New: Graphical Route Advisor, Performance-based Step Climb, Flight Notifications, and More

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ForeFlight Mobile version 9.3 is now available on the App Store.

Plan Faster with Graphical Route Advisor

The Route Advisor tool now gives you a visual preview of all route options on an interactive map. Tap through the list to highlight each route on the map, then tap “Select Route” to add it to your flight plan. Simple and easy. The interactive Route Preview map also appears in the Flights view form-based planner to provide a quick visual reference of your route. Your departure and destination airports are shown overlaid on a simple basemap.

Performance-based Step Climb Legs in Navlog

ForeFlight’s performance planning now supports step-climbs. The flight planning engine calculates the highest possible initial altitude, then automatically creates step-climb legs as the aircraft weight decreases. Step-climb information is detailed in the printable Navlog, accessible from the Flights view by tapping the Navlog button. The step climb leg information is available in Performance Plus, Business Performance, and MFB Performance plans.Learn more about ForeFlight Performance planning.

Flight Notifications

After filing your flight plan in ForeFlight, you will receive a push notification to your device when ATC issues a revised expected route and when adverse weather conditions arise that may affect your flight.

Flight Notification adverse weather

Access weather alerts in the Messages tab in the Flights view. Flight Notifications are available to customers on all ForeFlight plan levels who file flight plans via ForeFlight.

 

 

 

Flight Planning Workflow Enhancements

The “Add Next Flight” button in the Flights view makes it faster and easier to plan multi-leg flights by carrying forward departure, aircraft details, payload, fuel policy, and more. In addition, you can now export your flight plan in the official ICAO format and print, email, share via AirDrop, or save a copy in ForeFlight Documents.

Faster, Sharper, Data-Driven Basemap & New Shaded Terrain Display

The ForeFlight map engine has a significantly upgraded basemap, which now renders more quickly, smoothly, and with sharper depiction of features such as major roads, railways, national parks, and state and national boundaries.

In the Map Settings menu, choose from multiple terrain presentations: Colored, Shaded, or None. Shaded Terrain uses grayscale shading to depict terrain, providing the same level of detail as the colored terrain option with less visual distraction.

Scheduled Flight Search in Maps View

Enter a tail number, aircraft call sign, or commercial flight number into the Maps view search box to see recently filed flight plans. ForeFlight displays filed flight plans for aircraft that are either currently enroute or depart in the next 24 hours. Simply tap on a result to load the route into the Flight Plan Editor. Great for commercial pilots who want to quickly load an upcoming flight, or for passengers who want to follow along in the air!

Weather Layer Time Slider

A new interactive Time Slider control provides frame-by-frame control over playback of Radar and Satellite weather layers. Use the familiar play button to automatically play through each frame. To manually control playback, tap-hold on the Time Slider and drag left or right to move between frames, or tap on the line to the left or right of the slider marker to advance it one frame at a time in either direction.

New for SiriusXM SXAR1: Turbulence, Icing, and Surface Analysis Weather Layers

SiriusXM SXAR1 turbulence layerFor customers flying with the SiriusXM SXAR1 aviation receiver, you will now see Icing, Turbulence, and Surface Analysis layers as part of your SiriusXM Pilot for ForeFlight subscription.

For a fast analysis of Icing and Turbulence conditions at each altitude, you can quickly scrub between altitudes using the Altitude Slider in the lower right corner of the Maps view. In addition, the Icing layer is enhanced with small red dots to indicate dangerous regions of supercooled large droplets. Refer to the Pilot’s Guide or the ForeFlight Mobile Legends Guide for more details on interpreting these new weather layers.

Better Logbook Workflow with Next Entry Button

Logbook Add Next Flight

Like the new “Add Next Flight” capability for the Flights view, the “Add Next Entry” button in Logbook allows you to quickly add a follow-up entry for any existing flight in your logbook.

The new entry uses the same aircraft as the previous flight, and auto-fills the departure airport and Hobbs/Tach time based on the details of the previous flight. The button is available at the bottom of every flight entry.

And a Few Updates to ForeFlight on the Web…

We continue to enhance our web planning experience with:

  • Detailed, printable Navlog syncs between web and mobile
  • Improved Navlog interface that expands for better viewing
  • Just like in ForeFlight Mobile, the Add Next Flight button improves multi-leg flight planning
  • Faster radar loading

ForeFlight and Jeppesen Announce Strategic Alliance

We are thrilled and honored to announce this alliance with Jeppesen. It is truly a partnership with purpose that will deliver better solutions for customers, and faster than either company could accomplish on its own. The full media release is available below.

