FAA Advisory: GPS Interference Testing

UPDATE June 10, 2016: The AOPA reports that the Navy has decided to cancel the planned GPS interference tests that the FAA previously announced. While this news is promising, pilots should continue to follow the official guidance and plan accordingly. The FAA has not officially rescinded its advisory and NOTAMs regarding the tests are still in effect.

ORIGINAL POST June 8, 2016: The FAA has issued a notice advising of GPS interference testing this month that may cause GPS to become unreliable or unavailable for aircraft operating in parts of the southwestern US and on the West coast. The testing will be centered about 60 nm southwest of the BTY VOR in Nevada, with disruption of GPS possible within a radius of 253 nm for aircraft at 500′ AGL, up to a radius of 476 nm for aircraft at FL400 and above.

The radius of possible GPS disruption will expand with greater altitude.

Testing will be conducted between 1630Z and 2230Z on the following dates: June 7, June 9, June 21, June 23, June 28, and June 30. ARTCC NOTAMs regarding the testing have been published for much of the western US, and can be found in ForeFlight under the ARTCC tab when viewing an airport’s NOTAMs.

While noting that all aircraft that rely on GPS may be affected by the testing, the advisory specifically recommends that pilots of Embraer Phenom 300 jets avoid the area entirely, stating that the testing (and resultant disruption of GPS) may affect those aircraft’s flight stability controls.

We urge any pilots flying in the affected area to adequately plan and prepare for the disruption or total loss of GPS service during the dates and times specified. Even without GPS, ForeFlight provides essential tools for navigating in the air, including aeronautical charts and plates downloads, weather and NOTAM data from Pack, and the Maps Ruler for measuring distances and radials.

6 Reasons To Go Digital with ForeFlight’s Integrated Logbook

In the May/June 2016 issue of the FAA Safety Briefing, an article by Susan Parson caught our eye. In “eLogbook Logistics: Considerations for Moving from Paper Log to Digital Login” Susan reviews the present state of electronic pilot logbooks and suggests some important things to consider when making the switch from paper. Her suggestions include common sense issues like data security and ease of use, but also more nuanced considerations such as the sentimental value of a logbook.

Below are six ways that ForeFlight’s digital pilot logbook meets (and exceeds!) some of the considerations that Susan outlines:

Generic endorsement text can be selected from a list.Electronic signatures: ForeFlight Logbook allows flight instructors to sign off on students’ flights, and also provides a wide range of pre-written endorsements for instructors to select and sign. Adding a signature locks the entry or endorsement from editing by the student – an important security benefit over paper logbooks.

Easy data entry: Entering flight data line by line would be easy enough in Logbook, which has “smart” tools and options that help you conserve keystrokes – but thanks to its integration with Track Logs, you don’t even have to do that! Fields like departure and destination airports, flight time, and distance are auto-filled based on the recorded Track Log, allowing you to simply review and approve the new entry.

Generating reports: Susan mentions the pain of sifting through line after line of paper entries gathering data for a Form 8710 Application for Airman’s Certificate or Rating – a task that takes only a few taps in ForeFlight Logbook. The app compiles and exports all the data needed for a Form 8710 in exactly the layout provided on the official form. General pilot experience reports for different date ranges can also be generated and exported to email or print.

Generate filled 8710 reports and export the to email or print

Secure backup and export: As part of the company’s cloud data ecosystem, Logbook is automatically backed up to ForeFlight’s secure servers, keeping your flight data safe. Furthermore, you can export your data to a CSV file from ForeFlight Web, allowing you to keep your own backup on a computer or in another cloud account, as Susan does.

Accessibility: A second benefit of saving your logbook in the ForeFlight Cloud is being able to access it anywhere, anytime, from any of your iOS devices with ForeFlight installed. Should you find yourself without access to the app itself, you can also access your data in ForeFlight Web, which supports nearly every modern web browser.

Preserve memories: A logbook’s ability to evoke rich and powerful memories is arguably as valuable to a pilot as its primary role of logging flights. ForeFlight Logbook strives to maintain this ability with photo attachments. You can add unlimited photos to flight entries, aircraft profiles, certificates, and endorsements, all of which are saved with the rest of your data in the ForeFlight Cloud, and are accessible from any of your devices.

Record your flights with photo memories

We thank Susan for her thoughtful and informative article. We’ll continue to raise the bar with ForeFlight Logbook to make flight logging more efficient and more enjoyable for pilots. You can learn more about ForeFlight Logbook here.

Expanded Airport Information in ForeFlight Web

We’ve recently added some new features to ForeFlight Web that enhance its usefulness for flight planning. The airport popup now closely mirrors the airport popup in the ForeFlight Mobile Maps view, including tabs along the bottom for general airport information, the current METAR, forecast products, and winds aloft.

Tap on a weather marker to access diverse information about an airport

Use the buttons along the bottom of the popup to view information about an airport, forecasts, and winds aloft.

