A Closer Look at Global Icing, Turbulence, and Surface Analysis Map Layers

Available with ForeFlight Mobile 9.4, five new weather layers bring global Icing, Turbulence and surface pressure data to the map, with detailed Surface Analysis available to much of North America. These weather products significantly enhance local and global flight planning and your weather decision-making abilities. The new layers are available for customers with Pro Plus, Performance Plus, Business Performance, and MFB Performance subscription plans, on mobile and on the web. In addition, the recently introduced time slider provides frame-by-frame control over animation of the new weather layers. Let’s dive into the details!

Layer Animation Time Slider

The animation Time Slider tool provides better control over weather layer animation, as well as more clarity on the age of the weather product you are viewing. The slider automatically displays when you select any Radar, Satellite, Icing, or Turbulence layer.

Weather Layer Time Slider

In addition to the familiar play/pause button, the Time Slider allows frame-by-frame control over the animation. The slider’s position on the time scale indicates the valid time for the currently displayed weather graphic. Tapping to the right of the slider head advances the layer by one time step, while tapping to the left of the slider head retreats the layer by one time step. Alternatively, tap-hold and move the slider head left and right to manually control animation speed and enable back and forth (rocking) animation, a useful capability when analyzing local storm cell changes on radar.

The time scale changes as appropriate for each weather product displayed. Forecast-based weather layers, such as the Icing and Turbulence layers, use a white vertical bar to indicate the present time, splitting the time slider into two parts: forecasts that are valid for the past (gray line) and for the future (white line).

Products that indicate past information only, such as the radar and satellite layers, are presented with a gray time scale with the product age, relative to the current time, displayed with each frame. The absolute time is displayed in a callout with each frame as you manually scrub left or right, as well as to the left of the time scale.

Providing full manual control over the weather layer animation and easily reading relative age and absolute time for each weather product frame provides better insight to how the weather is trending.

Surface Analysis

The Surface Analysis layer adds a global surface pressure overlay, displaying isobar lines and associated pressure values in millibars. For much of North America, the isobar lines are complemented with depictions of surface fronts, troughs, and high/low pressure center markers. Besides displaying the current surface analysis, the forecasted surface analysis can be viewed for up to two days into the future using the Time Slider.

The Surface Analysis product and its forecast is a collaboration between multiple weather centers and is primarily based on the National Weather Service Global Forecast System (GFS) and the North American Mesoscale (NAM) models, with additional guidance from the European ECMWF and the United Kingdom’s UKMET models. Surface features (fronts, troughs, pressure centers) are analyzed manually by a NWS meteorologist, and are therefore only available for the North America region.

Surface Analysis features follow the standard depiction convention as outlined in the table below:

View global isobars and more detailed weather features for the U.S.

Icing

Icing severity data for the United States has been available in the ForeFlight Mobile Imagery view since 2015. Now, icing severity is available as a dynamic weather layer in the Maps view in ForeFlight Mobile and on the web. And not just for the US, but for the entire world.

You will now see two icing products in the Maps view layer selector: Icing (US) and Icing (Global). Both serve the same purpose, but are based on different weather models.

For the US coverage, the Forecast Icing Product (FIP) is a Numerical Weather Prediction model that employs a 20km grid in the horizontal and a 1000 ft grid in the vertical (from 3000’ to FL450) to calculate icing severity and the potential for SLD (supercooled large droplets). The FIP model is run hourly and forecasts are available out to 18 hours.

For a fast analysis of conditions at each altitude, you can quickly scrub between altitudes using the Altitude Slider in the lower right corner of the Maps view. The Altitude Slider is also available on the Turbulence layer.

Altitude Slider

Altitude Slider

Please note that SLD threat is currently only available to customers flying with the SiriusXM SXAR1 aviation receiver and who are subscribed to the SiriusXM Pilot for ForeFlight plan. SLD threats are depicted with red squares.

The Global Icing product is based on the Global Forecast System (GFS) weather model with a coarser horizontal and vertical grid and is run four times per day (every 6 hours). Global Icing forecasts in ForeFlight are available out to 24 hours.

