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ForeFlight 12 adds new 3D tools, G1000 data import, and more

Ten years to the day after Apple announced the iPad, ForeFlight released version 12.0 with some gee whiz features as usual, but some thoughtful improvements may be the more noticeable changes. Here’s a look at the new features.

Cleaner PIREP formatting

One of the under-appreciated features in ForeFlight (or any electronic flight bag app) is its ability to translate large quantities of coded text into easily digested data. METARs and TAFs were once short chunks of code but are now simple and readable weather reports. You don’t even have to convert from Zulu time.

Pilot Reports (PIREPs) have been an exception. While these real time updates from fellow pilots are invaluable for avoiding ice, finding a smooth ride, or figuring out how thick the clouds are, the formatting is hardly uniform. In this update, ForeFlight is trying to improve that situation with automatically translated PIREPs. Just tap on a PIREP symbol on the Maps page and you’ll see both the raw text and a decoded report. This makes it easier to scan for aircraft type, altitude, and time.

This isn’t perfect—the wide variety of reports and the particular abbreviations unique to each controller or flight service specialist makes this a tricky thing to translate—but it’s a major improvement and makes it much faster to scan a variety of PIREPs. Just as you should with a METAR, be sure to review the raw text to make sure you haven’t missed any important details.

A new 3D view

The 3D view, available with Performance plans, definitely qualifies as a gee whiz feature but it has real value beyond impressing your passengers. Whether you’re debriefing a training flight or previewing an upcoming trip to an unfamiliar airport, this tool gives you a real world feel for the terrain around an airport.

The latest addition is a new camera angle, a so-called “exocentric view” that shows the airplane and route from the perspective of a chase plane. You can access this by tapping the 3D button in the FPL box (from the Maps page) or by tapping the 3D button on a track log (from the More page). The two buttons at the bottom left select the in-cockpit view or the chase plane view, and both now include a blue track line complete with altitude-appropriate height.

From the in-cockpit view, the app will simulate pitch and bank (if you recorded a flight with AHRS data, for example using a Stratus). From the chase plane view, you can pan and tilt to view all the surrounding terrain—a very helpful feature for making a complete evaluation of the area.

Garmin G1000 track logs

As track logs become a more important feature in ForeFlight, it’s important to be able to import them from as many devices as possible. The gold standard for track logging is a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit, and the app now supports importing these files.

The old fashioned way is to remove the SD card from your G1000, transfer the CSV file to a laptop, then email it to your iPad. This works, but starting with iOS 13, there’s an easier way. Your iPad can connect to an external SD card reader, which allows you to go directly to the Track Logs page from the More tab in ForeFlight. Tap the import button at the top right corner, choose Import from G1000 and find the correct track log. Once it’s imported (you’ll have the option to add a tail number if it’s a new airplane), this track log is treated like any other, whether it was recorded with the on-board GPS, a Stratus, or a G1000.

ForeFlight has a helpful video showing this in action:

Distance Rings get easier

Here’s another small change that makes a big difference. ForeFlight offers the option to display concentric range rings around your airplane, with either miles or minutes. It’s a nice aid to situational awareness, but it’s helpful to change between the options depending on the phase of flight. For example, we like to use minutes while in cruise flight (to help with fuel planning) but use miles around the airport (to help with identifying traffic).

Now it’s simple to switch back and forth. Just tap on any of the labels (e.g., 6nm) and a menu will pop up with the various options. You can turn Distance Rings on and off from the gear menu on the Maps page.

New Navlog template

Finally, ForeFlight has added a new option for the Navlog, which is accessed in the Flights tab. Select a flight from the left side list, then top on Navlog at the top to see a one page list of all essential information, from winds aloft to fuel remaining. You’ll notice a gear symbol at the top right corner now; tapping this brings up the option to use the Standard or International navlog template.

Both options show the same basic information, but the International style has more open space, which is particularly helpful if you like to print this out and mark it up. Here’s the Standard format at the top and the International at the bottom:

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Source: Ipad appsForeFlight 12 adds new 3D tools, G1000 data import, and more

FAA Issues Record of Decision for Denver Metroplex Project

WASHINGTONThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact/Record of Decision for the Denver Metroplex project. The Finding of No Significant Impact/ Record of Decision, as well as the Final Environmental Assessment, are available on theDenver Metroplex website.

