Boeing acquires Houston flight-planning app maker ForeFlight


Boeing has purchased Houston-based ForeFlight, creator of a flight planning app that brought smartphones and tablets into the cockpit, for an undisclosed amount.

The deal, announced Wednesday, caps a two-year partnership between the companies in which Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen provided aeronautical data and charts through ForeFlight’s mobile app, enabling ForeFlight’s expansion in commercial aviation.

“ForeFlight has a massive installed base in general aviation,” ForeFlight Chief Executive Tyson Weihs said. “Boeing has that in commercial.”

In a news release announcing the deal, Ken Sain, Boeing vice president of digital solutions and analytics, said Boeing would build on the work done by Weihs and his team.

“We are excited to build on ForeFlight’s tremendous success in personal, business and defense aviation so we can provide next-generation, integrated tools to our aviation customers today,” Sain said.

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ForeFlight, incorporated in 2007, was among the first 500 apps to debut in Apple’s app store when it launched in July 2008. The company’s offerings have since evolved, ultimately replacing the briefcase-worth of charts and weather updates pilots used to carry.

ForeFlight, offering its services for $99, $199 or $299 a year, can help pilots chart their course and select altitudes for a speedy arrival or for fuel savings. It can also provide weather information and allows pilots to calculate their weight and balance.

Using the app during flight, pilots can track their position and call up airport-specific landing information. One tab is dedicated to regulatory paperwork and aircraft details. Other parts of the app are for preflight checklists and post-flight logs.

ForeFlight will remain at its current locations, with roughly 180 employees spread across Houston and Austin — the latter being its largest office — as well as Portland, Maine, and Odense, Denmark. The company expects to hire about 30 more people in 2019.

ForeFlight’s products and services will continue to be marketed under the ForeFlight name for the time being, according to a Boeing spokesman.

Tom Haines, spokesman for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, called ForeFlight “a really important company for general aviation in the last decade.” He said it has given pilots an affordable technology to provide them with situational awareness, weather information, tracking information and other services.

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Haines, who said he spoke with Weihs, is confident the company will continue assisting general aviation even as it expands into the commercial sector.

And with Boeing expanding into unmanned, supersonic and hypersonic aircraft, Weihs said the acquisition is an opportunity to introduce its technology to customers in those emerging sectors.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “It’s good for the team. It’s good for both companies.”

andrea.leinfelder@chron.com

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