Because of the coarser grid, as well as the less-frequent model runs of the GFS, it’s worth comparing the two icing depictions side-by-side. The difference in horizontal resolution and model update frequency between the US icing layer (left) and the global icing layer (right) is evident. When operating within the limits of the US icing model coverage area, the US icing layer should be referenced instead of the global layer to take advantage of its frequent updates and finer horizontal and vertical grid resolution.

Regardless of whether you have US or global icing selected, each layer uses the same color scale to depict conditions of no icing, light, moderate and heavy icing, as shown in the legend below:

Icing intensity is based on how long it would take for ice to build up on an airfoil

It’s important to note that the icing severity is roughly based on the accretion rate of ice on an airplane. The severity levels are defined by how long it would take for ¼ inch (65mm) of ice to build up on an airfoil. Time ranges are given for each level because the build-up rate depends on variables like airfoil properties, airspeed, and atmospheric conditions.

Since the icing forecasts are produced with no human modifications, they are intended for flight planning purposes only and should always be used in combination with AIRMETs, SIGMETs and PIREPs.

Turbulence

Similar to the Icing map layer, there are two new Turbulence map layers, one for the United States and the other for Global coverage.

The US turbulence product is based on the Graphical Turbulence Guidance (GTG). The GTG and the associated Eddy Dissipation Rate (EDR) data scale used by GTG were both covered in detail in a previous ForeFlight article. It’s worth re-reading that post to brush up on the turbulence product, especially how the relationship between EDR and in-flight turbulence intensity changes based on aircraft weight. The information in that article applies equally to the US and global turbulence layers.

The US turbulence layer data are still based on GTG-3 with an available lead time of up to 18 hours. This layer displays the maximum EDR of clear air turbulence (CAT) and mountain wave turbulence (MWT). It is not intended to predict convection and thunderstorm turbulence sources, but may provide some guidance if the storm event is widespread. Furthermore, the graphics represent a snapshot at that time and not a forecast for a time range. Finally, it is important to realize that turbulence is a dynamic event and rapidly changing conditions may not be accurately reflected.

The global turbulence layer displays EDR derived from the GFS forecast model using a proprietary algorithm. This layer differs from the US GTG-3 derived layer in that the global turbulence data only forecasts CAT and not MWT. The forecast lead time can be up to 24 hours. The same reduced horizontal and vertical resolutions discussed previously in the global icing section apply to the global turbulence layer. Also, since the global turbulence layer uses GFS model data, the same reduced model run rate limitation applies (every 6 hours for GFS versus hourly for GTG-3), resulting in the US turbulence layer being updated more frequently. For all of these reasons, it’s important to use the US turbulence layer when operating within its coverage area.

Since the layer’s EDR scale is aircraft dependent, it is important to review the scale applicable to your aircraft category (the article linked above contains scales for light, medium, and heavy aircraft classes). The following color scheme is used in the turbulence map layer:

These new weather layers are an exciting and useful feature addition for our US and worldwide customers. Keep in mind that there is no human involvement in creating the turbulence and icing products and the information should be supplemented as much as possible with SIGMETs, AIRMETs, and PIREPs to understand the full weather picture.

Plan your 2017 solar eclipse experience using ForeFlight custom content features

On August 21, 2017, the day will briefly turn into night as the sun will disappear behind the moon during a total solar eclipse over the United States. ForeFlight has several options for viewing custom content, helping you pinpoint the path of this rare event (the last total solar eclipse was in 1991!) and fly to an ideal spot to catch this once in a lifetime experience from the best vantage point.

You can easily import custom content like User Waypoints or User Map Layers from the Apple Mail app, your browser, the Dropbox app, or send directly to your iPad or iPhone via AirDrop. NASA’s eclipse website has several shapefiles and eclipse coordinates available for download at no cost. After you import your custom data, select your file either from the User Content tab available in the More view or from the bottom right of the layer selector in the Maps view.

eclipse in bezel-min (2)

 

As eclipse day approaches, see where the weather will be clearest using ForeFlight’s industry-leading imagery collection, and remember to add the proper eye protection to your flight bag!

Learn more about importing User Map Layers with our helpful video tutorial:

Fly Fast? Plan Faster with ForeFlight’s New High-Performance Planning Solution

ForeFlight 9.1, now available on the App Store, introduces our next-generation high-performance flight planning, a new Flights interface that replaces the File & Brief view and streamlines the flight planning and filing workflow, Jeppesen’s global high-resolution terrain and obstacle data for everyone, and more.