From the Info tab you can find lists of frequencies, runway information (including wind components), and links to taxi charts and procedure plates that can be viewed directly in your browser. Links to outside resources like Google Maps and flight tracking through FlightAware are also available. The forecast tab includes TAFs, MOS, and recent area forecast discussions. All this information can be accessed simply by clicking on a weather overlay marker for an airport, or by searching for that airport in the Search bar.

The airport popup also includes an Add to Route button for easy “click planning”. With departure and destination points entered into your Navlog, you can then click on the route line to rubber-band it to intermediate waypoints and airports, just like touch planning in the ForeFlight app.

Click and drag your route line to add intermediate airports and waypoints

Intermediate waypoints can be added to your route just like in the app – drag your route line to the desired location, then drop it and select an item from the list.

After building your route on ForeFlight web, it automatically syncs to the app on your iPad and iPhone. You can find the route in ForeFlight Mobile in the Recent routes list, or in Favorites if you saved the route.

Notice of FAA Charting Error: SAKES and J100 Affected

For the May 26 chart update, the FAA reported a charting error for the SAKES waypoint in Utah. The error unintentionally removed SAKES from the J100 airway. The error will take effect with the May 26th chart update, after which any flight plans filed that combine J100 and SAKES will be rejected. The J80 and Q70 airways, which also include SAKES, will not be affected.

The FAA will correct the error with the July 21st chart update, but until then minor flight plan adjustments will need to be made to avoid having certain flight plans rejected. The table below lists a number of recently filed routes involving J100 and SAKES, along with the correction to file successfully.

Routes that combine J100 and SAKES will require corrections to be filed successfully

Click to view full image.

ForeFlight Establishes TFR Desk to Ensure Accurate Depiction of Graphical TFR Information

We are excited to share that ForeFlight’s development team recently deployed technology that can recognize missing or corrupted graphical TFRs that are delivered via the NOTAM system. The new tool alerts ForeFlight’s TFR Desk team members, who then take immediate action to correct the TFR graphic and distribute it quickly to ForeFlight customers.

ForeFlight with graphical TFR

As a pilot, you rely on web, mobile, and data-link apps and services to display accurate and up-to-date TFR information. And, as Tyson Weihs, ForeFlight’s co-founder and CEO, explains: “From time-to-time, the NOTAM system publishes TFRs without the shape information necessary to depict them. We built the monitoring systems and established the TFR Desk so that pilots can have the highest-quality TFR information as quickly as possible. TFR incursions are still an important issue for the aviation community, and we are doing our part to help.”

In addition to identifying and creating or correcting TFR information, ForeFlight notifies the AOPA’s regulatory affairs team of the discrepancy, who then works with the FAA to correct the information in the NOTAM system. These corrections then make their way back to users via other channels, such as the ADS-B data link system.

The team will continue to improve the tool’s capability to also recognize misshapen TFR files. This effort helps us to quickly distribute the most accurate information and minimize the risk that a pilot will violate a TFR area.

New Canadian and International NOTAMs Available in ForeFlight

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.

Canadian NOTAMs now included all NOTAMs provided listed NavCanada's website

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.

New NOTAMs are also available for many international airports

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.

6 Great Reasons to File in ForeFlight

The File & Brief view is full of great features to get you to the runway fasterWhen was the last time you filed a flight plan using ForeFlight? For some of you the answer may be “10 minutes ago”, and for others it may be “You can file in ForeFlight?” Regardless of how many times you’ve tapped the File & Brief tab, or how you currently file, filing in ForeFlight has many great features that will get you to the runway faster and with maximum preparation for the flight ahead. Here are six of the most compelling reasons to start using ForeFlight as your all-in-one flight plan filing solution today.

Smart Flight Plan Form Entry

ForeFlight’s File & Brief view makes completing a flight plan form as simple as a few taps: copy your route details from the Maps view using the Send To button, then set the departure time and tap File. Integrating with the flight planning engine saves you the time and effort (and possible mistakes) of re-entering flight details in the form, especially IFR flight plans with lots of airways and waypoints.

The File & Brief view makes flight plan entry as easy as a few tapsSmart flight plan form entry shines when you file with the ICAO flight plan form, soon to be required for all VFR and IFR flights in the US. You don’t have to keep track of the difficult formatting rules, as ForeFlight automatically handles this for you.

You can amend a filed flight plan in the same form that you originally entered it inAmend / Cancel / Activate

You’ll never have to call flight service again to amend, cancel, or activate a flight plan, as you can accomplish all of these things right from the File & Brief view. To change a filed flight plan, tap Amend, edit your flight information, then tap File Changes. Flight plans can also be cancelled or activated with a tap of a button. ForeFlight gives you the tools to take control of your flight plan without delays.

