Most of the major navigation apps we use are packed with more features than we could ever understand. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some really useful tools available if we know how to use them. In reality, being a power user often means simply knowing the basics, then adding on a collection of smaller tips.
With that in mind, here are 5 helpful tools that are available in ForeFlight Mobile:
- Use the ruler to measure time en route, weather deviations and more. ForeFlight’s ruler tool is one of the most useful features of any app we’ve flown with. It’s simple, but powerful–just tap the map with two fingers at the same time, and a ruler appears. You can stretch or turn the ruler to measure anywhere on the screen. Let go and the ruler stays there until you tap somewhere else. Besides a line, the ruler displays the course, distance, time en route and fuel burn. This is a great way to plan deviations around weather, top of descent points, airspace avoidance, fuel stops and any number of other things. Use your imagination–you’ll be surprised how often you use this.
- Use the Route Advisor to file like a pro. Knowing what route to file is always a struggle for IFR pilots, but a new feature in ForeFlight helps. Once you’ve entered your route (on the Maps page) and the NavLog is showing, tap Edit. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see a button called Routes. Tapping this will display a list of routes that other airplanes have been cleared to fly for the same departure and destination airport. The list also shows the altitude, so you don’t file a Gulfstream route in your Bonanza. Just tap a route to load it into your active flight plan.
- Search for an airport or navaid and keep your route active. Let’s say you have a brutally complex route you’re flying (between Boston and Washington, for example), but you want to find a nearby airport. You don’t want to clear out your route just to look up the airport, and ForeFlight has a way to do this. With your route active in the Edit/NavLog window, just search for the airport (or navaid) in the search box at the top right. This will center the map on the airport and highlight it with four blue arrows, but your route will stay active. When you’re ready to go back to navigating, just tap the cross-hair symbol at the top right.
- Activate a leg when you’re told to “intercept the airway.” On many departure procedures, ATC will give you a vector, then tell you to intercept the airway on that heading and fly the departure. That’s easy to do on ForeFlight. From the NavLog, find the leg you want to intercept and tap the arrow symbol that is between the two waypoints. A menu will pop up with three options–fly direct to the 2nd waypoint, fly the leg or cancel. Choosing to “fly leg” means the airway will still be depicted (not a present position-direct, which would be wrong), and it will be the active leg.
- Adjust your departure time for accurate winds aloft. This is helpful for pre-flight planning. If your flight is departing in the next 24 hours, ForeFlight will automatically include forecast winds aloft to give you a more accurate time en route and fuel burn. By default (if you just enter your route with no time), the app will assume your flight is leaving immediately. But if you’re not departing for a few hours, it’s easy to change that and get the right winds aloft forecast. On the NavLog, tap Edit, then ETD on the right side. You can quickly choose the day and time of your departure, and ForeFlight will immediately update your time and fuel burn.
There are plenty of other quick tips we’ll share in future articles, including those for Garmin Pilot and WingX. For now, let’s hear from you. What’s your favorite shortcut or trick you use in ForeFlight?