Foreflight without GPS

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by iamtheari, Mar 15, 2016.

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  1. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Hi everyone. I am a new POA user but I have often stumbled upon threads here in searching for knowledge about anything airplane-related. I am a recently-minted private pilot (ASEL) and starting on my instrument rating. While working on my PPL, I went through a few cycles of sectional charts and the A/FD for my area. I'm close to a sectional border so I had to keep two at all times. Add in the IFR charts and approach plates and it was a no-brainer to switch to Foreflight just to save money on charts.

    The app makes it almost too easy to plan a flight, which is a good thing because you spend no time at all planning the flight and can spend all of your planning time investigating whether it's a good idea to make the flight given the weather, which is also very quick to obtain and easy to interpret in the app. I haven't flown much cross-country with it although I did rely on it instead of paper charts for my student dual night cross-country, the trip to my PPL check ride, and the cross-country portion of the check ride itself. However, I have not yet invested in a Stratus or other GPS source for my WiFi-only iPad. So I have used a written flight log for actually keeping track of my position and estimated time to the next checkpoint. That seems kind of tedious and backwards.

    Does anyone else use Foreflight without a GPS in the air? Is there a better way to keep track of where you are, your time over checkpoints, and your ETE to upcoming checkpoints than my method of keeping that on a paper navlog? Foreflight has so many other nice features that let you skip paper and pencil, such as the scratchpads with PIREP, CRAFT, ATIS, and other forms available to make quick notes. So the only thing I have a pencil handy in the cockpit for is a navlog, which seems like the last thing I should need if I am using Foreflight.

    One thing I am especially concerned about is required IFR position reports when out of radar contact. That's something that could actually come up in my flying in the real world given my remote location, and in the event it does pop up on me I am sure it will be while flying solo without an autopilot in the clouds at night so I'll have little hope of surviving the cockpit hunt for the paper, pencil, E6B, and other tools necessary to put together a navlog with accurate time information while in the air.

    Another question is whether Foreflight actually does take care of these details in the navlog for you if it has a GPS source. I assume it does but obviously have not tried it out.

    I'm sure I'll get a helpful response or two out of the knowledgeable crowd here. Probably at least one person will tell me that the new price on a Stratus 1S is only about 4 hours of flying time so I should just buy it already. Someone else will Google me and figure out I have hand-wired a couple of guitar amplifiers and could just build my own position and ADS-B source thanks to this thread, which really is a tempting proposition. I hope that there are other helpful responses, too, though. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    If you need a GPS receiver on the cheap that will work with FF, I have a Dual XPS150 that I don't need and would sell. $80 vial PayPal with free shipping to a CONUS address. And that's an hour of aircraft rental, maybe a bit less.

    Connects to your phone/tablet via Bluetooth.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You can build your own Stratus clone very cheaply

    http://stratux.me/

    There are a couple threads here, just search for Stratux
     
  4. Somedudeintn

    Somedudeintn Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've got the dual 150 and it works really well with foreflight. I'd pick one of those up...
     
  5. G-Man

    G-Man Line Up and Wait

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    Echoing what these folks have said. The Dual GPS 150 is a fine basic unit and AggieMike is honorable.

    A full-blown Stratux with AHRS and all that will run you $180 with battery and without case - or, mine did.
    Sure, you could use ForeFlight without a GPS but the minimal investment for a used GPS150 will make a world of difference. From there, it's a short step to a Stratux. (Keep the GPS150 as a backup and carry it - my Stratux had enough issues I replaced it.)

    When funds allow and your flying justifies the cost, consider a Stratus 2S to "do it right" and reliably get GPS, AHRS, and ADS-B traffic and weather. You can also find used older Stratus models on Craigslist and Ebay.

    Using ForeFlight without GPS and more is like driving a car without using anything except first gear.
     
  6. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 Pattern Altitude

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    GPS receivers are cheap and Mike is making you a nice offer. I had the 150 and it works fine.

    I'm not saying FF is useless without a GPS source but it's a lot better with one:)
     
  7. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    you're basically running at 60% without GPS
     
  8. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Thoughts:

    - Foreflight is not a certified IFR navigation source. You mentioned IFR. If you're flying something without an on board GPS, you're likely /U or /A equipped and using the VOR receivers for primary navigation. Print off a navlog pre-flight and if Foreflight goes Tango Uniform, you're still flying your plan.

