Guide to ForeFlight alerts and notifications

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One of our favorite features in ForeFlight is its ability to continuously monitor your position, altitude and flight profile to provide a number of in-app audio and visual alerts. These are designed help to keep you aware of potential hazards and improve situational awareness in-flight and on the ground. Here we’ll go through each alert function based on phase of flight to explain its purpose and configuration options.

Pre-flight alerts

Let’s first take a look at the preflight alerts generated from the File and Brief section of ForeFlight.

Flight Notifications

Weather is dynamic and can change quickly in between the time you retrieve your weather briefing and actually takeoff. To fill in this gap and keep you informed, ForeFlight can send notifications to your iPad and iPhone when new information is available that might impact your flight.

After filing a flight plan in the app via Flight Service, two hours prior to your scheduled departure time ForeFlight will begin monitoring your route of flight and provide weather and other alerts relevant to your filed flight plans (requires ForeFlight Pro or Pro Plus subscription).

ForeFlight notifies you if there are updates to: TFRs, airport/runway closed/unsafe NOTAMs, urgent PIREPs, SIGMETs, Convective SIGMETs, AIRMETs, Center Weather Advisories (CWAs), and Severe Weather Watches/Warnings that affect your filed route.

When one of these alerts becomes available, you’ll see a red badge on the File and Brief button at the bottom of the screen. Go to this section of the app and select the upcoming Flight Plan in the left column. Tap the “View Alerts” button at the top of the flight plan to view a summary of the alerts. A thumbnail of each alert’s graphic is shown to the left of the alert.

To activate the Flight Notifications you must scroll down to the bottom of the flight plan on the File & Brief page and verify the Flight Notifications switch is set to ON.

IFR Expected Routing

After filing an IFR flight plan in ForeFlight the app can notify you of your expected routing from ATC (requires ForeFlight Pro or Pro Plus subscription). When this information becomes available, ForeFlight’s servers send a notification and email of that route information directly to your devices.

This alert includes the option to load that route right to your active flight plan on the Maps screen. ForeFlight also sends you a message if they do not receive an expected route for your flight from ATC.

In-flight alerts

ForeFlight in-flight alerts constantly monitor your location to provide time-sensitive information while in the airplane. Each can provide both visual and aural alerts and can be configured in More > Settings > Alerts.

Runway Proximity

ForeFlight provides a visual and audio alert system that triggers when you taxi near or onto a runway. This system uses GPS and geographic runway safety areas to alert you as you approach or enter a runway environment. As you near the runway the system will provide an “Approaching” alert which includes the name of the runway. Upon entering the runway itself, the system will provide an “Entered” alert, which includes both the name of the runway and the length of runway remaining in feet, rounded to the nearest hundred.

The system runs automatically in the background, regardless of which part of the app is currently visible. ForeFlight Mobile must be running and visible on the iPad screen for the system to function. This feature is available for all ForeFlight subscriptions and nearly every airport in the US is supported.

TFRs

TFR Alerts monitor your GPS position and track for nearby known TFRs and provide visual and audio alerts to warn you if your present track will take you inside (or over/under) a known TFR within the next 5 minutes, even if you don’t have the TFR map layer turned on. Four different alerts are possible based on your position relative to the TFR: “TFR Ahead”, “TFR Below”, “TFR Above”, and “Inside TFR”.

If ForeFlight detects that you will enter or pass within three nautical miles of an active (or soon-to-be-active) TFR within the next five minutes it will issue a “TFR Ahead” alert, or “Upcoming TFR Ahead” if the TFR is not yet active. A TFR’s altitude (MSL or AGL) is taken into account when determining if you will enter it, and an adjustable altitude buffer is provided in More > Settings > Alerts so you can customize how close your altitude must be to the TFR for the alert to activate.

The altitude buffer has settings for 500’, 1000’, 2000’, and 5000’. If you are outside a TFR’s altitude but within the selected buffer altitude, ForeFlight will issue “TFR Below” or “TFR Above” alerts as you pass respectively above or below the TFR. If you enter a TFR within its altitude range ForeFlight will issue an “Inside TFR” alert.

