crystals begin to dominate when the top of this moist layer is -12 degrees Celsius or colder. Precipitation continues to fall as snow when the temperature remains at or below 0 degrees Celsius from the cloud base to the ground. Wet snow is the result of temperatures slightly above freezing near the surface.

snow

A typical environmental temperature profile that produces snow. Image courtesy of NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.

Freezing rain

There are two processes in the atmosphere that can produce freezing rain (FZRA), namely, classical and nonclassical. The classic situation is what most pilots are taught during their primary training. That is, the precipitation starts out high in the cloud as snowflakes. These snowflakes fall through a melting layer that’s warmer than 0 degrees Celsius. If the melting layer is sufficiently warm and/or deep enough, it will melt those snowflakes turning them entirely into raindrops. That rain falls into a subfreezing layer and becomes freezing rain creating a significant airframe icing hazard.

freezingrain

A typical temperature profile that produces classical freezing rain. Image courtesy of NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.

The nonclassical case is a bit more complex to explain, but essentially the entire process remains liquid. In other words, the precipitation high in the cloud doesn’t involve snow. This occurs when the weather system isn’t terribly deep and the top of the moist layer is at a temperature warmer than -12 degrees Celsius. Warmer subfreezing temperatures at the tops tend to prefer a liquid process over the production of ice crystals. In the non-classical case, the entire temperature profile aloft may be below freezing or may also have a melting layer. Regardless of the actual profile, the non-classical case is strictly an all-liquid process. In most situations, you’ll see a lot of tiny drops that produce a nasty freezing drizzle environment. Surprisingly, 92 percent of the cases are nonclassical based on a study done by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Ice pellets

Ice pellets (PL) are similar to the classical freezing rain case mentioned above, except that the melting layer is very shallow. This doesn’t entirely melt the snowflake, and the drop retains a slushy inner core. These slushy drops refreeze as they fall through a deep layer of subfreezing air near the surface, and eventually reach the ground as hard little nuggets that bounce on impact.

sleet

A typical temperature profile that produces ice pellets. Image courtesy of NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.

Keep in mind that ice pellets often indicate the presence of supercooled large drop (SLD) icing aloft. While the frozen pellets will bounce right off of your aircraft while in flight (taking a bit of paint with it), they are often mixed with other forms of freezing precipitation including freezing rain especially at altitudes right below the shallow melting layer.

Here’s a little bit of ice pellet trivia. The abbreviation for ice pellets used to be PE. However, when rain and ice pellets occurred together with rain being the dominant precipitation type, the surface observation includes the term RAPE. This was deemed to be politically incorrect in English speaking countries and the abbreviation for ice pellets was then modified to PL.

So the next time you venture out this cold season, pay attention not only to the precipitation types that are being reported or forecast but also get a sense of the temperature profile aloft.

Bulletin: December 8 Data Updates

Data updates are now available to download for the December 10, 2016 – January 5, 2016 period:

  • Airport and Navigation Database
  • Documents
  • VFR Charts and Terminal Area Charts
  • Taxi Diagrams
  • Terminal Procedures
  • Airport/Facility Diagrams
  • ForeFlight Airport Diagrams, including new diagrams and updates for the following airports:
00R 02P 05C 06A 07F 09J
0A3 1A9 1R8 2W6 C89 EGLL
EGNM EGPK EKKA EKOD GE99 KADW
KAIA KAKQ KAUW KCRS KCRX KCUB
KCUH KCVX KDMN KDNL KDVK KDYR
KDZJ KEAT KGAB KPSN KPSO KSAC
KSAD KSXU KTLH LGSR MDLR MDST
MM10 MM20 MM23 MM26 MM37 MM76
MM79 MM81 MMBT MMCC MMCL MMCM
MMCN MMCU MMCV MMDO MMGL MMHO
MMLM MMLO MMLP MMLT MMMD MMMM
MMMT MMMY MMMZ MMPB MMPR MMQT
MMSP MMTC MMTG MMUN MMVA MMVR
MMZH MMZO MRLB MSSS MTPP MUCM
MUCU MUHA MUVR MYBC MYES NTAA
OERK PAEI PANI PASM PFYU PPIZ
SARI SBGP SCIP SEQM SKRG SPJC
TAPA TFFR TGPY TJPS TLPL TNCB
TNCM UAAA VIDP X04 Y47 ZUBD