JEPPESEN AND FOREFLIGHT FORM ALLIANCE TO DELIVER INDUSTRY LEADING APPS AND FLIGHT INFORMATION TO PILOTS WORLDWIDE

Together, the companies will set a new standard for innovation, high-quality data, and software applications for pilots and flight operations across the aviation landscape

ALEXANDRIA, VA., May 4, 2017 – Jeppesen, a Boeing Company and a leader in aviation navigation and operational efficiency solutions, and ForeFlight, the innovative provider of mobile and web aviation applications, today announced that the companies have entered into in a long-term strategic alliance to combine their industry-leading capabilities and worldwide content. Together, Jeppesen and ForeFlight will build on their common heritage of delivering superior data and software to pilots and flight operations around the globe.

“We are thrilled to bring together Jeppesen’s world-class aeronautical data with the unmatched advanced technology of ForeFlight,” said Ken Sain, chief operating officer, Jeppesen. “This will create a new benchmark for delivering navigation, flight information and operational solutions with greater regularity and speed for every aviation segment, from recreational pilots to the world’s largest airlines.”

“This strategic alliance will enable ForeFlight and Jeppesen together to bring advances in capability to customers globally that neither company could accomplish on its own,” said Tyson Weihs, co-founder and chief executive officer, ForeFlight. “Both companies share common values and purpose – delivering next generation power and productivity to pilots with superior customer service.”

“We’re excited to bring Jeppesen charts and data to ForeFlight Mobile customers. The combination makes ForeFlight Mobile the premier all-in-one mobile solution for planning, briefing, filing, flying, and logging flights across personal and business aviation. Over the years, many customers have requested Jeppesen charts and data in ForeFlight Mobile, and we’re so pleased that we can now meet that need,” said Weihs.

The alliance focuses initially in two areas. First, beginning this summer, all ForeFlight subscribers will see Jeppesen global navigational, terrain and obstacle data in ForeFlight Mobile. ForeFlight subscribers on individual plans will be able to link their Jeppesen license in ForeFlight Mobile and purchase standard worldwide Jeppesen charts for use inside the app through a simple e-commerce experience on foreflight.com.

General aviation pilots will be able to choose between Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck and ForeFlight Mobile as their preferred cockpit solution. Subscribers to ForeFlight Business Plans will purchase chart coverages through Jeppesen and then link them to their ForeFlight subscription for use inside the ForeFlight Mobile app.

The alliance’s second area of focus serves users of Jeppesen FliteDeck Pro, the leading EFB solution for airlines and large-scale operators. Jeppesen and ForeFlight will work together on a next-generation release of FliteDeck Pro for both iOS and Windows that will deliver a combination of the familiar capabilities in FliteDeck Pro and significant features and functionality from ForeFlight Mobile. The solution will respect the heritage of FliteDeck Pro, while also embracing capabilities from ForeFlight Mobile that many professional pilots already have experience using. Jeppesen and ForeFlight are working together closely with FliteDeck Pro customers in advance of bringing this to market to ensure the training impact is minimized. FliteDeck Pro customers will continue to receive application and content updates from Jeppesen.

This alliance builds upon Jeppesen’s major new release of Jeppesen FliteDeck Pro, which is being deployed worldwide. FliteDeck Pro 3.0 for iOS and 9.0 for Windows includes three major features, SmartNotes which revolutionizes pilot access to charting information relevant to the flight plan, Tailored Enroute Data for customers to add their own company-specific content, and integrated high-resolution Airport Moving Map content for nearly 1,000 airports worldwide.

To view more information on combined Jeppesen and ForeFlight products, please see www.foreflight.com/jeppesen and www.jeppesen.com/foreflight.

New in ForeFlight: Checklist, Glide Advisor™️, Light & Dark App Themes, SiriusXM Audio, and More

ForeFlight 9 is full of features that enhance every phase of flying. Run through checklists with ease and reduce cockpit clutter with ForeFlight Checklist. Glide Advisor™️ helps you locate a safe place to land in the event of engine failure, choose from Light & Dark App Themes for day or night flight, helpful enhancements to Logbook, new SXAR1 integration features, and more. Read on for all the details of the ForeFlight 9 release, now on the App Store!

Consolidate Your Toolset with ForeFlight Checklist

ForeFlight’s integrated checklists keep important safety procedures organized and easily accessible. Your familiar paper checklists are transformed into customizable digital templates allowing you to reduce cockpit clutter and spend less time heads down searching for a particular checklist item. Checklists for every phase of flight are laid out in an interactive, intelligent interface that fits naturally into your flying workflow.

