With its new 6.0 release, ForeFlight continues to make a great product even better. Since its launch in 2008, ForeFlight has changed the way we manage our flights, and has introduced a whole new way to plan and execute them. "Revolutionary" is certainly a word that applies to ForeFlight, and this new release adds enhanced capabilities to the mobile app, and even more exciting, sets the stage for future enhancements.
First, "refinement" was the guiding concept for the development of release 6.0. Throughout the app, visual enhancements abound, making the user's interface with the app more elegant. ForeFlight was never a clunky app, but this new release is filled with subtle color changes, better icons, clearer navigation and overall design features that make it more pleasing to the eye. Though the basic functionality wasn't changed, the "user experience" was enhanced throughout.
In addition to tweaking the GUI (graphical user interface), Release 6.0 brings scads of enhancements, including a new profile view for terrain clearance, significant additions to flight plan filing capabilities, enhancements to Stratus, new ForeFlight Airport Diagrams and more. The new update does require iOS 7.1 or higher.
One of the most useful improvements is the introduction of computer-generated airport diagrams. Exclusive to ForeFlight, these diagrams provide moving-map layouts for airports that wouldn't otherwise have maps available. ForeFlight has built their own airport database, since the FAA only provides diagrams for a limited number of airports and nearly doubled their airport diagram coverage. The georeferenced maps provide annotations for tracing taxi routes, runway proximity advisor alerts, automatic display of the diagram upon landing and the ability to overlay the diagram on the moving map. The new diagrams are delivered as part of the normal update process for current subscribers on version 6.0 and up, and appear in the procedure/plate selection list for that airport.
Though it's only available in the ForeFlight Pro version, the new Profile View is impressive. It not only gives you a side view of terrain and obstacles along your planned route, but also adds dynamic color alerting, so you'll know whether your selected altitude will keep you clear of terrain and obstacles. To enhance your flight planning, the Profile View displays three values along the profile box that you can interact with:
• Highest—The highest terrain or obstacle along your route
• Clearance—Your vertical clearance over the highest terrain/obstacle along the proposed route
• First Strike—Distance (in nautical miles) from your origin or current position where your first impact with terrain/obstacle based on your current planned altitude
These tools let you evaluate different altitudes by displaying terrain profiles with simple touch gestures. For example, you can tap and hold anywhere in the profile window, look at the map below and see the corresponding point along your route highlighted, along with the terrain elevation at that point. Waypoints along your route are depicted as white vertical lines, and the waypoint name appears along the bottom of the Profile view. The view's in-flight mode works with the GPS and offers Aircraft mode, which only displays 50 nautical miles ahead on your track, and Route mode, which displays your entire proposed route. You'll also see two new instruments in the HUD: Height AGL and Height MEF. Height MEF is similar to VFR MEF and tells you the height of the highest obstacle or terrain within a 0.5-degree box around your current position.
Flight planning is significantly enhanced as ForeFlight continues to integrate with the many new features that Lockheed Martin AFSS has committed to bring to mobile apps. Release 6.0 brings the ability to activate and close VFR flight plans (in addition to filing), and an amend and cancel option for both VFR and IFR flight plans, all directly from the app. These are both big efficiency gains, saving pilots from making phone or radio calls to FSS. These new features are only available to pilots filing flight plans through Lockheed Martin and not through DUATS. The new flight plan options are selectable at the bottom of the "File and Brief" screen.
ForeFlight 6 comes with a free firmware upgrade for users of the popular Stratus 2, which enables two new features: a split screen attitude indicator view and Stratus Replay. Stratus' built-in Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS) drives the new split-screen attitude indicator view, providing backup attitude information to ForeFlight. The attitude display includes pitch, bank, ground speed, track and altitude. With it, you can now view ADS-B weather, traffic, moving map and attitude information on a glass-cockpit style split-screen display on your iPad. Pilots flying without Stratus can still display split-screen flight instruments, but the attitude display will be removed. Note that animated ADS-B radar is available to both ForeFlight Standard and Pro subscribers and on Stratus 1 and 2.
Stratus Replay can effectively double the battery life of your iPad by allowing you to turn off the screen between uses. When the screen is turned on again, Stratus automatically sends ForeFlight any ADS-B weather that was missed, including radar, METARs, TAFs and PIREPs. This enhancement offers six-plus-hour battery life for your iPad and Stratus, which can be helpful on long cross-countries. Stratus Replay is only available on Stratus 2.
ForeFlight version 6 is available as a free update to current subscribers in the App Store. To update the Stratus firmware, connect your iPad to Stratus, open ForeFlight and go to the Stratus Status page. "Tap to update" the Stratus firmware.
With Version 6, ForeFlight has released a product that's maturing to become one of the most useful and affordable products for both VFR and IFR pilots. ForeFlight is also one of the most user-driven companies in aviation, where they listen intently to their installed customer base for ideas, enhancements and fixes. ForeFlight moves fast, and by the time this goes to print, there will be more features that make flying easier and enable better decision making. Visit foreflight.com for the latest.
|LEFT: ForeFlight's airport database displays taxi diagrams. The Pro version allows annotation on the screen. RIGHT: The new Profile view allows users to evaluate different planned altitudes to see the effect of terrain or obstacles. Color warnings change with different altitudes.|