Today ForeFlight released version 6.4 of the flight planning and navigation app for pilots, adding a collection of practical new features and additions for iPhone and iPad. These updates add enhanced performance planning capabilities, the option to view VFR World Aeronautical Charts (WAC), and new aircraft profile and flight plan sync capabilities in addition to a firmware update to Stratus 2 that unlocks a new flight data recorder feature.
Stratus 2 Flight Data Recorder
Stratus 2 was released nearly a year and a half ago and continues to be the most widely-used portable ADS-B receiver in aviation. One of Stratus’ unique features is that its capabilities continue to grow with free updates, much like the ForeFlight app itself. The Stratus has grown from what was once simply a portable ADS-B weather receiver to an in-flight traffic system, backup attitude and heading display in ForeFlight, and now an integrated flight data recorder.
To update your Stratus 2 firmware, first update the ForeFlight app to version 6.4 in the App Store, connect your iPad to Stratus, go to the Devices section of the app and select Stratus 2 on the right side of the screen. In the firmware line you’ll see the note “tap to update” — simply tap and ForeFlight will take care of the rest (check out this video for more detailed on instructions on performing the firmware update).
After completing both the ForeFlight and Stratus updates, you’ll see a new option in the Stratus Status section of the Maps page, accessed from the settings button at the top of the screen. Here you can enable Stratus flight data recording and view previously recorded track logs. Here’s how it works:
- With the feature enabled, Stratus will start recording automatically when the unit is powered on and the built-in GPS senses motion.
- Stratus 2 records position, speed, and altitude data throughout each flight onto the receiver’s built-in memory.
- Stratus 2 records approximately twenty hours of GPS and AHRS data, including position, speed, and altitude data throughout each flight.
- After your flight, seamlessly transfer the Track Log data to ForeFlight Mobile where the logs are available to view, share, and debrief on all of your devices, as well as on foreflight.com.
Flight recording is a great tool for flight instructors and new pilots to visually debrief each flight. Students can see progress over time as they practice maneuvers and instructors can reinforce the effects of wind on performing those maneuvers. In addition, you always have a record of your flights to help with filling out your logbook.
While ForeFlight also includes a basic track-logging feature in the app, we’ve heard from several pilots saying they often forget to start the recording process leaving them with no data after the flight. The Stratus 2 data recorder eliminates the potential for this since it automatically begins recording when the airplane starts moving.
Enhanced Performance Planning
Up to this point ForeFlight’s performance planning capability was fairly basic, allowing you to enter a planned true airspeed and fuel burn for the entire flight. This was useful for getting rough fuel numbers but was not a very precise way to plan performance numbers for a flight. A new feature aims to improve on the planning accuracy here by allowing you to enter different speeds and fuel burn values for the climb and descent phases of flight. Adding these details to your aircraft profile will allow the app to generate a more accurate fuel burn and time en route estimate (ETE) for the planned route.
To enter this data for your airplane, load the Route Editor in the Maps view, tap the Edit button in the bottom right of the window, and tap the aircraft N# in the upper left of the box. Here you’ll see your stored aircraft profiles — simply tap the “i” button to edit one of these (or use the “+” button in the upper right if you have not entered your aircraft data yet). Scroll down the list and you’ll then see options to add taxi fuel use, and performance values for climb, cruise and descent.
As you plan your route in the Maps view, the app will now calculate your performance numbers with increased accuracy. The winds aloft forecast is integrated into your flight performance calculation, adjusting for things like more time in climb the higher your planned altitude and the winds at different altitudes during your climb and descent. These calculations give you a more precise fuel burn and time enroute estimate, especially for aircraft that spend more time in the climb phase to reach a higher cruise altitude.
ForeFlight 6.4 includes a few other new features as well:
World Aeronautical Charts (WAC) – these long-range VFR planning charts cover the Continental US, Alaska, northern Mexico, and the northern Caribbean are now available as an overlay in the Maps view. You must enable them first in the Downloads section of the app, under United States, before the WAC option will show in the Map Layers.
- New syncing options – ForeFlight added aircraft profiles and and flight plans to the data that will now sync between multiple iPads and iPhones on the same account. This is especially convenient given the detailed performance data you can now enter for each airplane, and can save a lot of time when using the app to get preflight weather briefings and file flight plans. Check out this article for information on the ForeFlight syncing features.
ForeFlight version 6.4 is available as a free update for existing subscribers. New users can download the app here and try it out free for 30 days.
Click here for more information or to purchase the Stratus 2 portable ADS-B weather and traffic receiver for ForeFlight.