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.
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”).
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).”
When 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.
Smart 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.
Amend / 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
Once 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.
With 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.
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.
Every 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.
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.
With the removal of the FAA domestic flight plan format coming soon, all pilots currently filing both VFR and IFR domestic flights will need to switch to the ICAO format.
In this article, I recommend some simple tips that make it easy for someone who currently files with the domestic format to switch to the ICAO format. My main suggestion here is that you only file what is actually needed and can affect a clearance or availability of an ATC service in the US. Essentially, this approach allows you to replicate the clearances you would receive when using the domestic format.
If you currently use ForeFlight to file flight plans using the domestic flight plan format, there are just a few simple steps to get set up to file ICAO. The first is to set up the ICAO-specific codes for your aircraft. Navigate to your aircraft list in More > Aircraft and tap on the aircraft you want to edit, then scroll down to the Filing section. The three fields you need to set up at a minimum are:
ICAO Wake Category
The Wake Category is the easiest to set up because the default value of ‘L’ fits the majority of GA aircraft. You would only change this if the max gross weight of your aircraft exceeds 15,500 pounds.
Next, let’s look at equipment codes. The three most common FAA/Domestic Equipment codes are:
/G (GPS and mode C transponder),
/A (DME and Mode C transponder), and
/U (No DME and a Mode C transponder).
Tap ICAO Equipment to view the list of codes. ICAO equipment codes are more specific and many types of equipment have their own code. Since almost all aircraft have VOR, localizer capability (ILS), and a VHF COM, a standard code of ‘S’ is used to specify the combination of this equipment. Pretty much every aircraft is going to select ‘S’. If for some reason your aircraft does not have one of the standard avionics systems, then you can specify the individual codes for what you do have instead of using S. For example, select ‘O’ if you have a VOR, ‘L’ if you have an ILS or localizer, and ‘V’ if you have a VHF COM radio.
Other codes that are common in GA aircraft are ‘G’ for GPS, ‘D’ for DME, and ‘F’ for an ADF. Some aircraft will have a WAAS GPS and are capable of flying LPV approaches, so can also specify ‘B’ for LPV. There are many codes you can specify if you have the equipment, but to keep things simple I only specify something if it makes a difference. In line with that, my advice for an aircraft that is currently filing with domestic code /G is to specify ICAO equipment codes ‘G,S’. If you currently file domestic code /U, then ICAO equipment ‘S’ is all you need. If you currently file with /A, then specify ICAO equipment ‘D,S’. Feel free to add the B (LPV), D (DME), or F (ADF) if you have the equipment, but they will not make a difference in terms of your flight plan being accepted or ATC providing a service.
Next, tap ICAO Surveillance to select the transponder type. Assuming you have a transponder with an altitude encoder, you can specify ‘C’. If it is of the mode S variety, you can change that to ‘S’, but it will not make any difference in your ability to file or use the ATC system, so specifying ‘C’ is the simplest way to do it.
That’s all you have to do to set up your aircraft for ICAO filing. You can make ICAO the default flight plan format by going to More > Settings, scrolling down to the File & Brief section, tapping ‘New Plan Format’ and selecting ICAO.
Now you can move to the Flights view to enter your flight plan, or set it up in the Maps view and use the Send To > Flights button at the bottom right of the Flight Plan Editor to send the route to the Flights view. Tap “Proceed to File” at the bottom of the Flights view when you’re ready to move to the filing form. Before you hit the ‘File’ button, here are a few additional considerations when entering information about your flight using the ICAO format.
In the AIM and other documents, you will read about the need to specify certain information in Field 18 – Other Information. ForeFlight automatically fills out this field for you based on flight plan and aircraft data. This ensures the formatting is correct for what ATC expects. Even so, there are some considerations to take into account regarding Field 18 that can ensure your flight plans are filed as efficiently as possible.
The FAA guidance on filing ICAO states that if the airport identifier is not a four character ICAO identifier, then “ZZZZ” needs to be placed in the departure and/or destination airport fields of the flight plan, and the non-ICAO identifier must be specified in Field 18 preceded by “DEP/” for the departure airport and “DEST/” for the destination airport. You don’t need to worry about this with ForeFlight as it does all this for you automatically. All ICAO identifiers consist of 4 alphabetic characters, and in the US they start with the letter K, in Canada with C, in the Bahamas with MY, and in Mexico with MM. Examples of non-ICAO identifiers are 60J, 35A, K60J, and SFO. Remember that SFO is not the ICAO format for San Francisco International, KSFO is the correct code. Either SFO or KSFO will work, but if you use the three letter identifier form, then ForeFlight will place “ZZZZ” in the departure or destination field and DEP/SFO or DEST/SFO into Field 18, although you won’t see these changes in the app itself. This plan will be accepted, but it is wasteful. In other words, specify the destination and departure airport identifier as a four character ICAO code whenever you can.
