ForeFlight 10.3 is available now for download on the App Store. This release includes 200+ refinements and performance enhancements, with a couple nice touches like a Runway Final Approach Alert and Logbook – Track Log links.
With the first half of 2018 (and Oshkosh) behind us, we decided to take a short break from major feature additions and focus instead on improvements, refinements, and fixes. Each team found ways to optimize their respective piece of the app, increasing speed, reducing processor and memory usage, conserving battery, and improving overall app performance. The result is over 200 behind-the-scenes changes that will keep ForeFlight running smoothly so we can get back to doing what we love most – building awesome features that make flying easier, safer, and more enjoyable.
Runway Final Approach Alert
ForeFlight Runway Final Approach Alert
The new alert provides added situational awareness on final approach by calling out the runway name and your distance from it. The alert triggers for any runway that you are approaching based on your altitude, vertical speed, track, and distance from the runway threshold. The Runway Final Approach Alert is available for all subscribers in More > Settings > Alerts.
Logbook – Track Log Links
Top: Logbook link to the associated Track Log. Bottom: Link to the Track Log connected to the Logbook entry.
Logbook entries and recorded Track Logs that are associated with each other now include links to view the details of the other, making it easier to tie them to the same flight. The link is automatically created when the Track Log auto-record and Logbook auto-log settings are enabled, but you can also use the Send To > Logbook option when viewing a Track Log to manually link the two. Track Logs associated with multiple Logbook entries show the number of linked entries, so you can see if you’ve already created a Logbook entry from a given Track Log.
New Airport Resources
New Airport Information Resource Links
The list of miscellaneous airport details in Airports > More > Features or in the airport popup on Maps now includes links to view the airport in the Apple Maps app or the airport’s Wikipedia page.
Be sure to visit our video library for additional support and information.
With the release of ForeFlight Mobile 8.1 you now have the opportunity to use the best portable en route weather system available courtesy of our partnership with SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The SiriusXM Pilot for ForeFlight subscription tier has been uniquely designed to provide all of the essential weather data during every phase of flight. In fact, within about 15 minutes of turning on the SXAR1 and connecting to the ForeFlight Mobile app, you’ll have seamless access to a comprehensive set of weather products well before you close the door on the cockpit and depart. Here are some of my tips to safely use this unique collection of weather data.
SiriusXM radar depiction of Hurricane Hermine as it approached the Florida coast in early September.
The SiriusXM source label
Knowing the source of the data you are using is paramount since weather data ages quickly. When connected to the SXAR1, you’ll see a SiriusXM label under the tappable timestamp button in the upper left of the Map view. Moreover, every weather product provided through the SiriusXM broadcast includes a source label in parentheses along with its relative age like the one depicted in the image below. This is similar to the ADS-B label shown when connected to Stratus. While connected to the SXAR1 in flight, always be sure to check for the presence of the SiriusXM label. Seeing this label will confirm that you are using the most current weather available.
Products received from the SiriusXM broadcast and displayed in ForeFlight will be labeled with a SiriusXM tag along side the product’s age as shown here for a terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF) for the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.
During the warm season, lightning from ground-based sensors is perhaps one of the most critical weather elements to have available in the cockpit. Any area of weather that includes lightning means there’s a darn good chance you will encounter severe or extreme convective turbulence in and around that weather. While most of the serious thunderstorms will be included within the boundary of a convective SIGMET, not all thunderstorms will meet convective SIGMET criteria. Moreover, thunderstorms often occur outside of these areas, especially during a rapidly developing convective event.
Lightning is broadcast over SiriusXM every five minutes and provides pilots with a birds-eye view of where the truly nasty convective weather is located. Moreover, both cloud-to-ground (CG) and intracloud (IC) lightning are part of this broadcast. It’s quite important that both types are included since many severe storms are often dominated by IC lightning.
With SiriusXM not every lightning strike is broadcast. Instead, a single lightning symbol is shown anytime one or more strikes have occurred within a generous 0.5 nautical mile grid. So when you pinch-and-zoom way in on the ForeFlight map as shown below, you’ll notice the lightning bolt symbols are aligned in this 0.5 nautical mile gridded pattern. ForeFlight retains the most recent 10 minutes of lightning data which tends to align with the most recent radar depiction very well.
A zoomed-in view of SiriusXM lightning reveals it’s gridded nature.
Lightning is detected even in regions where radar coverage is not present. This can be extremely useful when flying outside of the NEXRAD radar coverage area. You’ll see lightning depicted in regions over the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean as well as the coastal waters of the U.S. in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans. It will also include lightning in Canada, Mexico, Central America and the northern-most regions of South America. Although there is SiriusXM NEXRAD coverage provided around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (using the base reflectivity from the lowest tilt), having lightning shown in other locations in the Caribbean will help pilots avoid the nasty tropical convection that occurs in these highly traveled areas where there isn’t NEXRAD coverage.
