Published in Midwest Flyer – June/July 2017 issue
Founded in 2007, “ForeFlight” is devoted to giving pilots the best possible mobile electronic flight planning tools for the best possible price using the Apple iPad or iPhone. The company has created fast, elaborate, and useful software for pilots that helps them to be more productive and safer, and to make each flight enjoyable.
ForeFlight reduces the need for costly and cumbersome paper maps and charts. Each subscription contains a full airport/facilities directory (A/FD), detailed weather, approach plates, airport diagrams, flight plan filing capability, and access to NOTAMS, and route and distance information. Information is obtained through a network of user-friendly menus and simple forward and back buttons.
The routing tool gives users the ability to obtain direction and distance information between two airports, as well as the most recent IFR-cleared routing. In addition to the standard A/FD information, ForeFlight has information on fixed base operators and transportation information. Other features include a recent screen that brings up recently searched airports with a color-coded weather report on the side. This feature is a quick and easy way to check the status of weather at an airport. The application called “Near Me” enables the pilot to do a quick search of airports and other information near him/her.
Another useful feature of ForeFlight is in identifying Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) and airports with the least expensive fuel.
Filing flight plans using ForeFlight could not be easier. Using a stored template of pre-filled information on the pilot and aircraft, all you need to do is update the flight plan with such items as “destination,” and “fuel” and “number of people” on board. And if for any reason you need to file a flight plan at the last minute, you can using ForeFlight.
Not only is ForeFlight a useful tool for preflight planning and enroute navigation, it can also provide hours of entertainment when not flying, which helps to maintain pilot proficiency.
Subscriptions start at $99.99 for “ForeFlight Basic Plus.” ForeFlight came about as a result of two software developers working on the same program who met via the Internet. Tyson Weihs was living in Texas and Jason Miller was living in Virginia. Both are pilots and decided to work together, rather than compete with one another. The company is now headquartered in Houston.
Tyson Weihs is cofounder and CEO. Weihs is a software developer and holds a Private Pilot Certificate. His first venture was Atension, a dorm-room startup company that was acquired by a public company in 1999. He then directed software engineering at BenefitFocus.
Prior to ForeFlight, Weihs was a venture partner with SMH Private Equity Group. He holds Bachelor of Science Degrees in Computer Science and Business Administration from Trinity University, and a Master of Business Administration from Rice University.
Jason Miller is cofounder of ForeFlight. He is a software engineer by training and holds a Private Pilot Certificate, instrument rating, and complex gear and high-performance endorsements. He currently co-owns a Cirrus SR22.
Prior to ForeFlight, Miller was Director of Technology at INCOGEN, a bioinformatics company. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Engineering from Clemson University.
Adam Houghton is a Principal and Vice President of Product Development at ForeFlight. Houghton has written software systems for Wyndham Hotels, Radio City Music Hall, and the Texas State Prison System. He has authored articles on mobile computing in Dr Dobbs Journal and IBM developerWorks. Prior to ForeFlight, Houghton was a founding member of the Advanced Computing Lab at SAS Institute. Houghton holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from Trinity University.
For additional information, refer to the ForeFlight website www.ForeFlight.com.
Like most online services, the customer service staff at ForeFlight is small and difficult to reach by telephone.
If you have a question, go to the ForeFlight website, check the list of general questions and answers, and if you still have a question, send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the name of the app you are inquiring about (ForeFlight Mobile, Checklist Pro), and what type of device you have (iPad, iPhone). That will allow ForeFlight to tailor its response. If you are unable to email ForeFlight, you can use the contact form on the Contact page of their website. The ForeFlight customer service department monitors their email from 6 am to 9 pm central time, 7 days a week, and they will get back to you as soon as possible.
So you are probably wondering if flying using only electronic charts is legal, or what happens if your iPad runs out of battery power, or just goes on the kaput? There’s an FAA Advisory Circular for just about everything, and there’s one on the use of electronic devices.
Advisory Circular (AC) 91-78 deals with the Use of Class 1 or Class 2 Electronic Flight Bags. This circular provides information on the removal of paper aeronautical charts and other documentation from the cockpit. You must also comply with FAR 91.21, Portable Electronic Devices. This regulation limits the use of electronic devices in the cockpit unless you have flight-tested and documented that the device does not interfere with your aircraft’s systems. Part 91, subpart F, requires operators to ensure compliance with FAR 91.503 at all times.
If you have successfully complied with the FARs, then you are completely legal to use the iPad for electronic charts, providing that the data is current and is a functional replacement of the paper version for Part 91 Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) or Visual Flight Rules (VFR).
But do you need a backup? While the FAA does not require pilots to carry paper, Advisory Circular 91-78 suggests pilots consider carrying a secondary source of aeronautical information. The secondary source could either be paper charts or another separate electronic display. And like any electronic device, even the iPad can run low on battery life. Therefore, it seems like a good idea to keep your iPad charged at all times, and consider getting a charger that is especially made to use with the USB cable that comes with your iPad (check with the Apple Store). The problem with that is, if you are charging the iPad, you cannot use a “Bad Elf” to increase your GPS signal strength during your flight – at least until someone comes out with a dual-purpose plug. If you know of one, please email info@MidwestFlyer.com so we can share this information with our readers. Thank you!