    - If you're flying something with /G, nowadays it *probably* has a moving map (not many of the old school non-mapping IFR GPS' installed in many airplanes anymore) and that's your primary for location, VORs if on board, backup and Foreflight third place.

    In other words, Foreflight even with a GPS is advisory only and not a primary location source. The geo-referenced approach plates are nice and add some awareness, but if the airplane symbol flying across the plate disappears/fails, you're still going to fly your primary instruments and the plate.

    - Next thing to consider, since we've already touched on it -- if you're flying IFR with Foreflight you're probably using it for approach plates also. If it goes Tango Uniform, figure out your plan for what plates you'll be using to actually land the plane. I wouldn't depart without some sort of backup. They allow two iPads, and one iPhone per subscription. iPhone is a bare minimum. Even on my iPhone 6+ you're going to have to zoom and mess around a lot to be able to read a plate on it and brief the approach. It's small. A printed set of plates nice and big on paper would be along for the ride for the primary and alternate for me, if the weather is crap, and organized nearby.

    - Scratchpads: Totally useless in turbulence. You're going to want paper for notes if it's bumpy. If it's really bumpy, forget about the paper even and welcome to seeing how good your short term memory is while you're working to keep the airplane on an approach and bouncing all over the sky.

    - Required IFR position reports: Where do you live and typically fly in? It's pretty rare to be out of radar coverage at the MEA. Even if you are, see the first points about what your primary Nav sources will be. You'll know where you are if someone says you need to start reporting. It won't have much to do with Foreflight, but you can use it to back up where you think you are. (And if you get an oddball request to report at someplace weird, you're going to probably want that paper notepad.)

    - To add GPS to a non-cellular iPad there's a number of options. I've used a Dual and it works well and the Stratux self-built would also work. Again, it's not s primary Nav source so do you need it?

    - Yes, the Foreflight navlog does update with ETE/ETA and whatnot as you fly along between your waypoints and cycles them down the list as you cross them.

    Helpful?
     
  9. petrolero

    petrolero Pattern Altitude

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    Agree. I had the XGPS 150 several years ago. To get FF to really deliver 80% of its value you gotta have a GPS.

    The next 19% of its value is in receiving ADS-B weather and traffic*. A final 1% of its value comes from synthetic vision with an AHRS. To get this last 20% requires something like a Stratux or Stratus GPS/AHRS/ADS-B receiver.

    Weather in the cockpit is nearly priceless. It's literally priceless, as in free, once you have an ADS-B receiver.
     
  10. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I thought FF recently blocked the Stratux AHRS data claiming they were feeding it via an unsupported method? Did that change?
     
  11. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not yet as I understand. They are using the method that is used to connect FF to MSFX. I'm guessing FF doesn't want to give up the API that the Apparreo folks use.
     
  12. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    If you choose to use Foreflight without a GPS (which does not require a Stratus) or with "own ship" turned off, you have an electronic version of paper charts and need to know your position using methods similar to those used by those flying with paper charts. Dead reckoning, cross VOR radials, your certified panel GPS, whatever. Student pilots who are using tablets early in their training are (or at least should be) learning that.

    You will still have the benefit of some enhancements such as easy access to flight information without carrying 20 lbs of manuals and the ability to measure your distance and direction from a fix with two fingers. You will also have the few drawbacks such as not being able to draw directly on the map.

    Is that what you are asking?
     
  13. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks for all the responses and offers. I am in western North Dakota, within an hour by air from a few of the last remaining places with class G airspace up to 14,500 MSL. I agree that, at MEA, radar coverage is very likely continuous especially given the non-mountainous terrain. But knowing what to do when very unlikely things happen is the best way not to crash. It just seemed like nobody had ever asked this question before.

    I should clarify that I am not using or intending to use my iPad as a primary means of navigation. It is my primary chartbook and it makes flight planning a snap, but with or without a GPS it's not a primary navigation instrument. The plane I mostly fly in has a GTN 650 and a Garmin 696 plus a second nav/comm with its own CDI and glideslope.

