Here’s the reality of general aviation flying in 2019 – touchscreen avionics are the new norm, subscription-free in-flight datalink weather is available nationwide, and we will soon have electric powerplants. Want to find about a runway closure or ILS status before you depart? You’ll have to step into the time machine of technology to retrieve that data and use your secret decoder ring to make sense of the shorthand text. That’s the expectation if you rely on FAA or Flight Service websites for your preflight information.
If you use an aviation EFB app on an iPad for your preflight briefings and digital charts, then you’re already ahead of the game. iOS apps like ForeFlight do a great job at increasing the visibility of important NOTAMs throughout the app. You’ll find NOTAMs pertaining to the taxiways, runways and instrument approach procedures in a red box right on the respective chart, and runway closures are highlighted with a bold red banner when viewing airport information.
There is still plenty of room for improvement though, and ForeFlight is looking for feedback from pilots to make the system even better. They recently launched a NOTAM Rater website that displays a random FAA NOTAM in its native coded text, followed by a series of questions. You can review as many NOTAMs as you’d like, and ForeFlight plans to use the data collected from pilots to improve the location and presentation of this data in the ForeFlight app.