The FAA will discontinue the Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) in the lower 48 states on Jan. 8, 2020.
HIWAS is a continuous broadcast of weather advisories over a limited nationwide network of Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range (VOR) beacons, providing pilots with information related to hazardous weather.
The agency’s decision comes in the wake of decreased demand for inflight services from flight service specialists in general, dropping from an average of more than 10,000 radio contacts a day to less than 900 a day, which the FAA said is an indication pilots are using other ways to obtain weather information.
Before making the decision, the FAA created an FAA/industry Safety Risk Management (SRM) Panel that analyzed the risks associated with discontinuing this service and addressed concerns of those in the aviation community.
Officials with the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), who were part of the panel, say they are “comfortable” with the agency’s move.
“There are numerous other products that provide pilots with the needed weather information,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure.
“We no longer rely solely on the aircraft radio for access to weather information in the cockpit. Instead, we have access to a number of resources that we didn’t when HIWAS was created,” she added. “This greatly mitigates any impact of decommissioning what we found in the course of our review to be a little used product.”
Further, newer sources for inflight weather information typically present material in a graphical format, which is often easier to use while flying, NBAA officials note.
Air traffic controllers will continue to advise pilots of hazardous weather that may affect operations within 150 miles of their sector or area of jurisdiction. This includes details found in Airmen’s Meteorological Information, Significant Meteorological Information, Convective SIGMET, Urgent Pilot Reports, and Center Weather Advisories. Pilots will be instructed to contact a flight service specialist through air-to-ground radio frequency if they need additional information.
On Jan. 1, 2020, the FAA will discontinue a similar service in Alaska, the Transcribed Weather Broadcast (TWEB), which is a continuous broadcast of aeronautical and meteorological information over a limited network of Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range (VORs) and Non-Directional Beacons (NDBs) across Alaska.