NTSB recommends FAA, National Weather Service improve weather forecasts to pilots

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board said May 7 that the National Weather Service and the FAA should provide improved forecast services to pilots.

NTSB officials pointed to nine areas for the two agencies to provide better information. The recommendations were based on the NTSB’s accident investigations involving aircraft encountering weather conditions, such as adverse surface wind, dense fog, icing, turbulence, and low-level wind shear.

“What’s difficult to understand,” NTSB Board Member Earl Weener said in the announcement, “is why weather advisories from the National Weather Service to the general public, at times, provide more comprehensive information about weather conditions than the advisories they provide to pilots experiencing the same conditions. Why pilots would receive less information makes no sense, and increases the risk of flying in severe weather conditions.”

He added that is why this issue is on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List.

The NTSB announcement added that although the National Weather Service routinely advises pilots of turbulence and weather patterns associated with mountain wave activity (MWA), which can cause unique and adverse flying conditions, there are currently no requirements for the NWS to issue advisories specific to MWA.

Other issues NTSB recommends include additional awareness and communication between the weather service units and the aviation weather centers, enhanced communication between meteorologists to ensure mutual situational awareness of critical aviation weather data, and proper coordination and communication between the various NWA components.

Weener added safety will be enhanced for pilots and their passengers when pilots are given a complete weather report, including all of the most current weather information.

For more information: NTSB.gov



  1. Tom says

    Yes, more work needs to be done here. Duats is very good for a lot of things and I use it regularly and the metars are very good as they are shown for airports along the route and destination. The problem with the “detailed” descriptions are that they are too lengthy and cover too large of a territory and are difficult to understand so most of that is not usefull. Yes to the idea of having VFR only selection but only to the extent of elimination of all the SID’s, STARS, and all of the other IRF procedural stuff that VFR pilots don’t need. The clouds however are very important, fronts, winds, and similar along the route planned are also very important as well as TFR’s and NOTAMS.

  2. Jeffrey Aryan says

    I agree with the comment posted below. All WX should be written in “PLAINE ENGLISH”.

    50 years ago when teletype and computers could only handle so much information it was okay. But in todays modern world everything can and should in easy to understand plain English. Heck all computers have a plain English key available, why keep the old style it doesn’t work as well anymore. Just like the old AN ranges, ADF, and LORAN. Good for the time but now outdated.

    My suggestions are to change the format of the reports. For example, for a given airport. Just write, VFR now but becoming IFR in the afternoon. Make it meaningful like a TV broadcast. Then give the actual conditions. It makes common sense as too a persons idea when things will change during different times of the day.

    Also, cut out all the gov’t red tape and phrases. No one reads them anyway and they are ambiguous if you try to read and understand them. Put them at the bottom of the reports. All of this is not rocket science just common sense.

    • Randy Coller says

      Or you could study weather and learn to read METARs and TAFs like other pilots do. Its shorthand. Look at the way kids write….BRB, LOL, *$, BFN F2F. Heck you use similar abbreviations all the time too….ASAP, DUATS, VMC, IFR, GUMPs, AIM.

      When you get good at reading METARs, and TAFs, you can quickly visualize the weather and can write down the weather briefing you receive over the phone much quicker.

      • Jeff says

        Actually I can read the abbreviated version….. most of the time. However there are many times it has abbreviations I am not familiar with. This is a particular problem with new students and pilots. That’s the reason there are now translation apps, apps to explain abbreviations etc.
        I would challenge anyone that says they can read, understand and write the abbreviated version as well as the plain English version. Frankly there is no reason I can see for not doing it in plain English.
        What we should be striving for is a concise, clear understanding of the weather reports, forecasts, pireps, notams etc.
        BTW I don’t know all the abbreviations you say the kids use either. LOL TTFN.

      • David Vancina says

        I find the METAR/TAF translations useful, sometimes, but the fact is I can consume far more information, far more rapidly, from the encoded version. I actually find myself getting frustrated when I have to read a long stream of decoded reports — it just takes too long! The occasional symbol I don’t know I can always look up. To say there’s NO reason to continue using the encodings is a little short-sighted, I think.

  3. Jeff says

    It would be nice if they would do it in plain English as well.
    One other suggestion is an area broadcast of weather. If one is VFR you can only get weather from airport to airport as you fly. An area weather update would warn of things such as a line of thunderstorms. Similar to the weather on any marine VHF radio or NOAA weather radio. It’s not rocket science.

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