ForeFlight’s NOTAM services have been fully restored; all new and updated NOTAMs are now being processed and displayed in ForeFlight Mobile and ForeFlight Web.
Key Takeaways: ForeFlight has adopted Jeppesen’s high-quality NOTAM feed as the sole source of NOTAMs in the app and on the web, an example of the ongoing effort to integrate Jeppesen’s data resources for the benefit of ForeFlight customers. This change expands our global NOTAM coverage to include many previously-unsupported countries from South America to Asia, and also improves NOTAM accuracy by removing old NOTAMs more promptly.
The week before the release of ForeFlight version 13.0 on January 25th, our team completed and released a significant yet easy-to-miss update to ForeFlight’s NOTAM system: we fully transitioned to using Jeppesen as the source of all NOTAMs in ForeFlight. Many months in the making, this change greatly enhances both the accuracy and global coverage of in-app NOTAMs thanks to the Jeppesen team’s work building and maintaining a high-quality NOTAM feed over many years.
Domestic & International NOTAMs
Any NOTAM issued by a country usually fits into one of two categories: International NOTAMs or Domestic NOTAMs. As you might suspect, the former are those that directly affect international flight ops, while the latter apply only to local operations within a given country. And while most of the large NOTAM aggregation and distribution sources – such as the United States NOTAM Office and EUROCONTROL’s EAD feed – carry all international NOTAMs, they often miss domestic NOTAMs from other countries and therefore provide incomplete coverage outside of the United States and Europe.
Jeppesen solves this problem by working directly with the primary NOTAM issuers in countries around the world to create a robust feed that includes domestic NOTAMs in addition to international ones. The existing global relationships established by Jeppesen for sourcing AIP and chart data allows them to maintain this state-of-the-art NOTAM system and provide complete coverage for flight departments operating all over the world.
The countries and regions that have improved domestic NOTAM coverage with Jeppesen’s feed include South Africa, Central America, Cuba, New Zealand, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Russia, India, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Out with the Old, in with the NOTAMs
So how do ForeFlight customers benefit from this new and improved NOTAM feed? As noted above, the new system provides many domestic NOTAMs that were previously unavailable in several countries. Below is an example of this from South Africa, one of the countries providing Jeppesen with domestic NOTAMs.
This comparison between the old (left) and new (right) NOTAM feeds illustrates the substantial difference that including domestic NOTAMs can make. These screenshots also demonstrate the other major benefit of the switch: more accurate NOTAMs. Note the effective date of the unreliable runway light NOTAM in the left screenshot. Since the end date for this NOTAM later the same month was marked as estimated, the NOTAM was treated by the system as permanent and thus never removed, a common problem for semi-permanent NOTAMs or those with uncertain end dates under our old NOTAM feed. With Jeppesen’s feed, such old and expired NOTAMs are removed more promptly, ensuring that stale information doesn’t persist long after it ceases to be relevant.
Canadian SNOWTAMs & More
ForeFlight customers flying in Canada may also notice some welcome improvements in NOTAM accuracy and consistency, particularly with regard to NOTAMJs or “SNOWTAMs”, Canadian domestic Runway Surface Condition NOTAMs. These are issued on a daily basis or even more frequently during the winter for nearly all airports in Canada, providing critical information for pilots planning their next flight. With Jeppesen’s NOTAM feed Canadian pilots can expect an improvement in the timeliness and accuracy of these critical NOTAMs whenever they’re issued.
While not all pilots will notice the change, especially those flying in the US or Europe where coverage of domestic NOTAMs isn’t a significant problem, those flying in many other countries around the globe – from Canada, to South Africa, to Brazil, and more – can expect to find more accurate and more complete NOTAMs the next time they check their local airport in ForeFlight.
As you well know, the wall-of-text preflight weather briefing we receive from the FAA has not changed all that much over the last several decades. We believe in a better way to deliver this information that is more targeted, easier to digest, and will help you stay better informed on every flight. With ForeFlight Mobile 6.5 we unveil two firsts in mobile flight planning capabilities that advance preflight weather briefings in two key areas: flight conditions monitoring and NOTAMs.
Flight Notifications Keep You Ahead of the Weather
The first new capability is Flight Notifications. ForeFlight monitors your planned flight and synthesizes flight condition alerts from its systems and from others, including Lockheed Martin’s Adverse Conditions Alerting Service (ACAS). When a significant change in route or weather conditions is detected we send you a notification containing a summary and detailed description of the condition.
A critical gap in communication can occur in the time between getting a flight briefing and taking-off when there is potential for you to miss updates to flight conditions. ForeFlight co-founder Jason Miller experienced this situation while preparing for a flight home from Ohio:
“A new icing airmet came in shortly after I filed. The notification came right to my iPad and made me aware of the change in weather conditions. I was able to take the new information into account before leaving the ground. Without the notification, I might have missed it.”
