ForeFlight 8.2.3 Now Available on the App Store

ForeFlight version 8.2.3 corrects an issue with tail number checking that blocked filing with aircraft profiles set up using call signs rather than N-numbers. As always, we’re on frequency at team@foreflight.com if you experience any issues with the update.

ForeFlight 8.2 includes more data for 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.

How To Export User Waypoints From ForeFlight

Did you know that you can export your user waypoints from ForeFlight and share them with others? When viewing your user waypoints in More > User Waypoints, tap the Send To button in the list’s footer and tap Mail. This action creates an email and automatically attaches a .kml file containing your waypoints. You can also email it to yourself to keep as a backup or to import the file into third-party apps and software.

You’ll need to have an email account set up using Apple Mail on your device for the Mail option to appear. To do this, open the iOS Settings app, go to Mail > Accounts, and follow the prompts.

Export User Waypoints from ForeFlight

Tap the Send To button to create an email with a .kml file attached.

If you receive an email with another pilot’s user waypoints, you can easily import them into ForeFlight directly from the Apple Mail app. Just tap-hold on the attached file (named “user-waypoints.kml”) and tap “Copy to ForeFlight” in the popup. Doing this will open ForeFlight and automatically import the user waypoints. You can also bulk import user waypoints into ForeFlight using iTunes, and we have instructions on how to do that here.

Tap-hold on the attachment to load the waypoints into ForeFlight

Tap-hold on the attachment to load the waypoints into ForeFlight.

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.

‘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.

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

Featured

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.

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.

ForeFlight Documents Deliver FAR More Value To Flight Departments

ForeFlight’s built-in Documents catalog provides you with our complete library of always-current ForeFlight user guides, as well as an extensive library of up-to-date publications issued by the FAA. Chart supplements and legends, FAA handbooks, and Federal Aviation Regulations are all at your fingertips and included with your ForeFlight subscription. We recently expanded ForeFlight Documents to include more FARs that your flight crews will find as useful references:

  • FAR Part 119 Certification: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators
  • FAR Part 120 Drug & Alcohol Testing Program
  • CFR 49 Part 175 Carriage by Aircraft and Hazardous Materials 

2016-10_docs_blog

“Having the FAA documents right in the app is very convenient. Plus the ability to text search, annotate and add personal bookmarks makes it easy to use. Also very important to us is the automatic updating of the documents. It takes away a lot of stress monitoring the FAA documents for currency.” –Daniel Thornton, Millbrook Aviation

These additions join our comprehensive list of FARs already in the Documents catalog, including:

  • Part 23 – Airworthiness Standards
  • Part 43 – Maintenance
  • Part 91 – General Operating and Flight Rules
  • Part 121 – Operating Requirements
  • Part 135 – Operating Requirements

ForeFlight’s Business Pro plan for flight departments includes the built-in Documents catalog, as well as the ability to add secure cloud-based document distribution of your company pubs. ForeFlight Cloud Documents gives you a fast, easy, affordable way to distribute company documents to every flight crew member. Your administrator can control the distribution of every new or revised flight manual, operating handbook, or special procedures to every pilot’s iPad delivered from the cloud of your choice: Dropbox, Box, or Amazon S3.

Learn more about ForeFlight for Business Aviation here: foreflight.com/business

If you are interested in making ForeFlight a part of your Electronic Flight Bag program, we’d love to chat! Contact sales@foreflight.com or visit foreflight.com/approved.

Why Use Convective Outlooks?

Perhaps one of the most underutilized weather products shown on the ForeFlight Map view are the yellow-shaded polygons called convective outlooks. On any given eight-hour shift, they are issued hourly by a highly trained meteorologist at the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) in Kansas City. In fact, convective SIGMETs shown by a red-shaded polygon are also issued by this same forecaster.

wst-outlooks

Convective outlooks, shown in yellow, can be displayed by picking the AIR/SIGMET/CWAs menu selection. Tapping on the TS button will display all convective SIGMETs as well as any convective outlooks.

Let’s start with convective SIGMETs

Convective SIGMETs (WSTs) define regions of airspace with active areas of thunderstorms that meet specific criteria. The important word here is active. In other words, convective SIGMETs represent more of a NOWcast for thunderstorms than a forecast. Here’s the way it works. Each and every hour the convective SIGMET forecaster at the AWC looks for thunderstorms throughout the lower 48 United States and coastal waters that meet specific criteria. A single cell pulse thunderstorm isn’t necessarily hazardous as long as you don’t fly through the same airspace that it occupies. However, when thunderstorms form long lines, are clustered close together in widespread areas, are embedded or severe, they become more of a threat to aviation and the forecaster will issue a convective SIGMET for those areas of thunderstorms at 55 minutes past each hour.

wst-siriusxm

A convective SIGMET outlined in red for a line of embedded thunderstorms as depicted from the SiriusXM satellite weather broadcast.

Despite the fact that convective SIGMETs are valid for two hours when issued, the following hour the forecaster will once again evaluate the convective threat and issue a new round of convective SIGMETs. Each new issuance at 55 minutes past the hour will supersede the previous set of convective SIGMETs. Effectively, no convective SIGMET will ever exist for two hours.

This is not to say that you must fly around convective SIGMET areas. For a convective SIGMET to be issued, the area of convection must contain significant radar echoes that fill a minimum of 40% of the area at least 3,000 square miles or 40% of a line of at least 60 miles in length. This leaves a fair amount of airspace to navigate through some convective SIGMET areas.

What about convective outlooks?

First, they are not “outlook SIGMETs” as I’ve seen them called. In fact, they are not SIGMETs at all. Unlike convective SIGMETs, convective outlooks are truly forecasts; there isn’t a requirement that active thunderstorms exist when they are issued. Instead, they define larger regions of airspace that are expected to contain thunderstorms that meet convective SIGMET criteria in the next two to six hours after the outlook was issued. These may include ongoing areas or lines of convection covered by a convective SIGMET or they may include new areas or lines of thunderstorms that are expected to develop and reach convective SIGMET criteria in the two to six hours valid period.

wst-outlook

A convective outlook is outlined in yellow. This shows the region where convective SIGMETs are likely to be issued within the next two to six hours. The text of the outlook provides the effective time.

That two to six hour window is a perfect “sweet spot” for many of us making flights. There may not be any thunderstorms when you go to depart, but if your proposed route takes you through one of these convective outlook areas in the valid time specified you may see one or more convective SIGMETs issued within this outlook area during your flight.

outlook-with-cwa

When convection doesn’t quite meet convective SIGMET criteria you may still see a Center Weather Advisory (CWA) issued for thunderstorms as shown in this image. CWAs are issued by meteorologists at the Center Weather Service Units and coordinated with forecasters at the Aviation Weather Center.

What about ADS-B or SiriusXM?

At the moment, convective outlooks are not broadcast over the ADS-B ground stations and are not part of the SiriusXM satellite weather broadcast. In ForeFlight, we attempt to preserve the latest convective outlooks until they expire six hours later. So be sure to use the Pack feature of ForeFlight prior to departure.