Introducing ForeFlight Performance Planning 

ForeFlight Performance is a new tier of service that provides best-in-class flight planning and global wind-optimized autorouting capabilities for high-performance aircraft. ForeFlight Performance includes a library of aircraft with performance profiles to calculate accurate flight time and fuel burn, a sophisticated flight planning engine that generates global wind-optimized routes, and a user-friendly interface that simplifies the planning workflow.

The core of ForeFlight’s new performance planning capabilities consists of an extensive library of aircraft with detailed performance profiles, a sophisticated global routing engine powered by ForeFlight’s AviationCloud technology, and redesigned map and form-based flight planning interfaces designed for maximum efficiency.

ForeFlight’s in-house performance team built the aircraft performance profiles from the manufacturer’s climb, cruise, and descent performance data. The performance models are defined for multiple altitudes, weights, and temperatures, allowing the planning engine to produce highly accurate speed and fuel flow data for all conditions. ForeFlight’s library includes hundreds of profiles for the most popular piston and turbine aircraft from Bombardier, Cessna, Cirrus, Daher-Socata, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, Hawker-Beechcraft, Pilatus, Piper, and more.ForeFlight Performance

Setting up an aircraft in ForeFlight with performance profiles can be done in less than a minute. Simply search for and select your aircraft model, confirm the basic weight and fuel data, and add a tail number. This saves you time as all of the complex performance data and multiple cruise profiles from the aircraft manual are pre-built and automatically loaded for you with a click on the web or a tap on the iPad.

You will also see a newly designed Flights view that replaces the File & Brief view. Flights simplifies and consolidates the planning workflow into a single form-based view. In addition to route information, the new planning form has neatly-organized sections for payload and fuel planning. ForeFlight automatically runs structural weight limit checks with every adjustment to the plan and provides visual alerts when an issue is detected, helping to eliminate an overweight takeoff or landing scenario.

ForeFlight Performance gives you the ability to select from multiple fuel policies, allowing the flexibility to calculate block fuel using a desired fuel strategy, a capability especially important for flight departments that have specific fuel policies pilots must follow. For example, if an operator requires that the aircraft complete a flight with 2000 pounds of fuel, then selecting the Landing Fuel Policy quickly calculates the block fuel amount to load for that desired outcome.

The form-based workflow of the Flights view integrates Route Advisor and Altitude Advisor, two powerful decision-making tools previously accessed only on the Maps view. Powered by the AviationCloud advanced flight planning engine, Route Advisor analyzes current and forecasted wind and temperature data, aircraft performance capabilities, and recently cleared routes to generate a comprehensive list of valid wind-optimized route options for any two airports in the world, even for airports without previously flown or preferred routes.

ForeFlight calculates performance results for each route and displays the estimated flight time, distance, and fuel burn alongside each route string allowing for quick comparisons between different routes. The AviationCloud autoroute tops the list and typically offers the most optimal route based on the current data.

Recently-cleared ATC routes are listed next, showing the departure time of the most recent flight cleared for that route (which will often be in the future for frequently filed routes), the number of times that route was cleared by ATC in the past year, and the type of aircraft and altitude range for which the route was cleared. These details give pilots added confidence in the expectation for a smooth clearance delivery experience.

ForeFlight developers anticipated real-world scenarios to help guide the product design and feature set. Pilots are often confronted with the need to explore the impact of taking more or less fuel, last minute aircraft changes due to maintenance, or a situation where more passengers than expected arrive at the airport. ForeFlight Performance enables pilots to quickly evaluate what-if scenarios with just a few taps. If any adjustments are made in the fuel and payload fields or a different aircraft is selected, ForeFlight automatically recalculates weight, altitude, and fuel requirements in a matter of seconds. In addition, the planning engine works offline as well, giving pilots the flexibility to recompute a route even when they are out of range of an internet connection.

The Flights interface also features easy access to a detailed printable navlog for inflight reference, a link to a comprehensive briefing, and a tab for messages from ATC and other notifications pertaining to the flight. Once planning is complete, it’s a single tap to the filing form, which is nearly complete based on the information already provided.

