Routing, Made Easier
If you're a big-picture kind of thinker, the new route advisor in ForeFlight should be right up your alley. Say you're planning to fly IFR from Oakland to Burbank. Just enter the two airports in the new route field and they appear as colored blocks in the route advisor. This may seem like a trivial change, but have you ever tried to position the iPad's cursor on a long route field just to edit a single waypoint? 'Nuff said.
|Route Advisor makes editing waypoints easier|
Once you've entered your departure and destination airports, tap on the Routes button to see recent ATC routings (if any exist for your airport pairs). The routing history can go back up to a year.
|Routes recently assigned by ATC|
If you want to add a SID or a STAR, just tap on the Procedure button. The list shows SIDs for your departure and STARs for your destination, but instrument approach procedures for your destination are not shown.
|Departure and Arrival procedures|
|Select an arrival, then the desired transition|
Tapping on the altitude button on the lower left side of new route field provides a quick way to choose the IFR or VFR altitude for your direction of flight that offer the most advantageous winds aloft. Simply select VFR or IFR, then Westerly or Easterly (or All), and you'll see an estimated time en route and fuel consumption. Remember these times and fuel figures do not account for fuel- and time-to-climb.
|Altitude advisor could save you some $ on gas.|
An earlier release of ForeFlight introduced a ruler showing the distance between two points on a chart as well as an estimated time en route and cruise fuel consumption. The new ruler is even better because it persists when you move your two fingers off the chart until you tap again on the chart. And the ruler now shows a magnetic heading, too. Nice!
|New ruler makes diversions a snap|
For part 91 subpart K, part 121, and part 135 operators, ForeFlight's preflight briefing has now received Qualified Internet Content Provider status from the FAA. QICP doesn't make much different to the average part 91 flyer, but could be crucial to other operators.
Since the time of departure affects the winds aloft displayed, the time button should appear higher in the route advisor hierarchy of buttons.
Everyday I encounter pilots flying WAFDOF - wrong altitude for direction of flight. ForeFlight already knows the magnetic course for the selected route, so why not automatically suggest appropriate VFR altitudes based on the initial departure course? Maybe it would help some of those confused pilots out there to fly the correct altitude for direction of flight. Couldn't hurt.
The route advisor doesn't support the concept of alternate airports, which is a bummer. However this is consistent with Garmin's G1000 and earlier GPS implementations, which do not provide any support for entering an alternate airport (except for the now discontinued CNX80/GNS480). Why this hasn't been addressed by Garmin and others is a bit of a mystery.
The Procedure feature needs to be enhanced to provide automatic chart binders for departure, destination and alternate. Jeppesen Mobile FD supports two alternates and it one of the few innovative things they've done with their app.
Time- and fuel-to-climb and time- and fuel-to-descend support is still not provided. Implementing this feature is complicated since different aircraft manufacturers have different ways of providing climb data. Many aircraft manufacturers don't provide any descent planning data. Still ...
This may be beyond ForeFlight's control since they get briefing data from DUAT, but (this just in) the NOTAM display is a mess. Until the FAA get's their act together and separates ADS-B and TFRs into separate NOTAM categories, it would be nice if ForeFlight could do some filtering. Having to wade through meaningless ADS-B boilerplate and semi-permenant TFRs just to get to changes to instrument approach procedures is an accident waiting to happen.
The briefing window needs two panes: One on the left side showing all the briefing categories and one on the right showing the content of the selected category. And it would be cool if the categories changed color to help you remember the ones you've already reviewed.
Lastly, it would revolutionary if ForeFlight could find a way to integrate the graphical display of AIRMET/SIGMET and TFRs into the briefing output. Trying to assemble a connect-the-dots, mental picture of AIRMET or SIGMET boundaries based on VOR identifiers is soooo 1960's.
Considering Upgrade or Purchase?
If you're a current ForeFlight subscriber, upgrading is a no-brainer because it's free. If you're considering the purchase ForeFlight, it's hard to see how you could go wrong. ForeFlight offers a ton of features and the improvements just keep coming. Check it out!