    The main thing I want to be able to do and haven't yet figured out how is plan a flight in Foreflight and then use its navlog to keep track of my time over waypoints and ETE to the next waypoint. It sounds like Foreflight will take care of keeping this information up-to-date if it has a GPS. It sounds like it does not allow you to enter or update any of this manually. And that's probably fine.

    If it does a good enough job of keeping track of all this information when it has a GPS source, I am comfortable relying on iPad+GPS for my chart and navlog and considering the failure of either to be a get-out-the-paper moment. (This is all totally independent of the separate failures of navigation instruments or loss of radar contact.)
     
  14. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    File and brief a plan is a simple task. And I'll refer you to the pilot guide and available videos on how to do that. There have been several advancements over the last 18-24 months that make FF a very useful tool for this and raised the bar for other EFB's.

    And when a GPS source is available to FF, it will update your nav log with ETE's, total time, and auto sequence to next leg. So yes, with a GPS source, FF will do what you desire.
    _________________________________________

    Now, you've seen us mention using Stratux and Stratus as both the GPS source and ADS-B in receiver. To really complicate your thinking, add to your mix Garmin's new transponder, GTX345. This device handles transponder duty, ADS-B In and Out, has the Flightstream system to talk to your iPad (allows FF and the GTN650 to share flight plan data), and show ADS-B weather on your iPad.
    ________________________________________

    Do let me know if you want my XPS150 GPS puck. I'll go make sure I got all the bits and bobs in one box so if you want it, I can send it out right away.
     
  15. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    I hadn't read about the GTX345 yet. I don't own a plane so I don't have that level of control over what I use, but ownership and avionics upgrades are likely in my future so I try to keep abreast of developments. It's about time someone made a transponder that includes all of this in one box.

    I have not actually filed a flight plan from Foreflight but I have certainly planned flights using it. That's all very easy. The part that isn't covered anywhere is how to use your flight planning information while en route if you don't have a position source for the iPad. Probably I'm the only one who has actually flown in such a situation. :)
     
  16. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I theory, not that difficult at all.

    If you have entered in the correct performance profile data, you can get a "no-wind" flight log for use in the air (I say no wind, since while connected to WiFi, FF will pull winds aloft data, but that will get more and more stale the longer you're not connected to a live or semi-live (ADS-B) data source).

    What you won't get is ground speed updates from wind effects (head or tail winds) and on-the-fly recalculation of ETE, fuel needed or used, and other typical nav log entries.

    Then, using your pilotage skills, as you cross one of your planned waypoints, touch and hold the next one on the screen. The pop up should give you the choice of Direct To, Fly Leg, or Get Info. If you select fly leg, then you have manually sequenced your plan. Same sorta system as putting a check mark on your paper nav log indicating you've passed that waypoint.

    With the GPS data source, FF will be able to calculate your ground speed updates from wind effects (head or tail winds) and on-the-fly recalculation of ETE, fuel needed or used, and other typical nav log entries.
     
  17. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Will "fly leg" update data in the navlog like I would by putting in my time over and updating ETA for future waypoints based on what it does know about the winds, or just update which leg I'm on like I would by putting a simple check mark on my paper navlog?
     
  18. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I'll have to let others answer if it captured the time stamp of when you select "fly leg" and update the remainder of the log. All of my flights with FF were with a GPS signal, so I never did it manually.
     
  19. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    It's 20G40 today. Perfect weather for armchair flying. If the iPad doesn't know where it is, it won't mind my lying to it about being en route.
     
  20. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Perfect weather to go hover your airplane.
     
  21. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    Yeah, EFBs are designed to use their own knowledge of location for position information. What you would like to do is manual entry. Other than using a calculator app and the scratchpad in ForeFlight or some other electronic notepad I think you are stuck with paper.

    Just as a thought--- you can capture the Foreflight navlog as a screen capture or email it to yourself before flight. Then bring it into some app like Notability and write across it with the actual times. I know some folks who somehting like that with the navlog from FltPlan.com.
     