Select from one of the predefined templates derived from aircraft POH manuals or create and edit your own customized collection of checklists. Templates are provided for a variety of fixed-wing and rotorcraft models. A template for the IMSAFE pilot checklist is also available, allowing you to efficiently conduct a personal preflight health assessment.

To run through a checklist, simply tap an item and a green check mark appears. This visual feedback provides an easy way to pick up exactly where you left off with a quick glance. Tap “Skip” to move past an item; this is especially useful if you don’t move through a checklist from A to Z. If you experience an inflight emergency, tap the emergency button to jump immediately to emergency checklist procedures, saving you time and sparing you the hassle of flipping through a stack of paper procedures.

ForeFlight Checklist is a feature of our Basic Plus and Pro Plus subscription plans.

Learn more about ForeFlight Checklist at foreflight.com/checklist.

New Glide Advisor™️ Helps You Quickly Locate a Safe Landing Space

Using terrain, GPS data, winds aloft, and your aircraft’s best glide speed and ratio, ForeFlight shapes a glide range ring around your ownship icon on the moving map display. If you lose engine power, Glide Advisor helps you quickly assess your options. Enable Glide Advisor in the Map Settings menu. To enter your aircraft’s glide ratio and best glide speed, tap the Glide Settings field under Glide Performance. Pro Tip: Pair Glide Advisor with Distance Rings to quickly report your position to ATC. For the ultimate inflight situational awareness experience, combine Glide Advisor with ForeFlight’s Synthetic Vision and Hazard Advisor.

 

glide+SV+dist rings+haz

The Ultimate in Situational Awareness: Glide Advisor, Synthetic Vision, Distance Rings, and Hazard Advisor

 

Reduce Screen Glare with New Dark App Color Theme

We continue to make flying at night easier on your vision with the addition of a new Dark App Color Theme. Turn on the Dark App Color Theme in More > Settings to convert the background color throughout the app from white to dark blue. Important information remains easily visible through the use of highlight colors and prominent white text. Combine the Dark App Color Theme with Color Inversion and a Dark Map Theme for a powerful night setting.

 

color inversion+dark theme 2

A Powerful Night Setting with ForeFlight’s Dark App Color Theme and Color Inversion

 

Logbook Enhancements: Helpful Aircraft List Details and CFI Currency Tracking

When viewing your Aircraft list in Logbook, you will now see details including aircraft make/model, category/class, gear type, and total hours in that aircraft. It’s a helpful design detail that provides more visibility into your logbook data and also makes it easier to select the correct aircraft for your flight entry. Tap on any Aircraft to modify profile information or to view and edit any associated entries.

Logbook’s color-coded recency tracking now includes support for Certified Flight Instructors. To track your CFI currency, enter your instructor certificate number and expiration date in Logbook’s Qualifications section. You can view or edit your instructor certificate at any time by tapping on the summary in the main Logbook view. Recency tracking in ForeFlight Logbook is the fastest way to visually check the status of all of your currencies in a single spot.

Learn more about ForeFlight Logbook at foreflight.com/logbook.

New SiriusXM SXAR1 Features are Music to Your Ears

ForeFlight’s integration with the SXAR1 Aviation Receiver now includes support for streaming SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Pair your Bluetooth headset or audio device (like your aircraft’s built-in Bluetooth audio system) to the SXAR1 and use the ForeFlight interface to browse and select radio stations. The SXAR1 provides audio to one Bluetooth audio device at a time. The video above will get you started with setup.

In addition, SiriusXM’s Surface Wind weather layer is now available. To dive deeper into this new SXAR1 layer, check out this article written by our in-house Weather Scientist, Scott Dennstaedt.

Sfc-Wind-Analysis

Learn more about the SXAR1 and purchase information by visiting foreflight.com/siriusxm.

Create Custom Overlays With New User Map Shapes

Now you can import custom KML files into ForeFlight. KML (Keyhole Markup Language) is a file format used for geographic data that allows you to import shapes such as points, lines, and polygons into ForeFlight’s Maps view. User Map Shapes are more versatile than simple user waypoints, allowing you to designate specific areas on the map for your custom, navigation needs; flight schools or flying clubs can use User Map Shapes to delineate designated training areas or route lines on the map.

Import your KML files into ForeFlight via iTunes sideloading, then display them on the map by enabling them in the layer selector, just like with other map overlays. Watch our video tutorial above to learn more about importing KML files into ForeFlight.