Data updates are also available for our Military Flight Bag customers:

  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Terminal Procedures
  • Georeferenced worldwide D-FLIP Airport Diagrams
  • EEA High Enroutes, Area Charts
  • ENAME High and Low Enroutes, Area Charts
  • D-FLIP Publications such as Planning Change Notices, Area Planning Documents,
  • Chart Supplements, Enroute Change Notices, and Terminal Change Notices.
  • Airfield Qualification Program (AQP) diagrams
  • Airport/Facility Directory

All customers will be prompted to download these updates inside of ForeFlight Mobile.

Upgrades to Aeronautical Maps, Safety Alerts, Logbook, and More with ForeFlight 8.2

The theme of ForeFlight 8.2 is to enhance core app features. Aeronautical Maps, Alerts, Garmin connectivity, and Logbook all received development love. Download ForeFlight 8.2 now on the App Store!

More Data, More Customization Options for Aeronautical Maps

We compiled your feedback and delivered the top items you wanted to see in our global data-driven Aeronautical Maps. Data additions include altitude markers for Class B, C, and D airspace, ARTCC frequency stamps, Class E surface areas, Mode C rings, Special Airport Traffic Rule (SATR) areas, U.S. ADIZ, and Terminal Radar Service Areas (TRSAs).

Aeronautical Maps airspace details

Explore the Map Settings menu for more options to customize the Aeronautical Maps layer; for example, to turn on and off airport and airspace types. For customers who fly outside of the U.S., you can access airspace details when you tap-hold on an airspace outline and then select the All tab at the bottom of the pop-up. Tap on an item in the pop-up window to highlight it on the map.

Aeronautical Maps airspace

Left: More options to customize the Aeronautical Maps layer in the Map Settings menu; Right: Tap-hold on airspace outside the U.S. for more details.

Stunning Aeronautical Maps Now on the Web

The same incredibly fast rebuilt map engine and stunning data-driven Aeronautical Maps you enjoy in ForeFlight Mobile have landed on the web. ForeFlight’s Continuous Zoom technology smoothly declutters the map as you zoom in and out, and provides essential aeronautical information with a single click of the mouse. All of your work syncs instantly from the web to mobile, giving you the flexibility to plan on the desktop and in the cockpit. Log in to foreflight.com with your ForeFlight Mobile credentials and start your next flight plan on the web.

New Safety Alerts for Increased Situational Awareness

Better in-flight situational awareness is a major theme for us, and we continue that theme with three new safety alerts.

ForeFlight inflight alert settings

Manage Alert settings by navigating to More > Settings > Alerts.

The Sink Rate Alert activates when your descending vertical speed exceeds 4,000’ per minute for more than 5 seconds while flying above 2,500’ AGL. Below 2,500’, the vertical speed required to activate the alert drops to 3,000’ per minute and gradually lowers along with the altitude, down to 1,500’ per minute at 500’ AGL and below.

The 500’ AGL Alert triggers when you descend below 500’ AGL. To prevent the alert from repeating it is only shown if you have previously been above 1,000’ AGL.

Finally, the Runway Proximity Advisor, an alert which lets you know when you’re approaching and entering a runway, now includes both the name of the runway and the length remaining in feet, rounded to the nearest hundred. This alert is a helpful final cross-check that you are lined up on the correct runway.

You can manage all of the Alerts in ForeFlight in More > Settings > Alerts.

Whether on the runway or in the sky, these alerts provide critical information when you need it, and add to ForeFlight’s lineup of helpful safety features.

Keep Your Logbook Currency Summaries Accurate

Logbook aircraft validationThe color-coded Currency Summaries in ForeFlight Logbook are an excellent way to stay on top of certificate expiration dates, flight currency requirements, or flying goals.