Flight Notifications addresses this pilot awareness gap by delivering any new or modified condition information to your mobile device as it occurs. Flight Notifications are also tied to ForeFlight’s Sync system, meaning notifications get delivered to all of your devices.
Notifications include updates to: TFRs, airport/runway closed/unsafe NOTAMs, urgent PIREPs, SIGMETs, Convective SIGMETs, AIRMETs, Center Weather Advisories (CWAs), and Severe Weather Watches/Warnings.
How To Receive Flight Notifications
There are two Settings in ForeFlight Mobile that control this feature.
Flight Notifications use ForeFlight’s Sync platform so you will need to turn this on in order to receive the notifications. Enable Sync by navigating to More > Settings, then scroll all the way to the bottom.
The second setting is found in the flight plan form. You can choose to turn Flight Notifications ON or OFF for each individual flight plan you file.
Flight Notifications are delivered to flight plans filed via ForeFlight Mobile using Lockheed Martin as the filing service. Filing your flight with Lockheed Martin does not require any special action, simply tap ‘File’ from the File & Brief view. You will need to disconnect your DUATS account in order to receive Flight Notifications. Navigate to the More > Accounts view to sign out of DUATS.
Flight Notifications appear as an entry at the top of your flight plan form and a badge alert on the File & Brief tab notifies you that updates to route conditions are available to view. Each notification includes a brief summary, as well as a more detailed description.
Flight Notifications is a ForeFlight Mobile Pro feature.
NOTAM Advisor for Instrument Procedures and Airports
The second capability is a feature we call NOTAM Advisor. When you display an instrument procedure or an airport diagram, ForeFlight cross checks its system for procedure and location specific NOTAMS and displays a warning banner that shows a count of relevant NOTAMs. Tap the banner to view the NOTAMs that are matched to the airport or instrument procedure.
It is easy to miss a procedure NOTAM during planning. The FAA continues to work towards standardization, but the current state of the FAA’s NOTAM system and wall-of-text briefings make it difficult or very time consuming to ensure that you’ve caught everything. ForeFlight’s NOTAM Advisor proactively notifies you of relevant NOTAMs which may apply to the instrument procedures you intend to fly. It is not a guarantee that all NOTAMs can be matched due to the gaps in standardization that still exist, but we continue to refine our matching process.
Viewing the NOTAM Advisor
NOTAM Advisor filters notices based on the airport diagram, SID, STAR, instrument approach, or departure procedure you are viewing. Tap on the red banner for quick access to the notices.
When it is possible to detect them, key words are highlighted to indicate important information.
NOTAM Advisor is available to all ForeFlight subscribers.
More Improvements and Fixes in ForeFlight Mobile 6.5:
- Optimization for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Compatibility with the higher resolution screens enables ForeFlight Mobile to show more information without scrolling (e.g. favorites and recents lists).
- Auto-show taxi is expanded to the Maps view. When turned ON and in the Maps view, Show Taxi on Map automatically switches to the current airport taxi diagram without leaving the Maps view. This allows you to continue in Track Up mode after landing.
- Improvements to Stratus platform to ensure the integrity of secure communications between the Stratus 2 and ForeFlight Mobile.
- Improvements to airport services information.
- New helper messages when filing flight plans.
- Improvements for better performance on iOS 8.1.
ForeFlight Mobile 6.5 is a free update from the App Store and is available to all current customers. Click here for instructions on updating to the latest version.
Last night our “Alerts” service was activated. Alert data comes directly from the FAA and is refreshed every few minutes. If you are curious if extensive unmanned aerial vehicle testing is happening today over the local patch in Afghanistan, now you’ll know.
When you click on the ‘Alerts’ tab in ForeFlight Mobile 2.0 while viewing airport information, you will see a nicely designed listing of obstruction, runway, taxiway, TFR and other alerts associated with that airport. We also lookup any TFRs for any airport within a 100 nm radius of the airport you are viewing and display those at the top. This is a convenient feature for our California pilots because most of the state is, well, on fire.
NOTAMs are decoded and translated for easy interpretation. We group them so you know when they were issued and highlight the really important ones. After all, that unlit tower five miles east of the airport has been broken for over a year. Maybe they’ll fix that.
Look for the helpful icons next to certain NOTAMs and the special shading of TFRs. These visual cues will help you quickly interpret what issues affect your departure or destination point.
No more excuses for not checking all the NOTAMs before a flight. See the screenshot gallery for pictures.
If you need an airspace refresher to help refine your preflight intelligence gathering process, AOPA’s online courses are a great way to start.