  22. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    I tried the "fly this leg" button and got nothing added to the navlog so that won't do it. Looks like paper is the way to go. And that's not a big deal really. Just something to be sure I handle right when I get to flying under IFR. Loss of radar contact and failure of iPad position source mean revert to paper for tracking reporting points.
     
  23. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    I haven't printed a foreflight navlog as yet but suspect it will work better to use a better form for handwritten notes. Actually using a paper navlog on cross country flights has taught me the need for a navlog form that is easy to use in the air and isn't cluttered with extra stuff that just shrinks the space you have to write in times.
     
  24. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Here is the printed nav log for your review

    IMG_0253.JPG
     
  25. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks. Looks workable at least as a starting point.
     
  26. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's an OK nav log, not a great one.

    If you want to write on a good computer generated nav log, check out fltplan.com. Ignore the 1990s web layout and obnoxious colors, and you'll find just about everything you need, including FBO data and even a flight briefing card for your passengers.
     
  27. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 Pattern Altitude

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    FF is a really nice alternative to a paper navlog. It will give you the time to your next waypoint and of course adjust the time at wash waypoint. Estimated time to the next waypoint is normally pretty accurate as is to the destination. Very handy.
     
  28. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 Pattern Altitude

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    I agree that fltplan has the best navlog out there. Despite it looking like it's in need of a redesign.
     
  29. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Gotta agree with MAKG about FltPlan.com having a more robust result... here is a screen shot of same route to compare

    upload_2016-3-16_14-43-13.png
     
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  30. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Sending the NavLog to the local filesystem on the iPad as a PDF, or to the Scratchpad, would be a useful feature request. Having the only option being to Print it to an AirPrint printer, is too limiting, considering tons of printers still don't play nicely with Apple's goofiness. (Why they can't just add LPR printing via PostScript as an option, I've never figured out... every printer worth being called a printer will do that... just poke in the IP address...)
     
  31. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Where are you supposed to write on that? That's awful... plenty of data, but it's not laid out to print it and actually write on it.
     
  32. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    All you really need to write on it is ATA for each waypoint.
     
  33. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    If it doesn't know where you are, it can't direct you to a leg.
     
  34. MAKG1

    MAKG1 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    iPads don't have a "local filesystem." They have app space. Seems like a silly design choice, but there you have it. Android is quite different.

    I've attempted to use the printed nav log from Foreflight to execute a flight, and found it's lacking important information, like nav frequencies and courses.
     
  35. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Right. But it would be nice if it would have the option of me telling it where I am and keeping track accordingly. This is not a high-demand feature, though, so I don't expect them to add it.

    Agreed. MacOS comes with print to PDF and, I believe, the ability to print to a lpr daemon on the network. Apple clearly knows how to provide these features. But who would ever pay the premium for an AirPrint printer if iOS could print to others? I have one at home and I think the ink lasts two weeks whether you are printing or letting it sit idle.

    MAKG1 mentions the lack of a local filesystem in iOS. I think it actually has one, it's just not exposed to users or apps. But it does have "send to . . ." that's pretty smart, so there's no reason why you couldn't have a button to "send PDF to . . ." and get a list of your apps that can receive the PDF.
     
  36. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Well that too. It's severely lacking as a tool. Almost feels like a slap on feature not well thought out.
     
  37. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Not to go too far afield but at home at least, you don't need an actual AirPrint printer. Just fire up a simulator on any OS (there are many) that'll answer AirPrint requests and send them to a printer attached to the desktop OS of choice.

    But that's pretty much useless at most FBOs and other places that might have a perfectly working WiFi or network printer on their WiFi that would happily accept an LPR connection.
     
  38. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Screenshot? Then "Open In..." Foreflight and put it in "Today" binder?

    (How I picture Nate after reading that)

    [​IMG]
     
  39. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    iOS does have this feature, sort of. If one of the options available in the "send to" is iBooks, it will convert it to a pdf.
     
  40. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I seem to recall one of the note taking apps also doing that long ago. Evernote or something like it.

    Oh well, since we've pointed out that the "printed" NavLog doesn't have the necessary data on it to even be called a navlog... It's kinda a moot point until they make the output of that portion of the app actually useful.