Configuring ForeFlight’s new map and alert options in version 8.2

10

The latest release from ForeFlight, version 8.2, includes a number of enhancements to the app’s data-driven aeronautical maps, plus some impressive new audio alerts. Let’s explore how to customize these features so they match the type of flying you do.

New map data

ForeFlight continues to build out their global map engine, a feature that was announced at Oshkosh this year. In addition to airports, airspace, airways and cities, the app now shows mode C veils, airspace altitude limits, TRSAs, ADIZ areas, center frequencies and more. This makes the Aeronautical layer a pretty good replacement for sectional charts (although those are still available, of course).

ff-aero-map-airspace-altitudes

With these new features, there are more options than ever for customizing how the map looks. Tap on the settings symbol at the top left of the Maps page, and you’ll see a variety of options. In previous articles, we’ve explored the theme and terrain settings. Here, we’ll look at four other important settings: airports, airspace, airways and ARTCC/FIR.

First up is airports. ForeFlight automatically shows public airports on the map, but the app allows you to hide or show less common facilities: heliports, private airports and seaplane bases. Heliports are shown as light-colored circles with an H; private airports are magenta circles with an R; seaplane bases are magenta circles with an anchor symbol.ff-airport-options

Next is airspace, and this is an area where ForeFlight has added a number of new features recently. Class B, C and D are always on, since they require communications. But you can choose to hide other types of airspace, like Mode C veils or TRSAs. By default, class E airspace is off, but you can select this to show airports where class E airspace goes to the surface. Note that this will not show all class E airspace (as you’d find at 700 or 1200 ft. AGL over many airports), only the dashed magenta line variety.

ff-airspace-options

Airways can be shown on the Aero layer, either low (victor airways) or high (jet airways). Choose which one you’d like to display (or neither), then tap on an airway for MEAs and MOCAs.

ff-airway-select

Also new in version 8.2 is the ability to view center frequencies. These are great for VFR pilots looking for flight following when there isn’t a nearby approach control, and they’re also helpful for IFR pilots who have lost contact with their last frequency. Zoom in on the map to find the boxes, and make sure you have the right ones displayed. Most flights below 25,000 ft. will use Low frequencies, while flights at 25,000 ft. and above will use high.

artcc-ff

For more information on the new map features in version 8.2, check out ForeFlight’s video.

New audio alerts

One of our favorite features in ForeFlight is the suite of pop-up alerts the app provides – we think of it as a portable annunciator panel on your iPad. These are a good way of bringing your attention to important information, no matter what screen you’re on. In recognition of the growing number of alerts, ForeFlight now has a dedicated Alerts sub-menu on the Settings page.

All alerts will appear on the screen as an overlay in either orange (caution) or red (warning). If your iPad is connected to your audio panel or your headset, be sure “Speak All Alerts” is enabled. These are perfect for staying in the loop while keeping your eyes outside.

ff-alert-settings

Below that setting, you’ll see the six alerts available: 500′ AGL, cabin altitude, runway proximity, sink rate, traffic and TFRs. When in doubt, it makes sense to have all of these turned on. Just remember that traffic alerts are only issued if ForeFlight detects ADS-B Out in the airplane (via Stratus or Flight Stream).

Three of these alerts are new or enhanced. First, sink rate provides TAWS-style alerts anytime the app determines you are descending too fast. These are smart alerts, based on your altitude AGL, so they get progressively more restrictive as you get closer to the ground. In particular, these will get your attention if you’re flying a steep approach close to the runway.

sink-rate-ff

The 500′ AGL callout is also new. This isn’t a warning, just a reminder that you’re within 500 feet of the ground as you approach an airport. We use this callout as reminder to check “three green” in retractable gear airplanes. For fixed gear airplanes, the 500′ AGL callout can be used as a last minute check to ensure you’re stabilized (on speed and glide path). This alert is only active if you’ve been above 1000 feet.

ff-500

Finally, the runway proximity advisor, while not new, has a powerful new enhancement. ForeFlight will alert you when you’re approaching a runway, then again when you enter the runway. Now, the app will also confirm which runway you’re on and how many feet are remaining. This is a fantastic upgrade in our opinion, especially for night or low visibility takeoffs. This feature probably would have prevented an accident like Comair 5191, a CRJ which attempted to take off from the wrong runway and crashed.

ff-new-runway-alert

To see these features in action, watch ForeFlight’s video below:

Other updates

As usual, there are a few other new features in ForeFlight 8.2. The app now supports Garmin’s tiny Flight Stream 510 wireless bridge, which sends ADS-B weather and traffic (plus flight plans) from the panel to ForeFlight. Note that this support does not include the database concierge service for wireless database updates – that remains a Garmin Pilot feature.

