The latest update from ForeFlight brings a number of enhancements to the everyday workflow of the app, with notable upgrades to the route planning, terrain, and SiriusXM weather tools. Let’s explore what the new features offer, and how to use them.
Planning a route is one area where ForeFlight really shines – from choosing the right altitude to adding an IFR procedure, it’s easy to create the perfect flight with just a few taps. In particular, we love the Route Advisor tool, which shows you which routes ATC has used, including how often and for what altitudes. While this is a big time saver, especially for unfamiliar airports, it has always been a challenge to visualize all the options. How do you know if V5 is better than V19?
ForeFlight version 9.3 solves this problem in a quick and simple way. From the Maps page, type in your departure and destination airports, then tap Routes on the right side of the FPL box (just like you always do). Now, instead of just a list of routes, you’ll see a map with all the various options drawn on a basemap. The map is interactive, so you can zoom in to investigate particular sections of the flight, or tap the three connected dots at the lower left corner of the map to zoom back out to the full route level. You can tap each option to see what it looks like, then tap Select Route to make it the active flight plan.
This is a nice complement to the Procedure Advisor feature, also accessed from the right side of the FPL box, which works the same way. It also consolidates all of your visual flight planning on the Maps page – although the visual Route Advisor also works on the Flights page. Just remember that the Route Advisor feature does require an internet connection to update the list with the latest routes.
Flight Notifications for everyone
This is a really helpful feature, but one that a lot of ForeFlight pilots don’t know about. When you get a preflight weather briefing and file a flight plan, it could be many hours before you actually take off. ForeFlight’s Flight Notifications feature, in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Flight Service, fills in this gap.
On the Flights page, select your current/next flight and you’ll notice a button at the top that says 0/1/2/3 New Msg. Tap this to see any adverse weather conditions that have popped up since filing your flight plan. You’ll also receive a push notification with your expected route from ATC – a huge time saver on IFR flights. This feature has been around for a while, but now ForeFlight has added this to all subscription levels (it was previously only for Pro accounts).
New terrain map options
ForeFlight used to offer a terrain map as a standalone map layer (accessed from the drop-down menu at the top left of the screen). That changed when ForeFlight added their new data-driven basemap, but now they’ve made an important upgrade.
From the Maps page, tap the gear symbol at the top left, to open the Settings menu. Then tap Terrain and you’ll see three options: Colored, Shaded, None. The shaded option is new, and a lot less intrusive than the colored one – especially when there’s weather around. The advantage here is that you can have terrain on, while also overlaying aeronautical data and weather.
You’ll also notice the basemap loads a lot faster, and it also shows major roads, railroad tracks and national parks.
New SiriusXM weather layers
For pilots flying with the SXAR1 SiriusXM Receiver, there are three new layers available in flight, and they come at no additional cost. Next time you fly with an SXAR1, you’ll see options for Icing, Turbulence, and Surface Analysis layers; all three are included in the Pilot for ForeFlight subscription level. The Icing and Turbulence layers are forecast products, but they’re very helpful for planning a mid-flight reroute or for determining what altitude might offer an escape from the ice. It’s easy to switch between altitudes by using the slider bar in the lower right corner. The Icing layer even shows red dots to denote areas where supercooled large droplets (a dangerous phenomenon for airplanes) may be present. The turbulence chart (below) shows where the worst rides are in the flight levels.
Search for flights
This is a feature that’s more for fun, but it’s helpful for airline pilots or anyone looking to save time. From the Maps page, type in an N-number or airline flight number to see aircraft that are either in the air or or scheduled to depart in the next 24 hours. You can tap on a flight to load that route.
Weather layer time slider
Here’s an example of an update that is pretty minor, but makes a big difference. The play button to animate weather products has moved from the left side of the screen to the bottom, and there is a slider bar that allows you to view the previous five frames. Tap and drag the blue dot to go back and forth between frames – perfect for determining where that rain cell is moving or how fast a thunderstorm is building.
As usual, there are a number of smaller updates in version 9.3. These include:
- Step-climbs, common for many larger jets that cannot immediately climb to altitude on long flights, are now supported for pilots with a Performance Plus subscription.
- A new Add Next Flight button on the Flights page makes it a lot faster to plan multi-leg trips, as the app will save the payload and fuel policy from the previous flight.
- You can now share a PDF copy of your flight plan by tapping the Send-to arrow button at the bottom of the flight plan page. This is helpful for having the complete ICAO format either printed or saved on your iPad.
- There’s also a Next Entry button in the logbook section, to speed up logging of multiple flights.
- ForeFlight’s online flight planning tool also received some updates, including: printable navlogs that sync from your iPad; an improved navlog box that can be expanded; faster radar loading; Add Next Flight option for multi-leg flights.
ForeFlight 9.3 is available for download in the iTunes App Store.