ICAO flight plans provide an ability to enter primary and secondary alternate airports. In the US, only a single alternate needs to be supplied on IFR flight plans that require one.
If you use the remarks field for domestic flight plans, with ICAO it will be moved to Field 18 automatically and follow the REM/ keyword. So there is no real difference in how remarks are specified, with one caveat. These special characters may not be used in ICAO remarks: the forward slash “/”, the dash “-“, and the left and right parentheses “(” and “)”.
The ICAO format also allows you to add specifications for emergency equipment such as dinghies, their capacity, their color, and if they are covered. Life jackets, portable radios, types of survival equipment, and any survival equipment remarks that you would wish search and rescue to be aware of can also be specified. Again, the remarks can’t include the special characters “/ – ( )”.
Finally, if your flight qualifies for special handling, you can optionally specify it on the ICAO form in the STS Special Handling field. A few that may be of interest are: FFR for firefighting, HOSP for medical flights, HUM for humanitarian flights, and SAR for search and rescue. Any special handling codes will automatically be included in Field 18 and formatted as required.
Although the final switch to ICAO filing is still months away, I recommend you try this now so you can work out any kinks and get a feel for the format. As you become more familiar with ICAO flight plans, you can refine your profile information; but in the meantime, you should have no hassle using the tips outlined here. Happy filing!
The second phase of our ForeFlight Connect integration with Garmin avionics is complete and you can now seamlessly transfer your flight plan between ForeFlight Mobile and Garmin GTN and GNS navigators when connected via the Garmin Flight Stream 210, Garmin’s Bluetooth wireless gateway, making everything from pre-flight planning to inflight re-routing easier and faster.
Get in the Air Faster
ForeFlight pilots can load a simple route, as well as approaches, SIDs, STARs, routes with airways, and search and rescue patterns. ForeFlight Mobile also receives route changes you make on the Garmin navigator, keeping your panel and iOS device in sync.
Coupled with ForeFlight Web, connectivity with your Garmin panel creates a true web-to-panel flight planning experience. Plan your day’s flight from the comfort of your desktop web browser and then ForeFlight’s secure, cloud-based Sync system sends your web planning activity to your iPad. The seamless handoff allows you to pick up and finish your plan on the iPad and send it to your panel. In the air, the combination of ForeFlight and Flight Stream enables you—or your co-pilot—to quickly set up and program a new route if you need to divert.
ForeFlight Mobile has coded procedures, so creating complex routes with SID, STAR, and approach waypoints is easy and intuitive using Procedure Preview. The flight plan transfer capability with Garmin means that you don’t have to waste time rebuilding that route in the navigator—sitting in the airplane, on the ground, engine running.
(click to enlarge)
Another example of how ForeFlight Mobile and Garmin flight plan transfer combine to make pilot life easier is to file your flight plan from the app. If you are a ForeFlight Mobile Pro customer, we push expected route notifications to your device. With a tap, load expected route changes into your Navlog, re-file the amendment from ForeFlight Mobile, and then at the airplane send your expected route to your panel before taking off.
Getting in the air faster is also mission critical to search and rescue operations. ForeFlight Mobile’s Procedure Preview is a time-saving tool for building search and rescue patterns. Use ForeFlight’s wireless sharing capability or email to share and brief the plan with other members of the search team and then quickly transfer the route plan, with the SAR pattern, into your Garmin navigator.
The Flight Stream 210’s built-in AHRS also provides pitch and bank information for ForeFlight’s Synthetic Vision and backup attitude displays, and a connected GDL 84/88 rounds out the experience by delivering ADS-B traffic and weather information to your iPad display.
How It Works
Simply pair your iPad or iPhone via Bluetooth to Garmin Flight Stream:
Tap the ‘Panel’ button at the top of the Maps view and then tap ‘Send to Panel’. This sends the route currently displayed in the Navlog to your Garmin navigator.
