ForeFlight announced another major update at Sun ‘n Fun last week and this new version is now available for download in the app store. This release includes a wide variety of new features that all pilots will benefit from, including an upgraded Procedure Advisor for help with instrument procedures, significantly reduced download times, a new Chart Touch feature for displaying chart legends on the moving map, a new Cabin Altitude Advisor tool, Apple Watch support and a new web-based flight planner.
Upgraded Procedure Advisor
ForeFlight’s new Procedure Advisor feature contains advanced instrument planning and routing features that exceeds the capabilities of many panel-mount avionics systems available today. To take advantage of this system, tap the Procedure button in the Route Planner section of the app and you’ll see a new Preview window appear. On the left side you’ll see a listing of Departures (SIDs), Arrivals (STARs) and instrument approaches appropriate to the airports in your active flight plan.
Tap either Departure or Arrival and ForeFlight will display a color-coded, birds-eye view of the all the procedures and transitions inbound or outbound from the airport for easy planning. This will save you lots of time during flight planning and eliminates the need to flip through each procedure to determine which is best-suited for your direction of flight.
Next tap the name of the procedure you’d like to load, the name of the transition, and tap “Add to Route” to load it into your active flight plan. You can also tap the visual depiction of the procedure on the map preview to load it as well.
When it comes time to plan for the instrument approach at your arrival airport, tap Procedure again and select Approach. ForeFlight will automatically identify which approach is most favorable based on the current winds when either internet or ADS-B weather is available. You’ll then see a listing of initial approach fixes (IAF) or the option to choose Vectors to Final. Choosing one of the fixes will add that and all subsequent waypoints to your flight plan. Vectors will draw a line on the map that is a 30 NM extension of the final approach course and set the route to intercept the final approach course 3 NM outside the final approach fix (FAF).
If you selected one of the initial approach fixes in your flight plan and want to later switch to Vectors to Final, you can access a shortcut by tapping the green approach procedure name in the Edit view of the Route Planner and select the option to Activate Vectors to Final.
Improved download times
Up to this point you were required to download all charts and data during each update cycle, even if there were no changes or updates to any of the charts. To help improve this process ForeFlight now incorporates a feature called Delta Downloads, which will analyze the data during each cycle and only download the changes, resulting in a 70% to 90% reduction in download time without compromising chart quality. Delta Downloads includes terminal procedures, taxi charts, IFR and VFR charts, FAA A/FD, and Canada Flight Supplement data. This feature will be rolling out over the next few weeks, and there is nothing for the pilot to do–it’s automatic.
Because the FAA still designs and publishes digital charts using the same regions as the paper chart equivalent, aviation app developers like ForeFlight are required to stitch each together to provide the singular sectional image for the entire US. One of the downsides to this process is that it traditionally “stripped” the legend panels that are included on the side panel of each chart. This contains valuable information, like chart legends, ATC communication frequencies and details on special use airspace. Previously the only way to view this data was to download the legends separately in the Documents section of ForeFlight.
A new enhancement, called Map Touch, now allows you to display this information right on the large moving map page. You’ll need to first enable this by going to Settings > Map Touch Action > Bring chart to front with legends. Now tap anywhere on the VFR sectional or IFR en route chart to load the legend panel for any chart on the map.
While we’re discussing new chart features, you’ll also notice that Sectionals and TAC charts are now listed by chart name (typically a city in the chart region) in the Downloads section of the app–there were previously listed by state.
Cabin Altitude Advisor
The new Cabin Altitude Advisor helps to keep pilots flying at high altitudes more aware of cabin pressure status and any unplanned changes. Cabin Altitude Advisor takes advantage of the barometer sensor built-in to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Air 2. The advisor alerts pilots when crossing through 12,000 feet MSL and 25,000 feet MSL. The audio and visual alert triggers once every 30 minutes for each altitude. Pressure Altitude is also available to display in the instrument panel.
Apple Watch support
The Apple Watch hit stores over the weekend and several aviation apps have already been updated to work with the new device. When used with an iPhone running ForeFlight (Apple Watch doesn’t support iPad compatibility yet), you can use the Apple Watch as a secondary screen to display key information on the ground and in flight. It allows you to view text weather and airport conditions, in-flight ADS-B weather from Stratus, customizable flight instruments, flight notifications, timers and more.
Web flight planner
While not directly related to this version 7.0 app release, ForeFlight announced last week that a new online flight planner will soon be available. ForeFlight Web replicates much of the look and feel of the iOS app’s Maps page, making it useful and intuitive for preflight planning. You can view the map layers you’re used to from the app, including IFR and VFR charts, street maps and aerial imagery. Overlay that with weather radar, METARs, TFRs and satellite for a complete look at the weather. The desktop environment is a really great way to review complex weather systems, with easy panning and zooming. There’s also the familiar search box to help you find airports and plan routes.
When you’re done planning a flight, your route is automatically synced with your iPad, so you can plan your flight at home and be ready to go as soon as you get in the airplane. This will also be a very popular feature with fleet operators, since a dispatcher can plan the flight and then send important route information to each pilot’s iPad.
ForeFlight Web is in beta right now, and will initially be available to existing ForeFlight customers – so it’s not a finished product. To sign up for the beta program, visit foreflight.com/web.