Types of Aviation Weather Briefings
Types of Aviation Weather Briefings
The standard preflight briefing will include the following elements:
- Adverse Conditions: Significant meteorological information that might influence you, the pilot, to alter your proposed route of flight, or even cancel your planned flight entirely (e.g., thunderstorms, icing, turbulence, low ceilings, or visibility)
- Synopsis: A brief statement as to the cause of the weather (e.g., fronts or pressure systems) which are pertinent to your proposed route-of-flight
- Current Conditions: When your proposed time of departure is within two hours, a summary of the current weather, including Pilot Weather Reports (PIREPs) and radar weather information applicable to your planned flight
- En Route Forecast: The briefer will summarize the forecast conditions (unless requested to read the forecasts verbatim) along your proposed route in a logical order (i.e., climb-out, en route, and descent)
- Destination Forecast: The destination forecast for your planned ETA will be provided, including any significant changes expected within one hour of your planned time of arrival
- Winds Aloft: The briefer will summarize forecast winds aloft for the proposed route. Temperature information will be provided on request; and
- Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs): “Current” NOTAMs pertinent to your proposed route of flight will be provided. However, information on Global Positioning System (GPS) outages, Long Range Navigation (LORAN), and military training routes and areas (e.g., Military Training Routes (MTRs) and Military Operations Areas (MOAs)), along with PUBLISHED NOTAMs must be specifically requested. (When requesting the status of MTRs and MOAs please provide the briefer with the route number identifier or MOA name.) It is always good judgment to inquire whether the briefer has access to all military activity along your proposed route, or whether you will also need to contact another Flight Service Station (on standard FSS radio frequencies) along your route-of-flight to check on the activity and status of designated military areas.
Request an Abbreviated Briefing when you need the information to supplement other electronically acquired data (e.g., TIBS or DUATs), update a previous briefing, or when you need only one or two specific items. Provide the briefer with appropriate background information, the time you received the previous information, and the specific items needed. You should indicate the source of the information already received so that the briefer can limit the briefing to the information that you have not received, and provide appreciable changes
in meteorological conditions or aeronautical information since your previous briefing. To the extent possible, the briefer will provide the information in the sequence used in a Standard Briefing. If you request only one or two specific items, the briefer is required to advise you if adverse conditions are present or forecast. Details on these conditions will be provided at your request. Often, and especially when doing local flying, you may want to update the weather at a specific airport. You can do this by directly dialing an automated
weather system, if available, at that airport.
You should request an Outlook Briefing whenever your proposed time of departure is six or more hours in the future. In this case, the briefer will provide you with available forecast data applicable to your proposed departure time. This type of briefing is provided for planning purposes only. You should obtain a Standard Briefing as close to departure as possible in order to obtain the latest current conditions, forecasts, and NOTAMs. Often, graphical weather depictions obtained through DUATs or the Internet can provide excellent trend information and so may be used accordingly.
If at all possible, obtain a preflight briefing by telephone or by electronic means prior to departure. In cases when you are already in flight and you need to obtain a standard briefing or update a previous briefing in-flight, you should contact Flight Service not Flight Watch. After contact, you should advise the specialist of the type of briefing you require and provide appropriate background information. You will then be provided information as specified in the above paragraphs, depending on the type of briefing requested. The FLIGHT WATCH service is not meant to provide you with a full standard briefing. Rather, rely on FLIGHT WATCH to provide you with the most current en-route weather. And when using FLIGHT WATCH, always give a PIREP so other pilots may benefit from your reports of the weather, ride, etc.
In-flight Data Linked Weather
Technology advancements now allow suitably equipped aircraft to receive textual and graphical data linked to weather products and other information. However, just like weather information received over the Internet, it is imperative (and even more so in-flight) that the pilot uses the most current information, not out-of-date or invalid weather products. Also remember while airborne, to judiciously spread your time between “head in the cockpit” and “outside” watching for other traffic. That is good judgment!
Aviation Weather is a required Task within all of our Flight Instructor training courses. Here is a link to the courses we offer here at CFI Academy.