The user-friendly interface extends from ForeFlight Mobile to the web where the Flights tab on the web not only mirrors the functionality and workflow of the mobile app, but also displays an adjacent map of the route that stays in perfect sync with any changes made to the form. ForeFlight Sync ensures that all planning activity automatically syncs between mobile devices and the web.

ForeFlight Performance will help save pilots time and fuel not only through higher fidelity performance data and advanced route optimization. The Performance tier also integrates JetFuelX contract fuel prices directly into the app. JetFuelX is a web-based service that helps customers quickly determine which locations on and around their route of flight are offering the best prices based on their personal contracted rates. With JetFuelX prices displayed on the map, subscribers to ForeFlight Performance can easily compare prices from multiple fuel card memberships and pinpoint the best fuel stop location. Anyone can sign up for a free JetFuelX account at jetfuelx.com and immediately start saving on jet fuel purchases.

The new high-performance planning features are part of ForeFlight’s two new subscription plans: Performance Plus for individuals and Business Performance for multi-pilot flight departments.

The single user Performance Plus Plan is priced at $299.99 USD per year and the multi-user Business Performance Plan starts at $300 per year per license. For plan comparisons, visit foreflight.com/pricing.

Learn more about ForeFlight Performance

Take a deeper look at all of ForeFlight’s advanced performance capabilities by exploring our Performance planning video series.

New Flights Interface Streamlines Planning, Briefing, & Filing Workflow

All customers will see a newly designed Flights view that replaces the File & Brief view and simplifies the flight planning workflow into a single neatly-organized, form-based page. You can build your route, file the flight plan, generate a graphical weather briefing, and print a detailed navlog to reference during flight. Customers with Pro and Pro Plus plans will also receive flight notification messages here. Flights includes buttons for Route Advisor and Altitude Advisor, two powerful decision-making tools previously accessed only on the Maps Route Editor view. The new flight plan summary strip pinned to the top of the Flights view keeps route distance, flight time, fuel burn, and route wind component information front and center.

The Flights interface extends from ForeFlight Mobile to the web where the Flights tab on the web mirrors the functionality and workflow of the mobile app. Planning activity automatically syncs between mobile devices and the web.

Professional-Grade, Printable Navlog

From the Flights view, tap on the new Navlog button to generate and print or email a detailed Navlog that includes flight and fuel summary information, TOC, TOD, synthetic waypoints along track, a wind and temperature aloft table for quick reference, and more. Printable navlog is available for all customers.

pring navlog in bezel_cropped

Jeppesen’s Global Terrain and Obstacle Data for Everyone

Earlier this month we announced our strategic alliance with Jeppesen. The first phase of this partnership introduces the integration of Jeppesen’s global high-resolution terrain and obstacle data into ForeFlight Mobile. This data now comes standard in every ForeFlight plan, making ForeFlight’s powerful mobile hazard awareness technology better than ever. For customers with Hazard Advisor map overlay, Profile view, and Synthetic Vision, you can now use these features anywhere in the world at no additional cost.

global jepp in bezel

Jeppesen’s global library of departure, arrival, and approach procedures are coming to ForeFlight Mobile later this Summer.

Learn more about ForeFlight + Jeppesen for Individuals
Learn more about ForeFlight + Jeppesen for Flight Departments

A Faster Way to Import Custom Map Layers & New User Content Tabimport UML

We’ve streamlined the process to import User Map Layers (previously User Map Shapes) for viewing in ForeFlight. In addition to drag-and-drop via iTunes, you can now easily import your custom KML files from a hyperlink, email attachment, or AirDrop. Build and share shapefiles with your flying club or flight crew. To import KML files, tap-hold on an email attachment or hyperlink and seleuser contentct “Copy to ForeFlight” from the menu.

It’s also easier than ever to access your imported content in ForeFlight. In addition to the Maps view layer selector, quickly access and manage your custom User Map Layers and User Waypoints files in the new User Content tab in the More view.

Visit https://foreflight.com/support/user-map-shapes/ to learn more about User Map Layers. 

 

Avionics Integration

Two-way flight plan transfer is now available with Avidyne’s IFD550/540/440 systems. Display ADS-B METARs, TAFs, and PIREPs in ForeFlight Mobile when connected to a Garmin Flight Stream 510. For more information about ForeFlight’s avionics connectivity visit foreflight.com/connect.