Helpful New Device Disconnect Alert

In a perfect flying world, the wireless connections we use in the cockpit would never experience issues. But whether from a dead battery, connection issues, or human error, both portable and installed equipment can unexpectedly disconnect. ForeFlight’s new Device Disconnect Alert provides a prominent visual and audio alert that allows you to quickly troubleshoot and restore connection or switch to an alternative data source. This helpful new alert monitors both portable and panel-mounted avionics.

You can manage all alerts in ForeFlight in More > Settings > Alerts.

More Document Support: View Word, Powerpoint, and Excel Files in ForeFlight

ForeFlight Documents now includes support for Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files. Import and save your POH, local procedures, common radio frequencies, or any other .docx, .pptx, or .xlsx file for easy access in ForeFlight’s Documents view. Connect your Amazon S3, Dropbox, or Box account to securely deliver document files and updates via the cloud.

Import your Microsoft Office documents into ForeFlight via iTunes sideloading, and easily share documents with your friends or fellow pilots with the Send To button.

MS Docs-short

Learn more about ForeFlight Documents at foreflight.com/documents.

Surface Wind Analysis Now Available with SiriusXM

In ForeFlight Mobile 9.0 we’ve added a high resolution surface wind analysis to the list of map layers you can display through the SiriusXM satellite weather broadcast. This new product includes both windspeed and direction presented as wind barbs similar to the winds aloft layer. Tapping on any wind barb will show the specific details.

The surface wind analysis layer broadcast by SiriusXM will provide an overview of the general circulation of the prevailing wind about 10 meters above the surface. Tapping on any wind barb will display the valid time as well as the windspeed and direction at that location.

Two surface wind layers?

Yes, there will be two surface wind layers when connected to the SXAR1. The layer you have been using in prior releases and the one you can view when connected to the Internet is strictly based on surface observations from the various weather reporting stations around the world (typically airports). This depicts the actual wind reported in the routine observation (METAR) or special observation (SPECI). The surface wind layer is depicted at weather stations as colored wind barbs; at this point in time the wind markers shown include the gust factor.

The surface wind layer that is based on observations is shown as wind barbs color-coded based on the observed wind speed at weather stations.

The new surface wind analysis layer is not observed data from weather stations, but instead is generated by a forecast model, and therefore, completely automated. It’s only available when connected to the SXAR1 and shows an analysis of the prevailing wind at 10 meters above the surface; it does not include the gust factor. Unlike the observed data that is updated when new observations are taken, the surface wind analysis is updated once every hour.  When refreshed, this will provide wind data that will be valid at the top of the previous hour.

The surface wind analysis broadcast by SiriusXM shows low level atmospheric circulations very well as seen here as a Nor’easter deepens over the Delmarva Peninsula.

The primary value of this new layer is to show low level circulations at the synoptic scale level. This will point out high (clockwise) and low pressure (counter-clockwise) circulations as well as lines of convergence in the vicinity of strong frontal boundaries. This is difficult to see with the coarse network of observing sites throughout the U.S. But with the high resolution surface wind barb analysis, these circulations and convergence zones show up nicely.

 

Graphical Forecasts for Aviation (GFA) will become operational in April

Effective April 13, 2017, the experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation (GFA) produced by the NWS Aviation Weather Center (AWC) will transition to operational status. As you may have heard, the GFA was created in response to a formal request by the FAA to discontinue production of the textual Area Forecasts (FA). According to the NWS headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, “the requirements for the underlying meteorological information in the FA have not changed. The FAA recognizes that, given modern advances within the NWS, the legacy text FA is no longer the best source of en route flight planning weather information.”

The new graphical forecasts are designed to provide meteorological information equivalent to the textual FA. The GFA product includes observations and forecasts for the continental United States that provide data critical for aviation safety. The data is overlaid on high-resolution base maps that you can test drive here. Given this will be the replacement for the FA, it means that all of the forecasts will terminate at the U.S. borders. FAs for Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico will not be affected at this point in time.

For the time being, the legacy FA will continue to be generated in parallel with the GFA. The GFA is automated whereas the legacy FA is issued by forecasters at the AWC. At some point in the future, forecasters at the AWC will discontinue issuing this textual forecast. And don’t be surprised if the two forecasts contradict one another – let’s look at an example:

Below is the GFA valid at 23Z (issued at 2102Z) for cloud coverage along with tops and bases for the Northeast and Great Lakes. Notice that it forecasts just high cirrus clouds over a majority of Maine.

