ForeFlight took another step forward today in its goal to be an all-in-one aviation app for iPad pilots. The latest update adds a full-featured logbook, making it easy for pilots to manually and automatically log flights, track hours, review currency, and record certificates and ratings.
Many iPad pilots may be reluctant to give up their trusty paper logbook in favor of an electronic version, citing concerns over ease of use, reliability and hassles with transferring previous entries. We feel, however, that ForeFlight’s logbook has addressed these issues with their implementation and think this new addition will be a big hit with pilots.
Setting up the Logbook
The new Logbook feature is located in the More section of ForeFlight and is included as part of the new “Plus” subscription tiers (more on this in a minute). The logbook’s home screen displays an overview of all your flight time, along with a summary that shows the status of things like night and IFR currency. Below the time summaries you’ll see a basic menu to set up aircraft, pilot info and add your certificates and ratings.
Start out by adding the details of the aircraft you fly most often, which will save you time down the road when adding new entries. After selecting Aircraft, ForeFlight automatically displays the aircraft you already entered in the performance data section, saving you time. You’ll just need to specify some additional attributes for each aircraft, like fixed vs. retractable, engine type, high-performance, etc. This will be used to help break down your flight times into different classifications when viewing reports.
After setting up your aircraft, select the People option from the logbook menu, and start out by adding your name to the list as a PIC. You can then add the names of other people you regularly fly with, including your instructor, passengers, copilot or students. This will allow you to include them in future logbook entries.
Next select the Qualifications option and add your certificates and ratings. This is a convenient place to keep track of all your pilot credentials, and is where you’ll keep track of routine checks like Flight Reviews and IPCs. You’ll find that just about every endorsement needed from the start of flight training through CFI is available here, and each includes the appropriate wording from AC 61-65 to save you the hassle of looking it up. You just need to add pertinent info like names and dates, and make if official with your CFI’s signature drawn right in the app.
The main benefit of having the logbook integrated directly into ForeFlight is that you can take advantage of automatic logging when flying with a GPS source. ForeFlight added automatic track logging in last month’s update, which ensures the app captures all pertinent flight data for each trip. Now after you land, ForeFlight uses this logged data to create a Draft logbook entry in the logbook section of the app.
You just need to review the info, add any supplemental info like approaches flown or flight training received, and approve the entry. This is a huge time saver and makes sure that you don’t forget to log any flights. You can also send previously recorded track logs right to the logbook from the Track Logs section of the app if they were captured from the Stratus 2S ADS-B receiver.
You can also manually add logbook entries with the “+” button at the top right of the logbook home screen. Quick Fill buttons are displayed for many of the fields that anticipate the data you want to enter. The app displays all possible fields by default, but you can choose to hide unneeded ones in the main logbook settings, accessed at the bottom of the logbook home screen. You can also add custom fields to your logbook from this settings screen.
Transitioning to the ForeFlight Logbook
The automatic logging feature solves the ease-of-use problem, but how do you make the leap from your current logbook method to ForeFlight’s new solution? If you’ve already been using an electronic logbook, you can export a data file from your program (.csv, .tsv, and other logbook formats) and use ForeFlight’s web tool to format and import all your entries. There is nothing particularly difficult about this process, but it is all manual and will take a little time to get the data organized into ForeFlight’s set layout.
If you’re transitioning from paper, you’ll have to decide which approach works best based on your type of flying. If you want to start from scratch, consider adding one main “catch up” entry in ForeFlight with all your previous times and use that as the starting point. If you want a better feel for your currency and recent experience, consider going back 3 to 6 months and adding that “catch up entry” at one of those time intervals, and then manually add in each of the flights from that date up through today. ForeFlight has a great blog post with some additional tips on making this transition.
Remember too that this should be a transition process–you don’t need to abruptly cut off one method and start up the other. As you start using the ForeFlight logbook consider continuing to log each flight in your paper logbook simultaneously. This is the same approach used when transitioning from paper charts to digital charts in the cockpit, and will make you feel a lot more comfortable about the process.
All the logbook entries are synced to the cloud in real time, so you don’t have to worry about backing up your info or “what-if” scenarios if you were to lose or damage your iPad. You can add or edit entries on both the iPad and iPhone version of the app, and ForeFlight’s servers automatically backup your logbook when changes or additions are made. You can also view all your logbook entries and flight times from any computer web browser in the ForeFlight web tool for the times you may not have your iPad handy.
What else is new in 7.5
In addition to the new logbook feature, ForeFlight 7.5 also adds a new weather tool called Area Forecast Discussions (AFD). The AFD is provided for all U.S. airports alongside their associated TAFs. These are issued by forecasters at the National Weather Service and provide important insights into forecast conditions, acting as a complement and explanation for recently issued TAFs.
The AFDs can be found in ForeFlight by tapping on a station in the Maps view, then tap Forecast in the pop-over. Also in the Airport view, tap the Weather tab then Forecast Discussion. As ForeFlight’s weather scientist Scott Dennstaedt puts it, “you’ll have the ability to peer into the minds of forecasters.” You can learn more about AFDs from Scott is his recent article on the topic.
New subscription plans
To help simplify the subscription process, ForeFlight now offers 2 new plans that allow you to choose the premium features that are right for you. The new Basic Plus plan includes all the core ForeFlight features, plus the Logbook and Weight and Balance tools for $99.95/yr. The Pro Plus builds on the Basic Plus plan and adds Synthetic Vision, Geo-referenced plates, among other additional features. These new plans help eliminate the process of adding a la carte features to the original subscriptions. Here’s a helpful breakdown comparing the plans: