New Cuba Routes Effective October 12

Miami ARTCC and Havana ACC have cooperated to revise the existing routes between Florida and Cuba in an effort to improve efficiency and safety. The most significant change is the removal of the G448 airway, which until now has been the primary route between Miami ARTCC and Havana ACC. Replacing it are two RNAV airways: Y442 (southbound only) and Y183 (northbound only).The new RNAV routes will replace the existing G448 airway.

Accompanying these changes are modifications to overflight routes and existing Cuba SIDs and STARs. If you frequently fly this corridor or plan to in the future, we recommend you download and review the full presentation from Miami ARTCC (linked here) to familiarize yourself with the changes, which went into effect at 0400Z on October 12, 2017.

New Atlanta STARs Published

The FAA is publishing ten new RNAV STARs for the Atlanta Metroplex, eight for KATL and two for nearby satellite airports, to replace existing procedures. All ten of the new STARs will appear in ForeFlight as part of the October 12 chart data cycle, however, the eight KATL STARs will not become active until the 17th. Attempting to file with those procedures before the 17th will likely result in a rejection from ATC, so you should wait until after the 17th to file them as part of a flight plan. You can begin filing with the two satellite STARs on the October 12 effective date.

These are the eight new KATL STARs and the existing procedures that they are replacing (the last four are our favorites):

The new STARs for KATL will become active on October 17.

These are the two new satellite STARs and the existing procedures that they are replacing:

The new Atlanta satellite STARs became active on October 12.

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 The FAA has not officially rescinded its advisory and NOTAMs regarding the tests are still in effect.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.

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.

World Aeronautical Charts Added to ForeFlight Web

We recently added several World Aeronautical Charts (WACs) to the VFR map layer on ForeFlight Web, increasing chart coverage to include the Caribbean. The CJ-26, CJ-27, and parts of CH-25 WACs now provide chart coverage beyond the VFR Sectionals.

You can now plan routes to the Caribbean in ForeFlight Web

Don’t forget that the FAA will be replacing WACs with VFR Sectionals over the next year (see our blog post from January for details). The WACs covering the Caribbean will expire in February and March of 2017, however the new VFR Sectionals for that area will be introduced before the expiration dates, ensuring continuous VFR chart coverage.

The FAA’s New Open Data Initiatve

Last week the FAA launched the External Data Access Initiative and held the first industry forum to start a discussion about industry wants and needs. This is an important milestone, and I am happy that we at ForeFlight played a role in its development.

Over the past two years, and via our involvement in GAMA and our FAA and industry relationships, we have had the opportunity to present our vision for an “Open Source FAA” to FAA leadership. What I believed is that by opening access to data – and where possible computer source code such as the FAA’s ERAM and other systems – innovations will follow and ultimately create new business opportunities for entrepreneurs and a more efficient FAA. We are excited to see this initiative launched.

We encourage others to participate in the FAA forums and provide feedback. The FAA website for the External Data Access Initiative is here.


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.

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.

New SIDs Published for KATL

The FAA recently approved a set of new departure procedures for KATL, and we included these in ForeFlight’s most recent data cycle update. The new SIDs are designed to make use of existing Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) technology, and will fully replace 16 of the current SIDs later this year. For now, however, these new SIDs are only to be assigned by ATC; flights out of Atlanta should continue to be filed with the current SIDs until the implementation is completed. A NOTAM to this effect has been published for KATL.

The new SIDs will fully replace the current ones later this year

In addition to these replacement SIDs, a new WIGLE1 SID was published for use during special events, and is also ATC assigned only.

A flight plan using one of the new SIDs may be accepted by ForeFlight, but will likely be rejected once it reaches the ATC computer, and even if accepted, will only cause coordination problems for both ATC and the pilot, so be sure to review the NOTAM before filing so you don’t accidentally use the wrong SID and have your clearance rejected. Of course, if ATC assigns you one of the new SIDs, you can use ForeFlight’s Procedure Advisor to load the route information onto the Maps view.

FAA Releases Advisory Ahead of Super Bowl 50

In preparation for the large amount of air traffic expected around San Francisco before and after Super Bowl 50 this Sunday, the FAA has released a set of guidelines for aircraft operating in the area. These include a requirement that pilots obtain ramp reservations at numerous nearby airports, as well as restrictions on what routes can be filed to or from those airports.

The notice from the FAA can be found in Documents > Catalog > FAA

For your convenience, the latest data release includes a document detailing these guidelines, which can be found in the FAA section of the ForeFlight Documents Catalog. The document outlines special traffic management procedures, and guidance on the NOTAMs and TFRs that will be in place prior to the event. This information can also be found online at the FAA’s website. We encourage any pilots who plan to fly in or out of Northern California over the next week to review this information before planning a flight.