The GFA cloud forecast shows cloud coverage (color contours) as well as bases and tops. (click for larger image)

However, the legacy FA for this area shown below suggests a totally different forecast. This area forecast was amended by the FA forecaster for the eastern region at 1935Z. This forecast (highlighted below) suggests that after 21Z NW Maine is expected to have overcast clouds with bases at 2,000 – 3000 feet MSL. And NERN Maine is expected to have overcast cloud bases of 1,500 feet MSL. The forecaster also issued an AIRMET for IFR conditions covering most of the northeastern U.S.

000
FAUS41 KKCI 141935 AAA
FA1W  
BOSC FA 141935 AMD
SYNOPSIS AND VFR CLDS/WX
SYNOPSIS VALID UNTIL 151200
CLDS/WX VALID UNTIL 150600...OTLK VALID 150600-151200
ME NH VT MA RI CT NY LO NJ PA OH LE WV MD DC DE VA AND CSTL WTRS
.
SEE AIRMET SIERRA FOR IFR CONDS AND MTN OBSCN.
TS IMPLY SEV OR GTR TURB SEV ICE LLWS AND IFR CONDS.
NON MSL HGTS DENOTED BY AGL OR CIG.
.
SYNOPSIS...SEE MIA FA FOR SYNOPSIS.
.
ME NH VT
NW ME/NRN-SW NH/VT...OVC020-030 TOP FL250. VIS 3SM -SN BR. 21Z
OVC020-030. VIS 3SM -SN BLSN. WND N 20G30KT. OTLK...IFR CIG SN
BLSN WND.
NERN ME...OVC030 TOP FL250. VIS 3-5SM -SN. 21Z OVC015. VIS 3SM
-SN BR. 03Z OVC015. VIS 3SM -SN BLSN. WND NELY G25KT. OTLK...IFR
CIG SN BLSN WND.

Notice the Synopsis section simply says “SEE MIA FA FOR SYNOPSIS.” Most pilots were probably not taught that the FA has a 3,000 character limit. So, with a raging Nor’easter occurring in the Northeast, they didn’t have enough characters available for the Boston FA to provide a complete synopsis. In that case, the forecaster opted to place the Boston synopsis in the Miami FA.

For the potential of clouds in Maine, the legacy FA proved to be much more accurate than the new GFA. Most of Maine was experiencing IFR conditions as denoted by AIRMET Sierra shown here.

At this point in time, the AWC is not providing public access to some of the underlying data you may see on the webpage mentioned above. We are busy at ForeFlight trying to determine how to best incorporate these forecasts from the GFA once they become available. So stay tuned.

New Chart Color Inversion, Logbook and Weather Enhancements in ForeFlight 8.3

We are thrilled to introduce an innovative feature that we know you’ve been asking for – you can now invert colors on charts and documents for better viewing at night. On the weather front, we have a new Color IR Satellite layer, and, for SiriusXM SXAR1 customers, Cloud Tops and Echo Tops are now included in your SiriusXM Pilot for ForeFlight plan. Also, we hope you have fun with sharing your flights online using our new Logbook Entry Summary. Read on for all the details of the ForeFlight 8.3 release, now on the App Store!

Protect Your Night Vision with Color Inversion for Charts and Documents

Color inversion reduces the glare of bright charts and documents when viewing them at night by inverting white and black elements on IFR Enroute charts, VFR Sectionals, procedure plates, airport diagrams, and documents. Text and chart symbols are prominent and legible without the annoying glare while viewing them in a dark cabin, minimizing eye strain and fatigue.

White and black elements are inverted, turning the predominantly white background black, and the black icons and text white. All other colors stay the same – airspace frequencies and altitudes, MOA boundaries, and Class B airspace all retain their usual coloring, making them just as easy to identify as before.

When used in conjunction with ForeFlight’s “dark” map theme and the brightness slider, color inversion provides more options than ever for creating an ideal chart solution for night flying. The setting applies independently to each app view, so you can mix and match where you see or don’t see inverted colors.

If you have a Pro Plus subscription, the Plates on Maps feature slightly brightens the plate so it stands out against an inverted IFR chart. Toggle color inversion on and off in the Map Settings menu.

