The big trend in aviation apps these days is adding wireless connectivity between the iPad and panel-mount avionics, which enables you to transfer things like aviation data, flight plans and GPS position info between the two pieces of hardware. ForeFlight and WingX Pro were the first to achieve this in 2012 through a partnership with Aspen Avionics and their Connected Panel system, which allows pilots to synchronize flight plans between the app, an Aspen Evolution MFD and a Garmin GNS 400W/500W series navigator.
Garmin naturally followed with their version of the system, called Garmin Connext, which goes a step further and allows pilots to transfer flight plans, XM music, ADS-B traffic/weather, AHRS and GPS position data between the Garmin Pilot iPad app and Garmin GTN 600/700 series navigators.
Today ForeFlight expanded its presence in the connected panel arena with a new app update that interfaces with the Dynon SkyView panel-mount avionics system. Dynon SkyView is a popular system for experimental and light-sport airplanes, delivering glass-cockpit flight instruments, synthetic vision, GPS navigation and engine instrumentation all on a single flat-screen display.
This new interface allows the iPad and ForeFlight to receive WAAS GPS and AHRS data from the panel, and enables flight plan syncing between ForeFlight and SkyView. In addition to the Dynon connectivity, this latest ForeFlight update adds an enhanced scratchpad feature to the app and a new new graphical winds aloft layer to the map view.
Connecting to SkyView
In order to enable the connectivity between Dynon SkyView and ForeFlight version 6.7, you must first update the software on each SkyView display to version 12.0. You’ll next need to buy a Dynon USB WiFi adapter (approximately $35) that plugs into the bottom of the SkyView display. Lastly, you’ll need to configure the WiFi network on the SkyView in the setup page by following the instructions in the installation guide.
After completing this initial setup, connect your iPad to the new WiFi network, open ForeFlight, go to the More page and verify the connection status on the Devices screen. Once connected ForeFlight will receive GPS position data directly from the WAAS GPS in the SkyView system. This is a great GPS solution if you have a WiFi-only iPad, or if you just want the reassurance of an externally-mounted GPS source. You’ll also receive pitch and bank data from the Dynon AHRS, which will drive the attitude indicator and synthetic vision features in ForeFlight.
Like the other connected panel systems on the market, you can also transfer flight plans between the panel-mount system and your iPad in both directions. To send a flight plan from ForeFlight to SkyView, tap the Send-To button in the bottom right corner of the Route Editor window and select Panel. That’s it — SkyView will automatically update the flight plan and make the appropriate leg active.
If you make a change to the flight plan on the SkyView panel and want to sync this to ForeFlight, simply press the Panel button at the top of the Maps page, and ForeFlight will instantly update the flight plan in the app.
What’s really nice about this new interface is the ease of use. Once connected to the WiFi network there is nothing for the pilot to do to start receiving GPS or AHRS data. And transferring flight plans requires significantly fewer steps than the other systems out there, which is in part due to the fact there were no certification hoops to jump through.
New Scratchpads in ForeFlight
The Scratchpad is all new in ForeFlight 6.7 and includes new templates to make this feature even more useful in the cockpit. The first thing you’ll notice is that you now have the option to use one of 4 new templates as a base layer when working with the scratchpad. These include custom layouts to help keep your aviation notes better organized when copying IFR clearances, ATIS or preparing to give a pilot report.
You can also store multiple scratchpads in the app, which comes in handy when recording an IFR clearance and ATIS separately on their respective templates. Each of your scratchpads are automatically synced via the cloud to all devices on the same account, and can also be shared via Messages or Mail. A stylus can really help here if you’re not a fan of writing with your finger–here’s a good option that also double as a traditional pen for less than $5.
Graphical Winds Aloft
This is a feature we’ve been wanting on for awhile and we’re glad to finally see implemented in ForeFlight. When on the Maps page you’ll see a new weather layer in the main drop-down menu called Winds Aloft, which graphically displays the upper level winds from 3,000′ up to 54,000′ worldwide. When enabled, a slider will appear on the right side of the screen to select the displayed altitude. You can then tap on an individual wind barb to see the exact speed and direction, temperature and valid time.
Graphical winds aloft can be very helpful when flight planning on the map page to help determine optimum routing and altitude across large areas. It’ll also help you get a better picture of larger scale weather patterns by viewing the trends in the wind speed and direction at various altitudes.
ForeFlight version 6.7 is a free update for existing subscribers and can be downloaded in the app store here.
Check out a video demo of the ForeFlight/Dynon connectivity in action: