Just ahead of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, ForeFlight released version 7.2, the app’s fifth major update of 2015. This release includes some enhancements to their Sync and Flight Notifications products, an update to the Apple Watch version of the app, and support for the new Stratus 1S and 2S ADS-B receivers.
Flight Notifications is a really handy feature in ForeFlight, and one that we suspect most pilots aren’t using to the fullest. If you use the File & Brief tab in ForeFlight to get preflight briefings and file flight plans, the app can be set to automatically watch your proposed flight and alert you to anything that has changed since you last briefed. This includes significant changes in weather and important airport information:
- Airport or runway closure NOTAMs
- Urgent PIREPs
- Convective SIGMETs
- Center Weather Advisories (CWAs)
- Watches or Warnings along your route
The “Flight Notifications” button should be on by default, but if not, slide it to the right:
Once this is on, the notifications feature uses Lockheed Martin Flight Service’s powerful ACAS tool, and adds in some information that ForeFlight tracks. It’s a great way to plan your flight the night before a trip, then easily catch up on what’s new before takeoff. If a new alert comes in, you’ll see a red circle on the File & Brief tab. Tap on it and you’ll see the alerts listed with each flight plan:
Tap on the Alerts button and you’ll see the new graphical layout. This is much easier to understand than the mostly text layout before:
You can also tap on each individual notification to read complete details:
Two important notes on Flight Notifications: it requires an internet connection to get the updates, and it is a ForeFlight Pro subscription level feature.
Another subtle, but important upgrade involves ForeFlight’s winds aloft forecasts. These are really important for creating accurate time en route calculations and flight plans. Worldwide winds aloft forecast periods are moving from six hours to three hours, so they are now updated at 00Z, 03Z, 06Z, etc. For North America, Europe and Australia, the forecasts are even better: they are updated every hour and they are published in one hour increments out to 12 hours (from 12-30 hours they are in three hour increments).
That means pilots have much more accurate groundspeed numbers to use, especially when weather conditions are changing rapidly – it’s a 6X upgrade for US pilots, for example. Note that this improvement is used for flight planning, but winds are still only displayed in three hour windows on the airport page, to reduce clutter. The increase in resolution also does not apply to winds aloft delivered via the FAA’s ADS-B system.
Also included in version 7.2 is an update to ForeFlight’s Apple Watch app. The first version of the watch app was fairly basic, and while this update doesn’t add huge new features, it starts the inevitable evolution into a more powerful app. Pilots can now view up to 30 airports, sorted by Nearby, Recents and Favorites. This is a nice change, since checking weather at different airports is one of the best uses for the Apple Watch. We’d expect more to come in this department.
Finally, 7.2 also expands the information that is backed up and synchronized with ForeFlight’s Sync feature. This automatic system works in the background to keep all your devices updated, and it’s great for easily and quickly adding new devices to your account. The full list of data that is covered in Sync includes:
- Weight and balance profiles
- Recent routes, airports and weather imagery
- Favorite routes, airports and weather imagery
- User waypoints
- Flight notifications (see above)
- Filed flight plans
- Aircraft profiles
Finally, this version also supports the new generation of Stratus ADS-B receivers (covered in a recent article), which are now shipping. All Stratus 1S and 2S owners will need to update to 7.2.
ForeFlight version 7.2 is a free update, and is available for download in the App Store.