Share Your Favorite Flights with Logbook Entry Summary

First solo cross-country? Animal rescue mission? With our new Logbook Entry Summary feature, you can turn memorable Logbook entries into an interactive, visual scrapbook that you can easily share with friends and family. Create your flight entry as you normally would (be sure to include photos!) and then tap on View Entry Summary. ForeFlight creates an elegantly styled web page, complete with photos, flight details, and a map view of your route. When viewed on a desktop browser, the map becomes interactive, allowing you to zoom in to see the route in more detail or use the layer selector to overlay different map themes. Back in the flight entry, tap on the Send To button (upper right) to generate a link you can share via social media, email, or as a URL.

Share your Logbook Entry Summaries with friends, family, and fellow pilots to keep them up to speed on your most recent flying adventures.

Logbook Enhancements: More Ways to Streamline Data Entry and New Type Currency Tracking

We continue to streamline flight logging to save you time and taps. It is now easier to lookup and select airport approaches. In your flight entry, tap on Add Approach. You’ll see the destination airport field is already populated, and, if you tap on Autofill Approach, you can easily select from the list of approaches for that airport. When you choose an approach, the Type and Runway fields are automatically filled in. In addition, when selecting the aircraft for a flight entry, a helpful Aircraft list displays your three most recently logged aircraft first.

Do you have multiple type ratings to track? You can now add them to your Logbook Currency Tracking for better visibility into your flight status. Tap on Add Currency Summary then Aircraft Type Currency to choose between General and Night currency (or both) then select your aircraft from the list. The list includes all of the aircraft that you’ve added to your Logbook. You can also set up a multi-model type rating currency tracker by selecting multiple aircraft from the list.

If you add a new aircraft, Logbook automatically notifies you if there are any missing aircraft profile details, ensuring complete and accurate tracking. Currencies are color-coded, so you’ll know your status at a glance.

Learn more about ForeFlight Logbook at foreflight.com/logbook.

ForeFlight is Your SIC with Helpful Destination Weather Frequency Callout

Checking the weather report at your destination airport is an important step in your landing checklist. Like a good co-pilot, ForeFlight anticipates your needs and automatically displays the weather frequency approximately 20 nautical miles from your destination airport. In the More > Settings > Alerts view, you can set the Destination WX Frequency Alert to be an audio alert, visual alert, or both. The popup stays active on the screen until you tap on it, so you can still easily get the frequency if you happen to miss the callout in your headset.

Topping Off the Weather with New SiriusXM Satellite Layers

ForeFlight pilots flying with the SiriusXM SXAR1 Aviation Receiver can now view both Cloud Tops and Echo Tops as part of the SiriusXM Pilot for ForeFlight subscription. If you have been considering a portable satellite weather solution, check out the SXAR1. You can purchase from Sporty’s or SiriusXM and take advantage of limited-time special pricing and rebates.

To learn more about how to interpret Cloud Tops and Echo Tops and also best practice on using the altitude slider, check out this article from Scott Dennstaedt (ForeFlight’s Weather Scientist).

New Full-Color Infrared Satellite Layer Gives You Better Awareness of Icing Conditions

The new Color IR Satellite layer is an alternative to the existing satellite layer (now called Enhanced Satellite) and is useful for identifying dangerous regions of supercooled liquid water that can cause airframe icing. This danger is especially present in the yellow and green depicted areas, which are just warm enough to support large amounts of supercooled water – turn on the PIREPs layer and you’ll notice that most icing PIREPs occur in these areas. This new layer is a powerful tool to add to your preflight planning, especially during the late fall, winter, and early spring seasons to help you avoid dangerous weather and icing conditions.

To dive deeper into the Color IR Satellite layer, check out this article written by our in-house Weather Scientist, Scott Dennstaedt.

New Climb Gradient Instrument
ForeFlight Climb Gradient Instrument

ForeFlight’s Climb Gradient Instrument uses GPS, ground speed, and vertical speed information to display your climb gradient in feet per nautical mile, allowing you to monitor your climb performance in real time. Activate this new instrument by tapping on the Instrument Panel and selecting Climb Gradient from the list.

ForeFlight Tops it Off with Two New SiriusXM Weather Layers

If you surveyed a group of IFR pilots, tops are likely one of the most requested features. Now, the wait is over. With ForeFlight Mobile 8.3, you can view both echo tops and cloud tops when connected to the SXAR1 SiriusXM satellite receiver. These two sought-after weather products are now included with the current ForeFlight Mobile SiriusXM pricing tier at no extra cost.

tops-selections

You can find the echo tops and cloud tops selections in between the radar and satellite layers in the ForeFlight Mobile app.