Because most of the Currency Summaries rely on complete aircraft profile information to accurately reflect status, Logbook will now flag any missing details (like category, class, or gear type) when you add an aircraft to a flight entry.

An orange alert marker appears next to the aircraft, signaling that you need to add information. When you tap into the profile, the fields with missing information are also highlighted in orange to make it even easier.

Connect Sporty's online course with ForeFlight LogbookConnect Your Sporty’s Online Training to Logbook

A new integration with Sporty’s allows you to receive certificates and endorsements in Logbook for completing Sporty’s online flight training courses.

Login to the Sporty’s online training portal to link your ForeFlight account.

 

Logbook airport lookup helper

Quick Airport Lookup in Logbook Flight Entries

Now you can quickly look up and select your departure and destination airports when you fill out your flight entry. Start typing an airport name, identifier, or city to auto-populate a list of available options. Your recent and favorite airports are also listed for easy access. Just one more way to make flight logging easier and faster!

Connectivity with Garmin Flight Stream 510

ForeFlight now supports the Flight Stream 510, Garmin’s latest addition to their Connext product line. The Flight Stream 510 connects to your iPad or iPhone via Bluetooth, enabling ForeFlight to receive GPS data, ADS-B weather* and traffic, and attitude data, as well as two-way flight plan transfer between ForeFlight and the GTN 650 and GTN 750 series navigators.

Learn more about connectivity with Garmin avionics at foreflight.com/garmin.

*Please note that satellite weather from the GDL69 through the Flight Stream 510 to ForeFlight Mobile is not currently supported.

Get Your Call Sign on File

You can now add your FAA-registered call sign to your flight plan form. This new field appears underneath the tail number field and is transmitted to ATC in place of your tail number when you file (your tail number is automatically added to the Remarks section of the flight plan so it’s available to ATC). If you leave the call sign field blank, the plan will be filed under the aircraft’s tail number.

ForeFlight gift certificates now availableGift Certificates Now Available

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your pilot-friend or flight instructor? ForeFlight Gift Certificates are now available! Click here to purchase.

Bulletin: November 18 Data Updates

Updated Terminal Procedures for Massachusetts and Michigan are now available to download for the November 10, 2016 – December 8, 2016 period. These updates address FAA Safety Alerts 16-17 and 16-18.

Updated versions of the Aeronautical Information Manual, Aviation Weather Services (AC 00-45H), and the Pilot/Controller Glossary are also available inside our Documents Catalog.

All customers will be prompted to download these updates inside of ForeFlight Mobile.

New Caribbean VFR Charts Available in ForeFlight

Two new Caribbean VFR sectional charts, recently published by the FAA, are now available in ForeFlight. The Caribbean 1 and Caribbean 2 charts cover the Caribbean and the Bahamas and replace the World Aeronautical Charts (WACs) that cover this region. In case you missed it, the FAA is in the process of phasing out WACs.

US VFR Caribbean chart

View the new Caribbean 1 and Caribbean 2 charts in the U.S. VFR sectional map layer.

You can view the new charts in the U.S. VFR sectional map layer, and they are available to download by anyone with a ForeFlight subscription that includes the U.S. geographic region. You can download them by enabling the switch for VFR Charts and selecting Florida and Puerto Rico in the United States download settings.

The WACs covering the Caribbean will be available in ForeFlight until they expire: CJ-26 expires on February 1, 2018 and CJ-27 expires on March 29, 2018. After these dates, the charts will no longer be available for download in the app.

Aging Surface Observations

One of the more common concerns raised by ForeFlight customers is the age of surface observations or METARs shown within the app. They often wonder why the age of a METAR can be 60 or more minutes old in some cases. To understand why this occurs, let’s discuss how routine surface observations are taken throughout the world.

metar-age

The age shown here in the airport popover is based solely on the difference between the current time and the time the METAR was issued.

If you visit most any airport in the U.S., you’ll likely see one of two weather observing systems installed: the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) or the Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS). Both of these are capable of generating one or more weather reports each hour. Although these systems observe the weather nearly continuously in time, they will only generate official reports known as an aviation routine weather report or METAR when certain conditions apply.

