The 2013 edition of AirVenture Oshkosh may have wrapped up yesterday, but the new iPad product announcements continue to roll in. ForeFlight today released another update to their popular flight planning and navigation app, making it the sixth significant update of the year. ForeFlight Mobile version 5.3 adds some exciting new features, including the ability to display instrument approach charts and airport taxiway diagrams directly on your moving map. It also includes a firmware update for Stratus 2, enhancing its GPS performance. Let’s look at each new feature and how you can take advantage of them.
Approach Charts and Taxi Diagrams on the Moving Map
ForeFlight Mobile Pro level subscribers now have access to a new feature that allows you to overlay geo-referenced approach charts and taxiway diagrams directly on the moving map. This adds a new level of situational awareness for pilots flying IFR, and is additionally useful for all pilots when a taxiway diagram is needed at larger airports. There are five ways to access this feature in ForeFlight:
- When in the Edit view of the top flight planning window on the Maps tab, tap one of the airport identifiers from your flight plan in the route planner. You’ll see a new option in the list called “Show Plate.” Tapping this will display all the procedures for that airport, and selecting one will load it as an overlay on the moving map. If the airport has a taxiway diagram, you’ll see that as an option too when initially tapping the airport ID in the route planner.
- When viewing the same route planner box on the Maps tab, tap the Procedures button at the right side of the screen. Select Show Plate, choose one of the airports in your active flight plan, and then select the plate you want to display on the map from the list.
- Tap an airport directly from the moving map, and select the Info tab at the bottom of the window. Scroll down to the Procedures section, and select Approach. Next to each chart you’ll see a new option at the right with the word Map and an arrow; tapping this will load that chart on the map.
- From the Airports tab select the Procedures list, and then Approach. Next to each approach chart you’ll see the new Map button, which will display that chart on the map.
- When viewing a chart directly in the Plates tab, tap the arrow/box button at the top of the screen. Select the “Send to Map” option to display that particular chart on the map.
This feature works with ForeFlight’s catalog of over 13,000+ geo-referenced charts and 700+ geo-referenced airport diagrams on the moving map. Keep in mind it is not designed to work with procedures like SIDs and STARs since these are not drawn to scale. When viewing a chart on the map, tapping it will load a pop-up window with options to turn the view off, display it full screen or to load a different plate. The opacity of the plate overlay can be adjusted with a slider in the gear icon at the top of the Maps view.
There are some great benefits to overlaying the chart on the map, including:
- Track-up or north-up approach plates: when plates are on the map, you can fly them in track-up forward, track-up centered, or north-up modes.
- The ability to overlay both internet and airborne ADS-B or XM weather on approaches: overlay flight rules, NEXRAD radar, and see weather conditions at nearby alternates.
- Approach plate hazard awareness for terrain and obstacles: if Hazard Advisor is active, terrain and obstacles are colored, raising situational awareness.
- Traffic on the plates: if you have a Stratus or Stratus 2 portable ADS-B receiver and an ADS-B out equipped aircraft, see traffic targets displayed on the approach.
- Route overlay on top of approach plates: with the approach plate on the map, it is easy to add approach waypoints to your route that line up with the selected approach path.
New Instrument Panel design
The bottom row of flight information shown on the Maps and Plates tabs has been improved. It now uses a transparent design to allow a partial view of the map behind it, and in landscape orientation you’ll see an expanded set of 8 instruments now displayed. A new Instrument button was added to the top menu bar to show or hide the instruments.
Pilots who use ForeFlight’s integrated IFR flight plan filing tool will receive a helpful new alert in the latest update. The app is now able to receive updated expected routing information when it becomes available from the FAA’s flight plan system. You will receive a notification directly on all the devices that have ForeFlight installed, and you can send this new route information directly to the moving map. The flight plan form will also be updated, adding the expected route and a link to FlightAware for flight tracking. This feature requires a Pro subscription.
When connected to the internet you can now enable a new Aerial Map option. This displays detailed satellite imagery on the map, and can be useful when flight planning to get a better feel for the airport layout, and where FBOs and other airport features are located. Due to the large size of the map, the app cannot save the entire aerial map for use in the air. It will however cache the areas that you previously viewed, which will remain accessible later in flight
Direct Connect to Dual GPS
Last month’s ForeFlight update added a direct connect feature to the Bad Elf GPS receiver, which allows the app to bypass the GPS bug inherent in the iPad’s operating system. This new 5.3 update enables the same direct connection with the popular Dual XGPS150. To enable this feature you must first update the firmware on the XGPS150 from Dual’s website.
New Stratus Firmware
Finally, the latest ForeFlight update includes new Firmware (version 1.3) for Stratus 2 owners. This fixes GPS performance issues that some experienced when flying above 35,000 ft. Here’s a quick video explaining how to update the Stratus 2 firmware: How to update Stratus firmware.