Cloud top height

First and foremost, the cloud tops depiction from SiriusXM is not a satellite image per se. Instead it depicts the height of the cloud tops in reference to mean sea level (MSL). Second, the cloud tops overlay does not infer the depth of the cloud layer. Consequently, a high overcast cirrus deck at 30,000 feet may mask one or more cloud layers below. Third, not all cloud layers may be shown, especially when there are regions of low-topped stratus or scattered to broken fields of fair weather cumulus clouds. So it’s important to always overlay the sky coverage markers to augment the cloud tops layer.

lowstratus-tops

Here’s a common limitation during a low-topped stratus event. Notice that the sky coverage markers around Houston, Texas indicate the presence of overcast skies, however,  the cloud tops layer shows the sky as clear. 

The cloud tops layer is always valid in the recent past since it’s based on observed data. It is typically updated with a new image once or twice an hour. Tops above 25,000 ft MSL are color-coded using blue, orange and red to visually enhance the highest tops. Tops below 25,000 ft are shown as simple shades of gray.

echo-tops-layer

The echo tops layer (left) may appear to look like a radar depiction (right) from a color perspective, However, it has a much lower spatial resolution than the composite or lowest tilt radar mosaic.

Echo top height

Like cloud tops, echo tops depict a height above mean sea level so it’s not a radar depiction per se. Simply put, echo top height is based on the highest elevation angles at which greater than 18 dBZ reflectivities are detected. Keep in mind that echo tops are primarily used by meteorologists to identify more significant storms by locating the highest tops. So it’s important know that echo tops are not the same as cloud tops. The actual top of the cloud is always higher than the echo top.

echotops

In this vertical cross-section of a thunderstorm, reflectivity is shown using colors similar to what you would see on a NEXRAD mosaic. Dark blue represents a reflectivity of 15-20 dBZ. So, the echo tops are likely found near the top of the dark blue regions on this image.

Filtering by altitude

On the ForeFlight Map view, both the echo tops and cloud tops can be filtered by altitude. When selecting either one of these layers, an altitude selector similar to the one that appears with the winds aloft layer is shown. This provides a quick way to determine tops that are above a selected MSL altitude. Initially, the altitude selector will be positioned at the lowest setting, namely, 0 feet MSL. This is the selection that will show all cloud or echo tops. Setting the cloud tops altitude selector to 10,000 feet, for example, will remove any clouds with tops below this altitude leaving only clouds with tops above 10,000 feet. Therefore regions without tops data are regions without clouds or tops that are below the selected altitude.

cloud-tops-filter

The altitude selector allows you to filter all of the cloud tops (or echo tops) below a specific altitude. In this example, all cloud tops below FL300 are removed leaving only those tops above that altitude. For convective tops, it’s also a good idea to overlay the lightning layer.

Echo top clutter

Echo tops received through SiriusXM do not go through a rigorous filter like you may see with the two radar layers. Therefore, it is normal to see echo top clutter around and near the various NWS radar sites as shown below. Typically these are not associated with real areas of precipitation and often occur during fair weather. Simply moving the altitude selector up to the next rung at 5,000 feet will remove many of these annoying areas of clutter.

clutter

Echo tops clutter showing tops below 5,000 feet will often occur around the various NWS radar sites. Here you can see clutter around the NEXRAD sites at Charleston, W. Va., Sterling, Va., Dover, De., and Mount Holly, N.J.

True Colors of IR Satellite

Now in ForeFlight Mobile 8.3, you have a choice between one of two satellite layers on the ForeFlight Map view. The legacy satellite layer was renamed to Enhanced Satellite and the new layer is appropriately named Color IR Satellite. For many, the new satellite layer will look quite familiar. That’s because it was created to generally match the infrared (IR) satellite images located within the ForeFlight Imagery view. Or you may have seen similar color images on aviationweather.gov. While there are some differences, this color IR satellite layer has a rather high glance value to depict the locations of significant adverse weather and help to locate the height of the cloud tops.

satellite-selection

The older satellite layer was renamed to Enhanced Satellite with the new layer now called Color IR Satellite.

Why another satellite layer?

Back in November 2014, you may recall that we added color to the global satellite layer. Color was added to enhance or highlight the highest cloud tops that are typically associated with significant large synoptic-scale weather systems and deep, moist convection or thunderstorms. This is especially critical when flying in regions where ground-based radar data is sparse or nonexistent. The new satellite layer takes this a step further by colorizing the entire satellite layer based on a discrete cloud top temperature (in degrees Celsius).

color-satellite-layer

The Color IR Satellite layer should be viewed along with the sky coverage markers. You will notice that many pilot weather reports of icing tend to occur in regions of yellow, green and very light blue.

