Based on a recent iPad Pilot News poll, pilots told us that their favorite app feature was the ability to display current charts on their iPad. This makes sense, as the iPad has revolutionized the way pilots purchase, organize and display charts in the cockpit. Gone are the days of lugging paper around, and dealing with the chore of keeping them current. Plus digital charts through an app like ForeFlight are much cheaper, starting out at only $75/year to access all the VFR and IFR charts for the entire US.
There are some compromises that are made, though, when moving data that was initially designed to be displayed on a fold-out chart or book to an iPad app. It’s a challenge to integrate information like legends and chart supplements into a moving map display, while electronically stitching all the sectionals or IFR en route charts for the entire country. Fortunately ForeFlight still offers these supplements and supporting data, but you need to know where to look.
- Legends: every printed sectional includes a detailed legend on the outside back panel, depicting chart and airspace symbology. This information however is not directly accessible when viewing sectionals on the Maps tab. Rather you have to go to the Documents section of the app and view it there. After loading the Documents section of the app, tap the Catalog button in the top right corner, and then select FAA from the left hand column. Now scroll down until you see the Legends header, and here you’ll find the VFR Chart Legend. Tap the blue arrow button next to this, and the VFR Chart Legend will be saved in your Documents. Check out this article for more information on how to load and organize documents in ForeFlight.
- Special Use Airspace: each printed sectional includes a table listing out the details of all the MOAs, prohibited, restricted alert, and warning areas. This is very useful for determining the altitudes and time of use for these areas, since they are not directly printed on the map. While ForeFlight does not have this table available directly in the app, you can still access this info fairly easily. When viewing a special use airspace on the sectional in the Maps tab, simply tap and hold your finger on it, and a small window will appear. Select the All tab at the bottom left of the window, and here you’ll see all the details for the airspace, including altitudes, controlling agency, frequency and times of use.
- Supplement: while the individual entries for an airport are found in the A/FD section of the airports tab, the A/FD supplements are found in the Documents tab. They’re in the FAA Catalog, under the Airport/Facility Directory header, and are separated by region. The A/FD supplements include information that’s tough to find in other resources, like contact info for ATC facilities, FSS frequencies, preferred routes, VOR receiver checks and other notices.
Terminal Area Charts (TAC) & Class B Supplements
- Legends: The TAC legends are located in the same place as Sectional legends in the Documents section of the app in the FAA Catalog.
- VFR Flyway Planning Chart: VFR Flyway charts display an uncluttered view of the airspace surrounding busy Class B airports, and are printed the back side of TAC charts. These are found in the FAA Catalog in the Documents, under the FLY Charts header.
- Class B Enhancement Graphics: These display a simplified view of Class B airspace boundaries and altitudes and are located in the FAA Catalog in the Documents.
- Visual Chart Supplement: These are provided for areas in the US with congested airspace and offer guidance on altitudes and flight paths to navigate through the airspace. Like the other charts mentioned here these are found in the FAA Catalog in the Documents.
IFR Low & High En Route Charts
- Legends: The legends for both the high and low altitude IFR en route charts are also located in the ForeFlight Documents in the FAA Catalog, under the Legends header.
- TPP Supplement: In the traditional book format, the supplement to the Terminal Procedures Publication (TPP) appears at the beginning before all the actual arrival procedures and approach charts. This information is very useful to IFR pilots, and contains explanations of approach charts and circling criteria, approach chart legends and rate of climb/descent tables. The electronic version of this information is located in the Documents section, at the top of the FAA Catalog.
- Airport Takeoff Minimums and Departure Procedures: The IFR Takeoff Minimums are also normally found in the front of the TPP book, and are used by instrument pilots as a guide when planning a takeoff from an airport when the weather is less than VFR. To access these, go to the Airports tab in ForeFlight, select the Procedures tab, select Departure from the left side options, and you’ll then see an option listed with the airport’s Standard Instrument Departure Procedures called Takeoff Minimums. One thing to point out is that this will load all the Takeoff Minimums and Obstacle Departure Procedures for the region, so you may need to swipe through a few pages to find the ones applicable to your particular airport.
- Alternate Airport Minimums: The IFR Alternate Airport Minimums are similarly found in the Airports section of ForeFlight. When in the Procedures section of the Airports tab, select Arrival from the list of options at the left, and you’ll then see Alternate Minimums displayed at the top.
International Chart Legends
You won’t find the Canadian VNC/IFR or Caribbean/Mexico IFR chart legends in the Documents with the other US chart legends, but rather they are displayed on the actual chart on the Maps page. After selecting one of these chart types to view on the map, tap the Gear (Settings) button at the top of the screen and enable the Chart Legends toggle. Now tap one of the Canadian or Caribbean charts and you’ll see the legend appear on the far left side of that chart, located in the same place as if you were viewing the paper version. Each time you tap a different chart you’ll see it rise to the top, and it’s legend will be visible at the left edge of that chart.