To manually pull an updated or new route from your Garmin navigator, select ‘Load from Panel’. The ‘Auto-Receive from Panel’ setting automatically sends a notification when changes are made in the navigator, allowing you to keep your panel avionics and mobile app on the same page:
You can also see more information by viewing the Connext Status page in More > Devices:
In a bona fide blizzard you would certainly expect to see a fair amount of blowing snow, right? Well, take a look at the conditions for these three airports at the height of the nor’easter that recently pummeled the Northeast with a record snowfall.
In the belly of this storm, these airports observed strong, gusty winds, moderate to heavy snow and even a squall, but no hint of blowing snow (coded as BLSN) in any of these automated reports. This seems rather odd, but an Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) is not designed to report blowing snow in the middle of a blizzard. You read that right; it’s designed to report blowing snow only after the winter storm has departed as seen here for the observation at Worcester, Massachusetts the following morning.
Before an ASOS can report blowing snow (even when blowing snow conditions are detected by the precipitation sensors), all of the following conditions must also be met –
Visibility must be less than 7 statute miles
Ambient temperature must be less than or equal to 14 degrees Fahrenheit
Sky cover must be less than overcast or the ceiling height must be greater than 10,000 feet
Wind speed must be greater than 22 knots.
From the surface observations during the recent blizzard, only two of the four conditions were met, namely, wind speed and visibility. As a result, BLSN wasn’t reported in the automated observation. Keep in mind, at airports or stations with a human observer, the observation may be augmented to include BLSN like it was here for Providence, Rhode Island during the storm.
ForeFlight Mobile’s Pack feature simplifies your 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. ForeFlight Mobile 6.6.1 introduces a refinement to Pack which automatically keeps the most current weather, TFRs, fuel prices, and NOTAMs refreshed and downloaded onto your device during your preparation for flight.
After planning your route, tap the Pack suitcase to ensure you’ve downloaded all the data you will need for the trip:
Tap the Pack suitcase and download the data to initiate the auto-packing feature.
After the initial ‘Pack’ is completed, then Pack will continue to refresh every 30 minutes with the latest METARs, TAFs, AIR/SIGMETs, TFRs, fuel prices, and NOTAMs (based on each of these you have selected to Pack). The automatic refresh only runs while you are connected to the Internet and the app is open, not running in the background. If you leave the app and come back, the weather, TFRs, fuel prices, and NOTAMs will update automatically, without the need to manually tap the Pack suitcase again. This ‘auto-pack’ feature will continue to run for 24 hours or until you change the route. The red badge alert for Pack will then only show if you make significant changes to your route.
There are no settings required to make this work and Pack is available to both Basic and Pro subscribers. We recommend that you tap the Pack suitcase one final time before leaving your Internet connection prior to flight. When you see the All Packed! message, you’re ready to fly:
A final check on Pack: All Packed! means you are ready to fly.
ForeFlight Mobile Version 6.6.1 Is Available On The App Store
ForeFlight Mobile version 6.6.1 is a free download for subscribers via the the App Store. For additional information, be sure to review our Pilot’s Guide. You can also download the Pilot’s Guide onto your device using the built-in catalog in the Documents view.
ForeFlight Mobile 5.6 is now available for download at App Store. The highlights of this update include enhanced flight plan filing options – including ICAO flight plan form support – as well as complete worldwide coverage for military pilots and all supplemental DOD/DFLIP/DAFIF data.
ForeFlight Mobile 5.6 requires iOS 6 or later.
Filing Smarter with ForeFlight Mobile and Lockheed Martin AFSS
We are always looking for ways to make you more productive and efficient during every flight, and modernized briefings and flight plan filing is an important goal of ours this year. With this update we continue to build a foundation that streamlines those activities.
ForeFlight now primarily files flight plans directly via the modernized Lockheed Martin Flight Services AFSS interfaces (we also continue to file via DUATS if that is your preference). One of the benefits when using the AFSS interface is that Flight Service specialists will see flight plan details and can therefore more quickly provide you briefings and open VFR flight plans. Another benefit is faster search and rescue response times in the event they are needed.
Due to FAA policy and technical limitations, when you file flight plans via the DUAT or DUATS systems, flight service is not able to easily obtain that plan information (it may already be ‘gone to Center’ and unavailable). That limitation results in your having to regurgitate your entire flight plan in order to get a briefing or open a VFR flight plan – that is frustrating on the ground, and even more frustrating when airborne, in turbulence, and busy. We worked around the limitation to improve service to ForeFlight customers by collaborating with Lockheed Martin and taking advantage of modernized AFSS interface capabilities.