As I discussed in this earlier blog post high clouds are very cold and emit less infrared radiation than warmer clouds near Earth’s surface. Satellite sensors measure this radiation and meteorologists calibrate this to appropriate temperatures. Knowing the cloud top temperature can help us determine the relative height of the cloud tops and more importantly it can help us understand when supercooled liquid water may dominate the clouds creating a nasty icing threat.

Cloud tops and icing

In this new color satellite image, purple and darker shades of blue are indicative of tops at high altitudes. At the other end of the spectrum, shades of red and orange are indicative of shallow clouds with tops near the earth’s surface.

color-scale-ir

Colors such as dark blue and purple on the left side of this scale (in degrees Celsius) represent the coldest (highest) cloud tops whereas colors on the right side of the scale represent the warmest (lowest) cloud tops.

To use the layer to determine the cloud top height over a particular region, zoom in on the area of concern in the Map view and note the temperature using the color scale above. Next, find the MSL altitude that corresponds to that temperature by referencing the local temperature aloft in that region. That gives you the cloud top height. For example, assume you were departing out of Garden City Regional Airport (KGCK) and wanted to know the height of the tops. Zooming in as shown below provides an orange color representing a temperature of approximately 0 degrees Celsius.

color-height-example

The color IR satellite when zoomed in over Garden City shows mostly orange in this area. This corresponds to a temperature of roughly 0 degrees Celsius.

Using the winds/temperatures aloft provided in the Garden City popover, find the altitude that corresponds to that temperature. Perhaps a more accurate approach is to use a tool called a Skew-T log (p) diagram like the one pictured below. Starting from the surface, work your way up the red environmental temperature line and find the first altitude that corresponds to a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius. In this case, that corresponds to an altitude of 4,285 feet as shown on the left. Additionally, the diagram confirms that saturated conditions occur below this altitude representing the presence of clouds with unsaturated conditions above. This kind of analysis will provide the necessary confidence that a climb to 5,000 feet MSL will get you on top of this cloud deck.

skew-t

A Skew-T log (p) diagram like the one shown here for the Garden City Municipal Airport is an excellent tool to help locate the cloud top height. This depicts a forecast model representation of temperature (red line) and dewpoint temperature (blue line) as a function of height.

The more important colors are perhaps shades of yellow and green and maybe even very light blue. Using the color scale below, clouds with fairly warm subfreezing cloud top temperatures are likely to be dominated by supercooled liquid water and represent a airframe icing threat.

icing-potential

The pale green, yellow and very light blue indicate regions where cloud top temperatures are in the  regime where the clouds below are dominated by supercooled liquid water representing an airframe icing hazard.

Don’t become complacent; clouds with colder (higher) tops can and do contain supercooled liquid water and may pack the threat of supercooled large drop (SLD) icing especially within deep, moist convection. However, these colder-topped clouds of darker shades of blue will normally be dominated by ice crystals or more likely be a mixed phase cloud (containing both ice crystals and supercooled liquid water). However, once ice nuclei begin to activate and ice crystals start to form in the cloud, the cloud tends to grow bigger ice crystals at the expense of supercooled liquid water which lessens the icing threat.

Masking out clear skies

As mentioned above, this layer is a close cousin of the static color IR satellite images found in the ForeFlight Imagery view. The static images show not only the temperature of the cloud tops using the same colors, but also the temperature of the surface of the earth. This can make it difficult to know where clouds exist and where the sky is clear. The main improvement is that the new satellite layer attempts to mask out regions where the sky is clear showing the map background in those regions instead of the surface temperature.

clear-vs-cloudy

Clear regions are masked out to show the underlying map below.

While this masking algorithm works a majority of the time, it can be difficult to get it right every single time simply using temperature alone. For example, anytime there’s a shallow low-topped stratus deck like the one shown below, the tops of the clouds may actually be slightly warmer than the surface of the earth courtesy of a surface-based temperature inversion. So the algorithm may have a difficult time discerning where it is cloudy or clear. So it’s important to always overlay the sky coverage markers to pick up on these issues when they occur.

bad-mask

For some low-topped stratus events, it’s not unusual for the masking algorithm to show clear skies as it did here in the Midwest. The best way to detect this condition is to overlay the cloud coverage markers or during daylight hours check the Enhanced Satellite which operates in the visible spectrum during this time.

So during the late fall, winter and early spring, give this new satellite layer a quick glance. It’ll provide you with a method to determine the tops of most clouds and to reveal where there’s a definite risk of airframe ice.

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.