ForeFlight has maintained its relentless pace of updates in 2020, with this week bringing the eighth major release of the year. Version 12.7 builds on the 3D weather tools we reviewed earlier this month, plus adds enhancements to internet traffic, and traffic pattern entries. Here’s a summary.
3D weather preview
The most visually striking new feature is an extension of the icing and turbulence forecast maps into three dimensions. This feature, which requires a performance plan, takes the familiar blue and yellow maps and adds them to the 3D preview tool. This mode allows you to simulate a flight, complete with satellite imagery of the terrain you’re flying over.
From the Maps page, enter a route in the FPL box then tap the globe icon at the bottom of the window. This will launch the 3D view and you’ll notice a new map layers button at the bottom left corner. Tap this to select either the icing or turbulence layer, and you’ll notice a new layer on the 3D view, made up of tiles.
This is more than just a static page. You can choose first person (inside the cockpit) or third person (chase plane), and use the slider bar at the bottom of the screen to move throughout the flight. This works either by tapping the play button and the speed button next to it, or by manually scrubbing through the flight using the timeline. In the third person view, you can pan and zoom with your fingers to look around the route. Tap the route button at the top right to jump to a waypoint in your route, and use the slider bar at the right to pick an altitude for the weather forecast. You can tap the RTE button at the top of the altitude slider bar to see weather at your altitude—this is most useful during climb or descent, since the app will follow your airplane’s altitude with the weather forecast layers.
This makes it easy to quickly test different scenarios: can you fly above or below the ice? Slide the altitude slider and see where there might be a gap. For example, in the below screenshot you can see that ice is forecast at FL260, so climbing up will put you in an area of moderate icing.
Remember that you can compare this 3D view to the 2D view by returning to the Maps page and turning on the map layer. This helps get a good overall view of the weather conditions.
Internet traffic, another recent feature, gets an upgrade too. Now you can search for an N-number or flight number in the main search box at the top of the Maps page. ForeFlight will offer smart suggestions, and offer the option to tap on an active flight to see it highlighted on the map. This requires an internet connection, but it works even if the Traffic layer is turned off.
Traffic is also available online now, in ForeFlight’s browser-based planning tool. Just like you would in the app, choose the Traffic layer to see active airplanes. Click on a traffic symbol for details.
ForeFlight’s Procedure Advisor is one of the most helpful tools in the entire app, visually displaying available arrivals, departures, and approaches in a way that makes it easy to choose. VFR pilots have a version of this too, and version 12.7 adds new features.
From the Maps page, enter a destination airport in the FPL box. Then tap Procedure on the right and choose Traffic Pattern. ForeFlight will show all available runways, with a suggestion for the best runway based on current wind conditions. After choosing a runway, select the arrival (45 degrees, teardrop, midfield, etc.) and add it to your flight plan.
This will draw the traffic pattern entry on the map and highlight the final approach course, which really helps situational awareness. You can also add pattern altitude to your flight plan, which is a good reminder. This can be done from the Procedure Advisor (above) or by tapping on the gray traffic pattern bubble in the FPL window. Tap “Set Pattern Altitude” and enter your desired altitude. Note that the app will suggest the most common ones.
As always, this update includes numerous bug fixes and small feature enhancements. One we particularly like is the cleaned up FBO fuel prices page. This shows self serve and full serve prices for both avgas and Jet A, plus contract fuel prices above (if you use ForeFlight’s JetFuelX service).