ForeFlight moves beyond DUATS

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For many long-time pilots, the Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUAT or DUATS depending on the provider) was a revolution. When it became available in the early 1990s, the concept of getting a weather briefing or filing a flight plan without calling Flight Service on the phone seemed incredible. And for over two decades, this was the standard for many pilots preparing for flight.

But today, pilots are turning more and more to the iPad for their weather information and flight planning needs thanks to the high-quality apps coming from companies like ForeFlight, Garmin and WingX. When these iPad and iPhone apps first hit the scene about six years ago, they relied primarily on DUATS to provide the weather briefing and flight plan services. Over the last few years though, Lockheed Martin Flight Service (LMFS) has been rolling out next-generation weather briefing and flight planning tools that tie directly into the air traffic system, providing a significantly improved user experience.

ForeFlight has been on the front lines of this transition, providing users with the ability to file flight plans and retrieve weather briefings seamlessly with LMFS. In fact, unless you went out of your way to enter your personal DUATS credentials, you’ve been using LMFS for these functions for well over a year whether you knew it or not.

ForeFlight now uses Lockheed Martin Flight Service to provide airway routing when using the Route Advisor.
ForeFlight now uses Lockheed Martin Flight Service to provide airway routing when using the Route Advisor.

Last week, ForeFlight made another behind-the-scenes update that further takes advantage of the Lockheed Martin services. Now when you use the Route Advisor feature in ForeFlight, the app will suggest an Airway route using the LMFS route provider. ForeFlight sums the improvements up best on its blog:

This enhancement brings quicker response times and more accurate and direct routing for user-provided origin and destination pairs. 

Lockheed Martin provides proper entries and exits onto and off of the airways so that clicking on the suggested route and loading it as a flight plan should be a seamless process. Previously this was not always the case with DUATS and some routes failed to load properly.

In addition to leveraging Lockheed Martin’s routing engine, we implemented server-side caching on routes that will provide an instant response for routes that have been recently searched by other users.

There is no app update required to take advantage – you’ll experience it the next time you open the app and use Route Advisor.

It’s no secret that DUATS’ days are limited. Its contract expired just a few weeks ago on March 16, and it’s now operating month to month as the FAA continues to evaluate and verify that the services they currently provide are obsolete, discontinued, or covered by other systems already in place.

ForeFlight has gone so far as to recommend pilots discontinue using the DUATS features in the app in favor of the modernized web service technologies provided by Lockheed Martin. This only requires that you remove your DUATS credentials by going to the More tab -> Accounts-> CSC DUATS, and then press Sign Out.

12 COMMENTS

  1. But does LMFS maintain retrieivable records that I can present to the FAA documenting that I have checked the WX, etc?

  2. I should clarify my concern. I know that if I log into LMFS my briefing is recorded, but if I access LMFS via ForeFlight is the briefing recorded, since I don’t appear to be using my LMFS credentials?

  3. Thank you John for the link. I still do have a concern. The FAQ you referred me to specifically says “When I file my Flight Plan…” I often do not file for local flights. Will I get a briefing summary if I only request a wx briefing and TFR summary?

  4. Also, Foreflight keeps a record of the briefing you get for 15 days, provided you tap the “Brief” button. If you simply look at METARs and TAFs in the app, such as on the Airports page, they don’t keep a record of that. ICAO flight plan briefings are kept by Lockheed Martin Flight Services.

    • Thanks. Fifteen days is a rather short period. Do you know if all wx briefings are e-mailed to the user, or just briefings associated with flight plans? If not it might be prudent to log into LMFS directly instead of using ForeFlight.

  5. ForeFlight retains copies of the flight plans and briefings indefinitely. In the event you need to have a copy of the plans / briefings, we can produce that if requested by the account owner (e.g. you). LMCO also retains copies, so there are two levels of retention.

    We will eventually have a user interface for customers to go back through history to see copies if they wish, delete them, etc.

    If your subscription expires, however, the data may be removed after a period of time to keep things tidy.

    All the data is protected by our privacy policy, too.

  6. How soon can we expect to see use of indecipherable abbreviations in METARs, TAFs, NOTAMs & PIREPs discontinued?

  7. Amen to that. I love Foreflight but the METARS and TAFs coming from LMFS or DUATS need to have a plain language option. I know most of us can figure out the abbreviations but the plain language is so much easier and quicker in my opinion.

  8. Don’t do away with the coding. I can read the coded version much much faster than the plain English version – especially for a long or complex flight plan. The code may be an anachronism but it works, it’s not hard to learn and it is very useful.

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