It’s official: the spring flying season is finally here. The weather is clearing up, airport ramps are stacked with transient airplanes, and Sun ‘N Fun starts next week in Lakeland, Florida. That also means new product announcements, and ForeFlight kicked that off today with the release of the new ForeFlight 9, packed with updates and lots of new features. Let’s dive right in so you know what to look for on your next flight.
One of the most critical emergencies in an airplane is a total loss of engine power. Depending on your altitude and nearby terrain, this situation may not afford you much time to choose the best way back to the ground.
To assist with your decision-making, ForeFlight added a new tool called Glide Advisor to help you plan a descent in the right direction and possibly make it back to a nearby airport. It uses terrain, GPS data, winds aloft (from ADS-B or SiriusXM), and your aircraft’s best glide speed and ratio to shape a glide range ring around your ownship icon on the moving map display.
You’ll want to set up your particular aircraft glide information before flight, which is accomplished from the main map settings screen. Scroll down towards the bottom of the list and you’ll see a Glide Advisor button and settings option.
Here you can enter temporary glide speed and ratio for the airplane you’re flying, or enter values for your saved aircraft profiles. The glide ratio can normally be found in your POH – a Cessna 172, for example, has a glide ratio of around 9:1 to 10:1 depending on weight and if the propeller is windmilling.
When in-flight, the glide advisor will roughly resemble the shape of a circle when flying over smooth terrain, but will shape around terrain contours in mountainous regions to highlight valleys and lower elevation areas.
ForeFlight has offered a standalone checklist iPhone app for many years now, and it was only a matter of time until this functionality made its way into their primary EFB app. The iPad’s large screen serves as an excellent checklist display and reduces additional cockpit clutter, especially when it’s integrated right into your primary navigation app.
To get started, head over to the More tab and select the Checklist option from the left-hand menu. The screen will initially be blank – tap the plus button in the upper right corner to start a new checklist.
You can then enter a new tail number, or select one of your existing aircraft profiles to add a checklist to that particular aircraft. Next select either the Basic Template option, or choose from one of ForeFlight’s variety of fixed-wing aircraft models, including Beechcraft, Cessna, Cirrus, Diamond, Grumman, Mooney, Pilatus, Piper, and TBM, as well as select Robinson rotorcraft models.
Each checklist has three main list groups at the top for quick access: Normal, Abnormal and Emergency. Each is broken down into logical groupings like you’d find in the POH, like preflight, before takeoff, etc.
When viewing a particular checklist, you can use the large Skip or Check buttons to quickly move through the items as you complete them.
Another benefit of using an electronic checklist is that it provides quick access to emergency procedures. ForeFlight’s checklist includes a red triangle button visible at all times in the top right corner, which will take you right to those procedures, sparing you the hassle of fumbling with paper procedures.
You can edit any aspect of the included checklists using the Edit button in the top right corner to add, rearrange or delete items. This is handy if you want to customize a checklist to suit specific avionics or types of operations. Previous users of ForeFlight’s checklist app who used account sync should see old checklists transferred over automatically.
The Checklist feature requires either a Basic Plus or Pro Plus subscription level.
ForeFlight added compatibility with the SXAR1 SiriusXM weather receiver last year, which provides satellite weather to the app. This offers some additional weather layers and greater coverage compared to ADS-B, but also requires a monthly subscription.
Pilots flying with this receiver can now receive SiriusXM Satellite Radio through the SXAR1 and listen to it through ForeFlight. This requires an additional subscription, but it’s discounted for existing SiriusXM Weather subscribers. To listen to music, pair your Bluetooth headset or audio device (like your aircraft’s built-in Bluetooth audio system) to the SXAR1 and use the ForeFlight interface to browse and select radio stations. The SXAR1 provides audio to one Bluetooth audio device at a time – make sure you pair your headset or audio panel to the SXAR1 and not your iPad.
You can select the SiriusXM channel from either More>Devices>SXAR1, or from the Map settings drop-down menu.
You’ll also see a new surface wind analysis layer on the moving map when flying with the SXAR1 that shows a high-resolution view of surface winds generated by forecast models. The traditional surface winds layer is still there, with the main difference being that those are observed winds at airports.
The logbook continues to improve with each ForeFlight update and ForeFlight 9 adds two additional pieces of information to keep you more informed. When viewing your Aircraft list in Logbook, you will now see details including aircraft make/model, category/class, gear type, and total hours in that aircraft. It’s a helpful design detail that provides more visibility into your logbook data and also makes it easier to select the correct aircraft for your flight entry.
Flight Instructors can also now use the currency tracker in the logbook to remind them when it’s time to renew every 24 calendar months. To use this option you must first add a CFI certificate to the logbook, and then enable the Flight Instructor option from the list of currency tracker options.
Additional improvements in ForeFlight 9
- Create Custom Overlays With New User Map Shapes –> you can import KML files into ForeFlight to create custom shapes on the map. This could be used to identify flight school practice areas or for other navigation needs.
- Device Disconnect Alert –> ForeFlight will provide a visual and audio alert when it senses a portable device or panel-mount interface loses connection in an effort to get your to attention to start troubleshooting.
- Document Support: View Word, Powerpoint, and Excel Files in ForeFlight –> ForeFlight Documents now includes support for Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files. Import and save your POH, local procedures, common radio frequencies, or any other .docx, .pptx, or .xlsx file for easy access in ForeFlight’s Documents view.
- Dark theme –> You’ll find a new App Theme option in the main app settings that will change the appearance of ForeFlight’s menus to a dark background with white text for easier viewing at night. This will not affect the appearance of charts – you’ll still need to use the Invert Chart Colors option in the main app settings to change that view option.