Pilots flying with a Stratus ADS-B receiver or SiriusXM SXAR1 satellite weather receiver will get continuously updated TFR information in flight. If you’re not flying with one of these datalink systems, make sure to use the Pack feature during preflight to ensure ForeFlight has the latest TFR data stored in the app.

Traffic

In addition to receiving in-flight datalink weather, a big benefit of flying with the Stratus ADS-B receiver is that you will also receive nearby traffic. A nearby traffic alert will be displayed if your aircraft is moving at over 40kts and an ADS-B traffic target comes within 1.8 NM horizontally and +/- 1,200’ vertically of your aircraft’s position. The pop-up includes “clock” direction and relative altitude information to help you locate the target.

If ForeFlight detects that your aircraft is equipped with ADS-B Out, an audio alert will also be issued with the same information as the visual pop-up. If no ADS-B Out is detected, you will not receive traffic audio alerts, but you will still receive the visual pop-up. Check out this article for more information on using the Traffic feature in ForeFlight: How to get the most out of ADS-B traffic in ForeFlight.

500′ AGL Altitude

The 500’ AGL alert is a simple callout that triggers when you descend through 500’ AGL after having been above 1,000’ AGL. The alert will only sound once every 60 seconds and is automatically disabled if your groundspeed is less than 40kts.

Sink Rate

The Sink Rate alert warns you when your downward vertical speed exceeds a certain amount, which varies based on your height above ground so as to warn you sooner at lower altitudes.

At all altitudes, the descent rate required to trigger the alert must be maintained for five seconds, and the alert will only sound once every 30 seconds. This alert is automatically disabled if your groundspeed is less than 40kts. Here are the criteria for triggering the alert:

  • Above 2,500’ AGL (or when AGL is not known), the alert is triggered if your descent rate exceeds -4,000‘ per minute.
  • At 2,500’ AGL, the alert is triggered if your descent rate exceeds -3,000’ per minute.
  • Between 2,500’ AGL and 500’ AGL the descent rate required to trigger the alert decreases linearly along with altitude, down to a threshold of -1,500’ per minute.
  • At 500’ AGL the alert is triggered if your descent rate exceeds -1,500’ per minute.
Cabin Altitude

The Cabin Altitude Advisor helps to keep pilots flying at high altitudes more aware of cabin pressure status and any unplanned changes. If your iPad/iPhone is equipped with a barometric pressure sensor (iPhone 6/iPad Air 2 or newer), or is connected to an external device that provides that capability (such as a Stratus 2S or Garmin Flight Stream 210), ForeFlight will monitor your cabin’s pressure altitude and provide alerts when you pass 12,000’ MSL and 25,000’ MSL. The audio and visual alert triggers once every 30 minutes for each altitude.

Destination WX Frequency

In an effort to reduce workload during the arrival, ForeFlight will display a pop-up alert with the destination weather frequency (ATIS, AWOS, or ASOS) as you near the airport.

The callout requires that the last item in your route be an airport (there must be more than one item in your route) and that the airport has a weather frequency. The callout occurs at a certain distance from the airport, which is greater at higher altitudes – at 5,000 feet or below the callout occurs at 20nm from the airport.

Unlike other alerts, the weather frequency popup does not disappear after a few seconds – it will remain on the screen until you dismiss it by tapping on it. The callout will not occur more than once every 20 minutes for the same airport, but if you change the destination airport then the callout can occur again in less time for the new airport.

Audio alert tips

It can be tough to hear the audio alerts from your iPad’s speaker while wearing an ANR headset with the engine at full power. To make these audio alerts more useful, consider connecting your headset to your iPad using either Bluetooth or an audio cable; here’s how to do it. 

Post-flight alerts

Close VFR Flight Plan

If you activated a VFR flight plan using ForeFlight Mobile and have not closed the plan 20 minutes after your calculated ETA (Departure time + ETE), ForeFlight will send a “push” notification to your devices reminding you to close your flight plan. You can close the plan using the “Close” button on the File & Brief page, or by calling 1-800- WX-BRIEF.

If the plan still has not been closed 30 minutes after your calculated ETA (Departure time + ETA) LMFS will send ForeFlight an “OVERDUE” status update, and ForeFlight will then send another “push” notification to your devices reminding you to close your flight plan immediately.

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