You don’t need to do anything special to take advantage of the AFSS interfaces. Whether you have entered your DUATS credentials or not, the ForeFlight servers always send a copy of your flight plan to Flight Service whenever you file via ForeFlight Mobile. If you haven’t filed via ForeFlight Mobile before, take it for a spin. When you file with ForeFlight Mobile, you get better Flight Service support, flight alerts, and recorded briefings that prove you comply with Part 91.103.
What’s New in File & Brief
Once you have planned your route using the Airport and Maps view, you are only a few taps away from filing your plan via the app. Simply tap the Send To button on the Nav Log and select File & Brief. Or, go to the File & Brief view and tap “New Flight Plan”. On the flight plan form is a new field labeled ‘Form Type’ that allows you to choose between FAA/Domestic or ICAO flight plan forms.
Choose between FAA/Domestic or ICAO flight plan forms in the File & Brief view.
Besides being immediately integrated with Flight Services, filing directly through ForeFlight gives you digital notifications, aircraft profile management, and stored access to previously filed flight plans. Email notifications from ForeFlight document and timestamp the filing process so you know your request is in the system. You will receive three emails after you Brief then File your plan:
One is a summary and confirmation of your filed flight plan.
The second email contains your weather briefing. This briefing contains much of the same information you would receive calling 800-WX-BRIEF and speaking with a Flight Service Specialist. You can also revisit the briefing anytime within the app by tapping ‘Brief’ in the File & Brief view.
If you filed IFR, you will receive an email alert with your expected route of flight, if available, or a note that an expected route was not received from ATC.
iOS technology also allows us to deliver Flight Alert push notifications directly to all your iPads and iPhones. Flight Alerts notify you when an expected route is issued by ATC. Tap on the notification to automatically update your Nav Log and your in-flight moving map is ready to go with the changes.
Managing your aircraft profile(s) in the app is easy, and once established, your default values are automatically copied into your next flight plan. Previous flight plans may also be stored so you can copy, edit, and re-file without having to start from scratch.
It’s all about refining and streamlining the steps to get you in the air. There is more to come, but it starts with using mobile technology to do more of the work so you can focus on flying the plane.
File ICAO for US Domestic Flights
When flying internationally or crossing foreign airspace (common in the great lakes regions), you must file ICAO flight plans to be compliant with the regulations. However, there are reasons you may be required to file using the ICAO format for US Domestic flights, like Performance Based Navigation, RVSM, or ADS-B.
If you normally file using the FAA/Domestic format, we encourage you to consider the benefits of filing ICAO. The ICAO format collects additional bits of information about your flight and aircraft profile that increase safety and may help with potential search and rescue efforts. If you are flying over remote areas, you can indicate what survival gear or emergency radios you have onboard. Flying over the Great Lakes? You can report details about dinghy equipment.
Note your emergency survival gear onboard
Let flight service know your flight mission
By filing ICAO, you can note special flight status, such as medical flight, medical evacuation, fire-fighting, search and rescue, or humanitarian. Communicating these extra details to Flight Service before you even depart can make your flight handling go more smoothly.
File ICAO for IFR Flights to Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, and Everywhere In Between!
As we expand our geographic coverage, so does our flight plan filing support. Our support for filing ICAO flight plans lets you file IFR flights to and from the US and within Canada, Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico.
File from the US to any country
Complete Worldwide Coverage for Military Flight Bag with DOD Data
ForeFlight Mobile 5.6 introduces the completed worldwide coverage of Department of Defense DFLIP data including: approach plates, enroute charts, and DAFIF nav data. In addition to Central and South America, Pacific, Australasia, and Antarctica, ForeFlight’s Military Flight Bag now offers: Africa, Canada, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and United States.
Military Flight Bag is a service available to military, state and federal agencies, and DOD contractors who have approval to access the Department of Defense Flight Information Publications (FLIP) and who have an active ForeFlight Mobile subscription. For information on adding Military Flight Bag to your ForeFlight subscription, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOD approaches shown for Dublin.
DOD approach plate
Enable Ownship Setting
One final note for our customers with limited approval for use of the Ownship feature, we have modified the “Disable Ownship” setting to “Enable Ownship” and added an option for Ownship location to automatically be shown on the airport diagram when traveling at 40 knots or slower.
Go to Settings to view and select Enable Ownship options.