The decision enables the agency to move forward with the project, which will use cutting-edge satellite navigation to move air traffic more safely and efficiently through the area. Satellite-based routes will allow for more direct and efficient routing of aircraft into and out of Denver and surrounding airports, enhancing aviation safety and efficiency, and potentially reducing flight delays.

Prior to making the decision, the FAA conducted thorough environmental reviews, including 24 public workshops and approximately 78 stakeholder briefings in the Denver metro area. The agency also held two public comment periods totaling 75 days and evaluated and responded to more than 975 comments.

The FAA plans to implement the procedures on March 26, 2020.

The FAAs environmental review for the project indicates some people will experience slight noise decreases, some will see no changes, and some will experience small noise increases. Additionally, some people might see aircraft where they did not previously fly after the Denver Metroplex procedures are implemented.

Some flight track dispersion will continue to occur after the new procedures are implemented because the Metroplex project includes a number of existing procedures. In addition, air traffic controllers will need to occasionally vector aircraft for safety or efficiency reasons or to reroute them around weather systems.

The Denver Metroplex website includes Google Earth features that enable people to view current and projected flight paths associated with the project.

Source: FAAFAA Issues Record of Decision for Denver Metroplex Project

How to use iPad audio to make flying safer

The iPad is an engaging visual tool, but many pilots forget about its many audio uses. Especially for those pilots who worry about spending too much “heads-down” time with the iPad, it’s worth understanding how apps use audio to make flying more efficient and safe. Let’s look at some of the options, and how to set up an audio connection to your headset.

ForeFlight TFR alert
ForeFlight offers a number of pop-up and audio alerts, including for TFRs.

EFB apps

ForeFlight is able to display a number of pop-up alerts to provide you with time-sensitive, location-based information. These alerts include runway proximity, traffic, cabin altitude, destination weather, terrain, TFRs, final approach runway and low altitude – learn how to customize the alerts here. There’s even an alert for weight and balance when your center of gravity is out of limits. What many pilots may not realize though, is that ForeFlight also provides audio alerts with these notifications.

A more recent addition to ForeFlight is the ability to hear a verbal checklist. Go to the More tab, then Checklist and notice the Speak button at the bottom. Tap this and the app will read your checklist to you, complete with any modifications to the text you’ve made. There are options to go faster/slower or to pause the audio, and you can even have the app read the full challenge and response (Mixture – Rich) format or just the challenge (Mixture). This is accessed in the Settings menu from the More page.

Garmin Pilot doesn’t have quite as many audio notifications, but there is an option for helpful traffic alerts when connected to one of their ADS-B Receivers. WingX provides helpful runway advisories via audio, as well.

Other audio apps

Besides the big EFB apps, there are some other audio apps worth trying. The Stratus Horizon Pro app offers a variety of features, including Stratus ADS-B receiver configuration and backup AHRS display. When connected to your iPad using the Stratus audio cable, it can also record all your cockpit and ATC audio, allowing quick internal playback of ATC instructions. This is great during flight training to debrief your lesson and radio calls, or to quickly review an ATC clearance without having to say “say again.”

Another audio-centric app called MiraCheck brings a high-tech audio checklist to the iPad. By integrating voice controls and voice recognition, it provides a heads-up and hands-free way to run normal and emergency checklists in flight, turning your iPad into a virtual copilot.

Headset manufacturer Lightspeed updated their free FlightLink app last year, which is compatible with all Lightspeed headsets manufactured since 2012. This allows you to record all activity over the intercom, including ATC and cockpit conversation, and play back the last two minutes of transmissions. There’s also a scratchpad tool to copy clearances as you listen.

Likewise, Bose offers a free app called Connect, which works with the company’s ProFlight series of lightweight headsets. The most interesting feature here is called Music Share, which allows you to pair two ProFlight headsets to one device, so a pilot and passenger could both listen to the same audio.