SiriusXM radar coverage is available using the base reflectivity layer from the lowest tilt around Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. You will also see lightning depicted outside of the standard NEXRAD coverage area as far south as the northern portions of South America.
Storm attribute markers
Pilots have become accustomed to seeing echo top heights and storm track identification markers in ForeFlight. With SiriusXM you’ll get those same NEXRAD storm attributes. This includes a generic storm marker with an echo top height shown in 100s of feet in addition to cells that have signatures of hail, mesocyclone and tornadoes using the symbols shown below. Echo top heights are only shown for tops 20,000 feet and higher.
Storm attribute markers include hail, mesocyclone and tornadic vortex signature. Under the settings, these SiriusXM Storm Markers can be switched on and off as desired.
In most cases these storm attribute markers will also contain a direction and speed of the cell being tracked. Similar to the other storm tracks you will see depicted on the radar mosaic in ForeFlight, SiriusXM tracks will contain an arrow showing the direction of movement as well as the speed. If the cell is moving at a speed of more than 10 knots, you’ll also see two black dots depicted on the arrow that loosely estimates the position of that storm cell in 20 and 40 minutes based on the cell’s current speed and direction provided. The arrowhead represents the estimated location of the cell in 60 minutes.
During a rapidly developing convective event or when thunderstorms are dissipating, it’s quite common to see the storm tracks for adjacent cells point in opposite direction.
While these markers provide additional information about a storm cell, keep in mind that there will be times when the storm tracks for adjacent cells may provide conflicting information as you can see in the example shown above. It’s unlikely these cells are actually moving toward each other. This typically occurs during the initial stage of thunderstorm evolution especially when there’s an area of rapidly developing convection. Animating the radar is perhaps the best way to note the direction of movement of an area of weather.
Shown here are several storm attribute markers to include mesocyclone circulation and tornadic vortex signatures from Tropical Storm Hermine as it passed off the coast of South Carolina.
The SiriusXM composite reflectivity and base reflectivity from the lowest tilt have the same 2 km horizontal resolution as you may have experienced with the regional radar broadcast provided by ADS-B. On the left is the regional composite reflectivity mosaic broadcast by ADS-B using the Stratus 2 receiver. On the other hand, the right side is the SiriusXM mosaic just a minute earlier. While the mapping of dBZ levels to color may be a little different for the two composite reflectivity sources, the overall spatial resolution is the same.
Regional composite reflectivity from ADS-B shown on the left and composite reflectivity from SiriusXM shown on the right. Both have a similar resolution.
There’s no doubt that the overall qualitative glance value is practically the same between the two radar depictions above. You’ll find, however, that the latest SiriusXM broadcast will be about 5 minutes fresher on average than what you get through ADS-B.
Partial radar refresh
You may occasionally notice that both of the radar mosaics may take a short period of time to completely refresh the Map view for the entire radar coverage area when a new NEXRAD broadcast is being processed. During the refresh, it will be common to see “Radar not available” briefly depicted over regions where coverage is normally provided as shown below for the base reflectivity mosaic from the lowest tilt.
Partial updates to both the composite reflectivity and base reflectivity from the lowest tilt should be expected when the newest radar broadcast is being processed.
This is because radar data received by the SXAR1 rarely comes as a continuous frame of data. Often this data is broadcast in blocks over a short period of time. This is especially true for the base reflectivity mosaic from the lowest tilt. To avoid holding back the entire radar mosaic until every single byte is received, we decided to provide the newest radar in pieces as it arrives. Whether or not this occurs and how long it takes to provide a complete picture, depends on the amount of radar echoes throughout the entire coverage area. During times of high convective activity or large-scale precipitation, expect the refresh to be a bit slower, typically 20 to 30 seconds.
If you believe in Murphy’s Law, this refresh delay will rear its ugly head at the most inopportune time. If the refresh takes uncomfortably too long while in flight, you can always switch to the other radar depiction in the short term.
Also includes Canada
Unlike ADS-B, the SiriusXM radar depiction from the lowest tilt does include Canadian Doppler radar information as well (Canadian radar is not included in the composite reflectivity mosaic). You won’t see any storm tracks or echo tops depicted by Canadian radar data, but this does extend the radar coverage to the southern most part of Canada for those pilots that fly to this area frequently. In addition to radar, you will see winds and temperatures aloft depicted in Canada as well as METARs, TAFs and PIREPs.
Winds and temperatures aloft
The winds aloft layer is populated by model-based winds (not observations) from the SiriusXM broadcast. These are an accurate representation of the current winds at 3,000 ft MSL up to FL480 at 3,000 ft intervals. This is a similar presentation to what you will find with the winds aloft layer when connected to the Internet. Tapping on any wind barb will provide the wind direction, wind speed and temperature at the altitude selected.
While in flight, you will see updates to the current winds once each hour. At this time there are no forecasts of winds aloft provided through SiriusXM valid beyond the current time. Consequently, the SiriusXM winds are not used in performance calculations, so you should anticipate using the pack feature to have an estimation of winds aloft along your route while in flight.
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: