ForeFlight Adds ‘Runway Alert’ Deconfliction Feature


After some hand wringing at the highest levels, a safety summit and a blue-chip committee being struck to address a spate of clench-worthy runway incursions, now there’s an app for that. The latest ForeFlight release includes a feature that warns the crew of an aircraft on final approach if there’s an airplane on the runway to which they are headed. It also warns the crew of the airplane on the runway that another one is headed their way. Aircraft have to be connected to an ADS-B or FLARM receiver for the Airplane on Runway Alert feature to work.

Last winter saw an uptick in potentially serious incursions in which aircraft were cleared to take off and land on the same runway at roughly the same time. In one case in Austin, a FedEx 767 flew over the top of a departing Southwest flight after the FedEx crew aborted and turned away from the potential conflict. Officialdom is still sorting out all those incidents and preparing the reports and recommendations. The runway alert feature was among several additions to the ForeFlight app, including a function that will paint a breadcrumb trail of the flight paths of nearby aircraft to give pilots additional awareness of the nature of traffic and the procedures being used.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I am a bit surprised this is open to all plans. Considering almost 90% of the newer upgrades got to Performance Plus and above. That is the only downside of ForeFlight. You have to pay extra for safety features.

    • I use FlyQ EFB because it is “the #1 rated aviation app on the market” according to their website. Well, actually when I got it, the app was free; you just paid for the data. I switched from Garmin Pilot because one day, over the NM/AZ border, my app suddenly quit bacause my subscription expired. – AT THAT VERY MINUTE! Imagine if it had been night or IFR!

      Since then, I’ve been very happy with FlyQ and, at some point, I received an email stating that, for $200 VFR or $400 IFR, my subscription would be extended for life! Well, it turns out that it was only for 80 years but my next three generations should be able to benefit from that.

      Unfortunately, my FlyQ will not receive ADS-B from my Garmin GTX-345 transponder because Garmin encrypts the signal. Pay for Foreflight and you get the data. Not so for FlyQ. FlyQ says that they’ve been pleading with Garmin without success so I tried on an owner level. No dice. The best they’d do for one of their own customers was to offer 6 months free subscription to Garmin Pilot. I’d probably be in hard IFR when the next time the thing quits.

      Sorry to be so off topic, but I’m really annoyed with Garmin for their “we own the world” attitude.

      • It’s not just Garmin, though. ForeFlight clearly states that the app will stop working once the subscription expires. And they also have a “we own the world” attitude.

        As far as not connecting to the 345, that sounds like maybe FlyQ doesn’t want to pay for the Connext access that ForeFlight (Boeing) has paid for.

        In any case, it’s good that FlyQ works for you and apparently a lot of other pilots. Competition is good.

      • I too am a lifetime enjoyer, and unashamed cheerleader. I sure would like some glide rings though. 😉

    • A good first step, but to fix this issue, controllers and airline pilots need to relearn that they are there for safety, not for efficient airport ops. It rather have a 15min delay than die in an incursion.

  2. Another “warning” device to monitor heads down while taxiing? It will be interesting to see if such a device will be accepted by the FAA for air carrier (pt121 and pt135). The FAA still does not like having airplane position shown on charts displayed on PFD’s. I almost always turn off the “RAAS” in the airplanes I fly because it has a habit of announcing runway positions during radio calls from ATC, or during PM callouts on the checklist(announcing 2000ft left on runway even though airborne and PM calling “positive rate”) Keep adding audible warning devices and crews will start ignoring or shutting them off just like some fighter pilots used to do in Vietnam because of the distractions they cause.

    • I was going to to add a comment along those lines; at what point will this app start including “alerts” to tell the pilot to actually look outside and fly the plane?

      • Yeah I could see ForeFlight start using the iPad’s built in camera to watch the pilot’s face and alert him if he’s staring at his iPad too long.

        Alert: Aircraft on runway.
        Alert: Aircraft on final.
        Alert: Look out the damn window.

    • The app generates audio alerts, too. Connect via bluetooth. It’s great, mostly, but you have to remember to connect the bluetooth every time, which is one more thing on the checklist.

  3. When TAWS was installed on airline aircraft years ago, a friend returned from a trip to Europe and said he had gotten a terrain warning at FL 350 over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As neither he nor his FO could find any reference to a new mountain taller than Everest in that location, they silenced it and pressed on to London. His proposal at the time was to replace all the audible alerts with a continuous, 120 dB voice repeating, over and over, “DO NOT CRASH THIS AIRPLANE!” It would not have surprised anyone if FAA had taken that advice.

  4. In complete agreement that the last thing needed is another alert…look out the window, listen to radio and build SA. ADS-B can contribute to that SA, but it can also make it worse inside a couple miles.

    And for anyone throwing the luddite flag…did FF analyze the use-cases to see how the ADS-B spec was written?…don’t doubt they can alert on the ADS-B input, but is the input valid? kind of like the folks who got bit by Nexrad before understanding limitations…and if it was really good in close, how come ATC towers without radar aren’t allowed to ref ADS-B? given the amount of self-generated traffic I’ve had to ignore in close when ADS-B can’t resolve me vs multiple tgts that are all me, I’d hate to see a low time pilot who already has a full bucket doing multiple belly checks below 500′ short final panicking over traffic that isn’t there.

  5. @ dcmarotta

    Like yourself, I too have a Lifetime IFR FLYQ EFB subscription. Oddly, I have yet to meet anyone who uses FLYQ EFB. All my instructors, fellow flying partners, etc. use Garmin or FF. (Five different flight schools,)

    You also stated that ” I use FlyQ EFB because it is “the #1 rated aviation app on the market” according to their website. ” I bought it, in part, for that reason as well, but I am not quite convinced that it really is the #1 rated package. The FLYQ people there seem nice, emails are answered quickly, but I personally find the user interface to be a bit cumbersome. Moreover, I also find their tutorials to be somewhat lacking, at least for the beginning user transitioning into their first EFB . Garmin and FF tutorials are superior at all levels in my opinion. Additionally, there are a lot of third party users posting FF videos to YouTube.

    FLYQ I believe desperately needs better introductory tutorials.

    I may be buying either Garmin or FF in the near future despite already having a lifetime IFR subscription to FLYQ. That’s just me; I am just a scrub low-time private pilot. YMMV.

  6. I agree. That’s the last place you need to have your head down. I grew up flying in the L.A. area. My instructor told me repeatedly, “keep your head on a swivel, keep you head on a swivel”. I was not to be looking at the inside of the airplane. Listen t the tower and what they are saying to other aircraft. Convert what you hear to a mental picture of where every one else is and what they are doing or expecting to do.

  7. I like ForeFlight. Expensive but worth it. For me and others it revolutionized flight planning, and situational awareness, especially IFR. Brilliant app and there was clearly a lot of work that has gone into it and it is being continually refined. I respect that.

    I agree it has some/many superfluous features (which can be turned off) which are mainly fluff.

    As far as heads down on short final no one is suggesting that. Also this feature and others can be configured with aural warnings through the headset.

    Obviously there are still many planes without ADSB out; my Maule included so this feature can’t be relied on, it’s only there to help.