Automatic Flight Notifications

ForeFlight will notify you of weather and NOTAM changes along your routeOnce you’ve filed your flight plan, weather conditions and NOTAMs can change, sometimes significantly enough to affect your go/no-go decision. ForeFlight will notify you when changes occur with the Flight Notifications feature, available with Pro and Pro Plus subscriptions. Flight Notifications provide text and graphical depictions of AIR/SIGMETs, TFRs, NOTAMs, urgent PIREPs, and more. ForeFlight begins monitoring your filed route for changes two hours prior to your scheduled departure time, and notifies you of the changes with a red badge on the File & Brief tab and a prominent banner at the top of the view.

Flight Notifications include both text and graphical representationsWith IFR flight plans, ForeFlight will also notify you when ATC issues an expected route or acknowledgment for your flight plan. These are sent by the ForeFlight servers directly to your device, even when the ForeFlight app is closed.

Graphical Briefing

ForeFlight’s Graphical Briefing delivers the next generation of preflight briefing, with translated information presented in a visually elegant design to enhance readability. It has all the elements of a standard preflight briefing, including AIR/SIGMETs, TFRs, NOTAMs, forecasts, current conditions, and more, without the tedium of page-after-page of coded text. The briefing serves as the perfect complement to the simplicity and ease that characterizes the rest of ForeFlight’s filing process.

ForeFlight Graphical Briefing delivers translated and visual information for enhanced readability

Cloud Protection

Your flight plans and briefings are stored in the cloud in case you ever need themEvery flight plan you file and briefing you retrieve are saved securely both on your device and in the ForeFlight Cloud. This is important for more than just record-keeping — if you ever have to prove that you obtained weather and pertinent NOTAMs in compliant manner with 14 CFR 91.103(a) preflight action, your briefing will be available and timestamped to provide this proof.

Consolidate Your Resources

While all the features listed above are great on their own, perhaps the best reason to file with ForeFlight is that they’re all available in one place, building on each other to provide the smoothest filing experience. Consolidating your flight planning, filing, and flying resources into a single location guarantees maximum efficiency, a sentiment we have heard from many of our customers in Part 135 operations, where efficiency is required to stay in the game.

You can get the details of filing in ForeFlight in the Pilot’s Guide to ForeFlight Mobile, or in the Filing with ForeFlight Mobile guide, which focuses on ICAO flight plan filing.

FAA to Begin Decommissioning VORs This Year

As part of the NextGen initiative to adopt a Performance Based Navigation (PBN) airway structure supported by GPS, the FAA is moving forward with plans to decommission approximately 30% of currently operating domestic VORs over the next 10 years. The VORs left behind will constitute a minimum operational network, intended to support conventional navigation in the event of a GPS outage, while not tying up resources maintaining unnecessary and underused VORs. The decommission process will take place in two phases, with the first phase lasting from 2016 to 2020, and the second phase lasting from 2021 to 2025.

Although the FAA has not released specific dates for when each VOR will be decommissioned, they have provided a list of the first 35 VORs that have been approved for decommissioning, and in what phase of the project each will be removed.

The removal of these VORs will have a large effect on the domestic airway structure and instrument procedures at many airports, and these changes will be reflected in the charts and data available in ForeFlight. Therefore we will continue to track this process and update you when specific dates are announced for each VOR.

Garmin Unveils New ForeFlight-Compatible ADS-B Transponders

ForeFlight connectivity with GTX345

Garmin announced today the release of two new options to help you meet the 2020 ADS-B Out mandate. The GTX 345 and GTX 335 all-in-one transponders are compatible with ForeFlight and, depending on the model you choose, wirelessly deliver (via Bluetooth) FIS-B weather, ADS-B traffic, GPS position, and attitude information to your mobile device.

We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Garmin and to offer ForeFlight customers flying with Garmin hardware the opportunity to unlock more value from their avionics investment and gain access to connectivity options that enhance the ForeFlight experience.

Visit foreflight.com/connect to learn about all of the ForeFlight connectivity partnerships.

Domestic Flight Plan Form to be Discontinued This Year

Last year the FAA announced plans to remove support for the familiar domestic flight plan form that most pilots use for filing within the US. The move will require all civil aircraft to file both VFR and IFR flight plans using the ICAO format. The transition is currently slated to occur October 1st of this year (see page 2 of the linked newsletter).

Although it’s a few months away, we encourage you to take time now to become familiar with the ICAO format. When October comes, you’ll be ready! ForeFlight makes it easy as the app already supports ICAO. All you need to do is fill in a few additional fields on your aircraft profile. This four-minute video walks you through how to do that.

For a more in-depth view of ICAO codes, Field 18, and other helpful ICAO flight plan fields, dive into Filing ICAO Flight Plans in ForeFlight written by John Collins, ForeFlight consultant and aviation writer.

Our “Filing with ForeFlight Mobile” guide is also available in the ForeFlight app under Documents > Catalog > ForeFlight or on the web here. Official FAA guidance on ICAO filing is available here and here.