Expanded Radar Coverageeuropean radar_cropped (2)

ForeFlight’s Radar layer now covers Europe, Australia, and Japan – adding to our expanding global weather coverage which already includes Satellite, graphical SIGMETs, winds aloft, current flight category, and more.

Changes to ForeFlight’s Checklist Pro App

With the release of ForeFlight 9.0, checklists have been redesigned and integrated into the ForeFlight Mobile app, and are offered as part of our Basic Plus and Pro Plus plans. Beginning April 10, 2017, Checklist Pro app customers will no longer be able to access checklist.foreflight.com to add or modify checklists online.

Will I be able to access my Checklist Pro checklists in ForeFlight Mobile? Yes! Here is the checklist migration plan:

ForeFlight Basic Plus or Pro Plus Subscribers
If your Checklist Pro account email matches your ForeFlight Mobile account email, then your checklists have already been migrated to the ForeFlight Mobile app.

ForeFlight Basic or Pro Subscribers (legacy plans)
ForeFlight Checklist is a part of our Basic Plus and Pro Plus plans. If your Checklist Pro account email matches your ForeFlight Mobile account email, your checklists will migrate to the ForeFlight Mobile app when you upgrade to a Basic Plus or Pro Plus plan.

Checklist Pro Customer Only
Take full advantage of our digital checklist templates and create and edit your own when you purchase a Basic Plus or Pro Plus ForeFlight subscription. We recommend subscribing with the same email you currently use to access the Checklist Pro app. After purchase, your existing checklists will migrate to your ForeFlight Mobile account. In addition to checklists, a subscription to ForeFlight gives you access to an all-in-one electronic flight bag solution with an industry-leading collection of features that make planning, flying, and record-keeping a joy.

After April 10, you can still access your checklists in the Checklist Pro app on your devices. There will be no change in functionality of the Checklist Pro app and checklists will continue to sync from your devices to the server and back, however, please note that checklists will not sync between Checklist Pro and ForeFlight Mobile.

Watch the video below to see ForeFlight Checklist in action. To take a deeper look at ForeFlight’s features, visit our online Video Library.

Our support team is always on frequency at team@foreflight.com if you have any questions.

Webinar: Weather Flying and the iPad

Recently ForeFlight’s own Weather Scientist, Scott Dennstaedt, and Sporty’s John Zimmerman hosted a webinar devoted to Weather Flying and the iPad. In this hour long session, learn about the basics of weather, discover how to utilize ForeFlight and the Stratus ADS-B receiver for the most informed and effective weather decision-making, and see ForeFlight and Stratus in action with real-world scenarios. This webinar is geared towards making you a safer, more strategic, and informed pilot in any weather situation.

ForeFlight Mobile 2.0.1 released

Apple just posted the latest version of ForeFlight Mobile to the App Store!  This update includes quite a few changes.

Here’s a list of the main ones:

  • Fixed problem with looping NOAA radar not looping
  • Fixed issue where some weather reports would not match between the recents view and the airport wx details view
  • Fixed issue with some METAR visibility values showing too low
  • Fixed issue where variable winds showed as coming from heading of -001 degrees
  • Updated Flight Plan form to use spinners for certain fields (time enroute, fuel aboard, cruise altitude, etc.) and to allow proper scrolling when keyboard is showing.  Also changed keyboard to show number keys by default for true airspeed field.
  • Flight Plan form saves user input automatically in the background, even when only partially filled out
  • Improved performance and speed of Flight Plan form
  • Non-U.S. airports now show up in the recent airports list
  • Fixed issue where relative humidity would show incorrectly as 100%
  • Fixed problem where some links would not work the second time when clicked twice in a row
  • Fixed lock-up when clicking on an airport’s nearby weather report
  • Airport info view now shows next sunset/sunrise
  • Added new hotel button to airport details view
  • NOTAMs now provided for a large number of U.S. and international airports (in the airport’s “Alerts” view)
  • Corrected problem where certain approach plates would never load properly
  • Some airports now show more frequencies

To upgrade to the newest version simply run the App Store program on your iPhone or iPod touch and chose the “updates” option on the bottom right.  The new version of ForeFlight will show up for easy updating!