05 September 2013

ForeFlight gets FSS wrong in Canada


ForeFlight is a truly big improvement over all those paper charts, the CFS and Canada Air Pilot. Wow a pile of paper is replaced by your iPad! But there is at least one or two gotchas for pilots using ForeFlight in Canada.

One relates to Flight Service Station (FSS) information at some Canadian airports. The screen capture above shows the Flight Service Station (FSS) information for Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (CYOW). I marked the problems with red arrows. At the first  arrow we see “Radio 126.7”. Wrong! Canadian pilots likely know that FSS is unlikely to reply on 126.7, rather if you want to contact a FSS in the Ottawa area call Quebec Radio on 123.15 from CYOW or 123.37 from CYND. What is worse is the next red arrow points to another “Radio 123.5”, oops ForeFlight, you are wrong again! That frequency will not get you any FSS, rather it is Rockcliffe’s (CYRO) and Les Cedars’ Unicom frequency. So far ForeFlight has batted zero on FSS!

Also, ForeFlight fails to identify the call sign of the FSS by simply calling them Radio. Pilots need to know the  call sign of the FSS e.g., “Quebec Radio” in the Ottawa area.

Now look at the next two red arrows, both pointing  under the heading of Other Frequencies to FSS in the USA, specifically Burlington Radio. Oops ForeFlight, Ottawa is in Canada and we use Canadian FSS! These problems area at many Canadian airports. As well Mandatory Frequency (MF) locations, such as Gatineau (CYND) and Kingson (CYGK) are also shown poorly in ForeFlight, almost guaranteeing their MF status will be missed.

My second complaint is the suggestion that ForeFlight provides CFS information. Well, yes it does, but not all CFS entries are there. Staying with Ottawa, where are the CFS pages showing Ottawa Airspace and VFR call up points? Same is true for Kingston (CYGK). There are more CFS pages for most major airports than are shown in ForeFlight.

For that matter where are the CFS pages showing FIC and ATC frequencies and remote communication outlets? Can’t get to those using ForeFlight, or at least I can’t see how. Sure they show up by accident if you know which airport to check. Try looking for London FIC frequencies. It is there if you know to look up Chapeskie Field (CLC2). Why does it not show up under London (CYXU)? The CFS has an inch of chart supplement material dealing with obstructions etc. near the back. How do I get at that information in ForeFlight? I guess I still need to buy the CFS!

Not that there aren’t things to like about ForeFlight, it’s just too misleading, incomplete and potentially unsafe in Canada.


Adam Hunt said...

Those really look like serious "teething troubles" to me. Is there a way to provide them with direct feedback to correct things like this?

Chris said...

Hi Michael,

I'm a Canadian pilot using ForeFlight and you can easily access the full CFS through the documents page. All the frequencies and terminal area charts you mentioned are there. I'm so happy I no longer have to buy the 'brick' every 2 months and feel guilty about throwing it away! ;-)

Regarding the frequencies, I usually just refer to the CFS page anyways because it's right there on the airport page. As a side note, I have emailed ForeFlight before (team@foreflight.com) and they've been very receptive to any suggestions or questions I had. I assume they'd be happy to correct those frequencies.

Michael Shaw said...

Agreed Chris, Canadian pilots are less likely to get caught by ForeFlight's USA FSS information, but visiting pilots from the USA will still be vulnerable.

I too have the CFS in the documents section. But what I think should happen is the CFS page that comes up when looking at an airport should include all the pages for the airport and area. The search engine in Documents section is poor and I find it next to useless if you need the information right now.

Sure you can bookmark pages but that means spending considerable time before takeoff guessing which pages you might need in the air.

Nonetheless as much as I like Foreflight it should still get the information Correct. By the way, they wrote to tell me they would correct wrong frequencies for Ottawa, but they are wrong for many airport.