Headsets and adapters

All of these alerts and audio-based apps are a real benefit for pilots – no matter what you’re doing or what screen the app is on, you get important notifications when you need them. What can be problematic, though, is that the sounds coming from the iPad’s small speaker are typically drowned out by your airplane’s engine noise.

Headsets like the Bose A20 allow you to wirelessly receive audio from your iPad.
Headsets like the Bose A20 allow you to wirelessly receive music and alerts from your iPad apps.

Fortunately, most modern aviation headsets have audio inputs allowing you to route audio alerts directly into them to help get your attention. If you have a headset that offers Bluetooth audio compatibility, like the latest version of the Bose A20, all Lightspeed headsets, the David Clark One-X, or the new Faro Stealth 2 line, you can wirelessly connect it to your iPad. There are good options here between $250 and $1100. Passengers love this feature for music, but it’s valuable for pilots too.

To do this, first activate the Bluetooth pairing function on the control module (usually using the button with the Bluetooth “B” symbol on it), and you’ll see a status light flash on the headset control module. Next, go to the Settings app on your iPad, select Bluetooth from the list at the top left, and set the switch to on. You’ll soon see the name of your headset in the devices list – tap it, and your headset will “pair” with your iPad and establish the wireless connection. The term pair here is important because you can only connect one headset to your iPad at a time. Now all the audio that you would normally hear through the iPad speaker will play through your headset.

Stealth Link
The Faro Stealth Audio Link is a good way to add Bluetooth to an older headset.

You still have options if your headset is lacking a Bluetooth music interface. Many still feature an auxiliary audio input that allows you to connect an audio cable to the headphone jack on your iPad. This requires another wire, but it’s simple and reliable.

Alternately, you can add a small Bluetooth adapter to the audio input of your headset to add the wireless capability. The Faro Stealth Audio Link is compatible with any twin plug headset, and is an easy way to add Bluetooth to that older Bose or David Clark headset. This works for both phone and audio. And keep in mind that many audio panels also include auxiliary inputs that allow you to connect your iPad or other audio sources directly into your intercom, either with a wire or via Bluetooth.

One last note here: not all Bluetooth is created equal. You will see some headsets (like older Bose A20 and X models) advertise a Bluetooth cell phone interface, but unfortunately, this is only designed for voice phone calls and will not pass through music or other audio effects from the iPad. Also note that the Stratus Horizon Pro features

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Source: Ipad appsHow to use iPad audio to make flying safer

New training course available for GTN 650, 750 and Xi Navigators

Garmin has been moving at warp speed with its pace of innovation and new avionics announcements over the past several years. In addition to introducing new digital flight instruments, they also released new versions of their GTN navigators, the GTN 650Xi and 750Xi. These new models feature improved processing power, higher-resolution screens and were developed to be upgradeable as new features and hardware components are developed by Garmin.

Garmin also released a new training course to coincide with the new GTN hardware, called Garmin GTN Essentials 2.0. Available on Sporty’s Pilot Training platform, the comprehensive course shows step-by-step how to use every feature available in the GTN 650 and 750. The course takes you logically through the features of the GTN system and provides demonstrations of some commonly used techniques.

The 650/750 and 650Xi/750Xi hardware feature the exact same software interface, so the course is ideal for both existing GTN and new GTN Xi owners. The course includes 33 video segments and progresses logically from basic to advanced topics:

After covering how to use the core functions, the GTN Essentials course then moves into scenario-based training showing how to use its capabilities during each phase of flight:

The course incorporates short review quizzes mixed in with the video segments to help reinforce key learning points, and a final review quiz at the end to test your knowledge of the system.

The Garmin GTN Essentials 2.0 training course is available for $125 and includes a variety of platforms, including online in a web browser, iPhone/iPad access in Sporty’s Pilot Training app, Android app access and TV apps for AppleTV and Roku. You can try out a free demo of the Garmin GTN Essentials 2.0 for iPhone/iPad app here.

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Source: Ipad appsNew training course available for GTN 650, 750 and Xi Navigators