Routine observations

For an ASOS, only one routine report is issued every hour, which is a key reason for the seemingly excessive age of these observations. If you pay close attention to the issuance time on METARs, you will notice that many routine observations are issued a few minutes before the top of each hour. Starting at 47:20 past the hour, the ASOS begins to make its routine observation. By 53:20, the hourly observation has been prepared and edited and should be ready for transmission. This routine report becomes the official hourly observation for the NWS. That’s the METAR you will see in the ForeFlight Mobile app.

It’s important to understand that the age presented in ForeFlight is based on the issuance time in the METAR regardless of when it was disseminated by the ASOS or AWOS station. Once each minute we pull down those latest observations directly from our interface with NOAA, parse them and add them directly into our database. After the METAR was issued, it is not unusual for several minutes to pass before it becomes available to ForeFlight. ForeFlight doesn’t typically receive and ingest the data until 4 or 5 minutes after this issuance time. Therefore, it’s very common that the routine observations will have an age of 4 or 5 minutes when updated. That means it’s quite normal to see an age of 64 or 65 minutes just before it gets refreshed by the latest hourly observation.

metar-refreshed

When a METAR is refreshed in ForeFlight Mobile an age of 4, 5 or 6 minutes is very common. For example, this METAR for Ellington, the METAR was updated 6 minutes ago.

An AWOS, on the other hand, typically issues three routine observations each hour or every 20 minutes. The typical interval is at 15, 35 and 55 minutes past each hour. However, you will find that these times will vary depending on the location. You may even run across some AWOS stations that operate similar to an ASOS, that is, one routine observation an hour.

SPECIs

If the weather is changing rapidly for the better or worse, special observations (SPECIs) are issued in addition to the routine hourly observations and include operationally significant changes to elements like wind direction, wind speed, ceiling height and visibility just to name a few. Given that the ASOS relentlessly measures the weather and could inundate pilots with more frequent special observations than a human observer, the system is purposely throttled to provide SPECIs only at 5-minute intervals. This is to limit the number of observations that can be transmitted during the hour when the weather is changing rapidly. Like the routine observations, SPECIs will also take several minutes to appear in ForeFlight after it is issued.

1-minute weather

Before you depart or when you approach an airport, it’s common to listen to the local weather broadcast over the dedicated ground-to-air frequency. This broadcast is referred to as the 1-minute weather. You can also get the latest weather by calling the stations dedicated telephone number. In either case, this automated weather is often more up to date than what you’d get over ATIS or via ForeFlight. At the moment, ForeFlight only provides the latest official observations that are disseminated in the form of a METAR or SPECI. In other words, we don’t currently provide the 1-minute weather you’d get over the phone or on the radio broadcast.

airport-wx-freq

You can find the frequency and phone number for the local ASOS or AWOS on the Airports view under Weather and Advisory tab.

Of course, all pilots want the latest and greatest information. However, that does not necessarily mean an hourly observation that’s 30 or more minutes old should be considered stale. In fact, if the weather hasn’t undergone an operationally significant change, the latest observation is likely still very representative of the weather at the airport.

Range of usefulness

You can’t talk about age unless you also wrap in a discussion about the range of usefulness of an observation. It’s not unusual for many pilots to assume that a particular observation is useful as far as 20 or more miles from the airport. That may be the case when the weather is fairly homogeneous across a large region. But in most situations, making that assumption can get you into trouble.

These official surface observations are taken to be representative of the weather within the terminal area. The terminal area is defined as the circular region within 5 statute miles from the center of the airport’s runway complex. In other words, they are point observations. Notice in the table below that many of the parameters reported in a METAR are valid only within 1 to 3 miles of the airport. So there are no guarantees that the weather is similar to what’s shown in the observation as you get outside of the terminal area.

table-validity-asos

This table defines the representative range from the airport of the various weather elements provided by the observing system.

So the next time you look at the age of latest surface observation don’t discount its operational value. When the weather isn’t changing all that rapidly, a single update each hour will be the normal case for many reporting stations throughout the world.