ForeFlight’s logbook feature has been upgraded as well. The app now offers smart suggestions for airports when you create a new logbook entry, saving time. Aircraft alerts also warn you when you haven’t selected all the options for an aircraft profile, which could prevent currency alerts from working properly. Finally, ForeFlight allows you to connect your digital logbook to your Sporty’s online courses. This is helpful for logging written test prep endorsements (complete with CFI signature) right from the course. We’ll cover these features more in a future article.

ForeFlight 8.2 is now available for download in the App Store.

10 COMMENTS

  1. While the new map technology is cool, contrary to the hype, it is most definitely not a replacement for the sectional chart (which is still a regulatory requirement). It is a useful ‘declutter’ option that makes thevFF interface look like the moving map displays on most of the panel mount GPS navigators.

    However, it is missing critical obstruction information/depiction, including the minimum obstruction clearance altitude for each quadrant. From a planning perspective and for many aspects of situational awareness, there are critical gaps in this display option. The bottom line is that while useful, this is by no means a safe or adequate replacement for thevsectional chart view, and should not be presented that way.

    • Just to clarify one of your statements, the sectional chart is not a regulatory requirement in private GA aircraft. The pilot is only required to be familiar with all available information for intended airports and route of flight.

    • As Rick says, there is no requirement to carry paper charts. That said, having only one iPad in the plane and no other backup is asking for trouble. I have had them overheat and shut off or just lock up. I fly with two iPads with FF on them and have a third iPad mini as a backup. I mostly fly IFR and use the IFR charts on FF but when I scan the VFR charts, I see the same thing that I saw back when I used paper charts. Granted, it has been a long time but one of the items you said was missing was the minimum obstruction altitudes. I see the same ones on FF that I do with a paper chart. Highest altitude in the quadrant and obstructions. I usually only use my iPad for approach plates. My wife runs her iPad with ADS-B and terrain with a 4 mile corridor. All of my IFR data comes from the Avidyne IFD540 and the Aspen EFD 1000 pro.

  2. Depends on the flying you do. For IFR flying in a jet (what I do most often), I think the new maps are plenty good for primary reference. Sure it’s good to check the actual charts once in a while, but 99% of what I need is now on the map. I can’t remember the last time I looked at an obstruction altitude or the floor of Class E.

    • I agree in that it mimic’s the low altitude IFR charts with a sprinkling of VFR information. However, every review article I’ve read, including the pitch on FF website has been to infer that this is a suitable replacement for the VFR sectional. It is not.

      I will disagree on the need (lack of) to reveiw the sectional’s along with the Low/High IFR charts when IFR flight planning. One doesn’t have to read to many of the “Pilot Error” stories published to discern a pattern in many of IFR approach accidents – lack of terrain awareness due a reliance on only the IFR enroute charts/plates and not using the sectionals. It is a habit gets instilled in the IFR training (in my opinion), since that is what my instructor did. However, look at the obstruction information in the sectional and try to find even a significant portion of it on the IFT enroute charts or the approach plates. It simply isn’t there which leads to a very incomplete picture for situational awareness. 99% of the time when everything goes right, it won’t matter. In that 1% when things are going wrong it will make a lifetime’s difference. I think flying renamed the series, don’t think it was called Pilot Error in its final iterations. I bought a paperback compilation back in the 80’s – it is heart breaking to read at times. But the lessons are still valid, even with moving map GPS and iPads/FF.

  3. I have difficulty highlighting the airways to get the MEA/MOCA altitudes. I find that it works sometimes, but mostly doesn’t. Any suggestions?

    • I’ve had that problem and it drives me nuts. What I like about Garmin Pilot is that they are already pre-marked. What I have found is that if you have the Airmet/Sigment/CWA selected in settings, then taping the map will show the A/S/C instead of the MEA. You have to deselect those to readily get the MEAs.

    • I find that doing all of that in your pre-planning makes life so much easier than trying to do it on the fly. Of course inflight reroutes throw all of that out the window. I had to pull out the iPad and give that one a try, as I had never tried to highlight the MEA/MOCA. I usually just zoomed in to see that. I didn’t have any problem with just touching the airway anywhere to get the MEA/MOCA on FF, of course I was sitting on a nice stable couch and not bouncing around the cockpit when I was trying it.

LEAVE A REPLY