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Pireps Support Air Safety

By Ken Kostura

 

Pilot reports (PIREPS) are critical for air safety especially during the spring and summer months. A local pilot asked me if pireps really make it into the system. In a matter of minutes, they show up at the WFO Blacksburg office on AWIPS, Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System. Awips is actually a complex network of systems that integrates meteorological, hydrological, satellite, and radar data into a single computer workstation. Pireps also appear quickly on the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) Aviation Digital Data Services (ADDS) page. Plots of Pireps icing, turbulence, weather and sky are available. Weather conditions can change quickly, and there’s nothing like having a pilot report (pirep) to give you a bird’s eye view of what it’s really like up there. Pireps may validate forecast conditions, or they may describe real-time weather that varies from them. As a pilot, some pireps help us make a better go/no-go decision. SkySpotter is an interactive program created by ASF, the FAA, and the Aviation Weather Center that teaches students how to identify weather phenomena to include in a pirep, whom to give the report to, and the correct format in which to provide the pirep. The SkySpotter course can be found at http://www.aopa.org/asf/online_courses/. This course qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program.

 

From the FAA AIM:

PIREP Element Code Chart

 

PIREP ELEMENT

PIREP CODE

CONTENTS

1.

3-letter station identifier

XXX

Nearest weather reporting location to the reported phenomenon

2.

Report type

UA or UUA

Routine or Urgent PIREP

3.

Location

/OV

In relation to a VOR

4.

Time

/TM

Coordinated Universal Time

5.

Altitude

/FL

Essential for turbulence and icing reports

6.

Type Aircraft

/TP

Essential for turbulence and icing reports

7.

Sky cover

/SK

Cloud height and coverage (sky clear, few, scattered, broken, or overcast)

8.

Weather

/WX

Flight visibility, precipitation, restrictions to visibility, etc.

9.

Temperature

/TA

Degrees Celsius

10.

Wind

/WV

Direction in degrees magnetic north and speed in knots

11.

Turbulence

/TB

See AIM paragraph 7-1-23

12.

Icing

/IC

See AIM paragraph 7-1-21

13.

Remarks

/RM

For reporting elements not included or to clarify previously reported items

 

An example:

KCRW UV /OV KBKW 360015-KCRW/TM 1815/FL120//TP BE99/SK IMC/WX RA/TA M08 /WV 290030/TB LGT-MDT/IC LGT RIME/RM MDT MXD ICG DURC KROA NWBND FL080-100 1750Z

NOTE-
From 15 miles north of Beckley VOR to Charleston VOR; time 1815 UTC; altitude 12,000 feet; type aircraft, BE-99; in clouds; rain; temperature minus 8 Celsius; wind 290 degrees magnetic at 30 knots; light to moderate turbulence; light rime icing during climb northwestbound from Roanoke, VA, between 8,000 and 10,000 feet at 1750 UTC.

All across the United States to file a pirep, you can contact Flight Watch on 122.0, Flight Service on 122.2, or on the frequency listed on your chart. Tell them your position relative to the nearest VOR so they can respond on the appropriate transmitter. Then, report the conditions you are experiencing.

 

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