A Message from Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator
Are you prepared for the weather this flying season? Summer flying often means thunderstorms. Be prepared and remember your personal checklist.
Weather is the most lethal of all major causes of GA accidents. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), nearly 75% of weather-related accidents are fatal. Have you fine-tuned your pre-flight decision-making skills? Are you confident that you can safely complete a flight if you suddenly find yourself in changing weather conditions? The United States has the busiest and most complex airspace in the world. You are part of an outstanding community of 188,000 general aviation pilots who can make a real difference in improving safety this season. You have an opportunity to take advantage of enormous resources to make you the best pilot you can be.
I'm asking YOU, the GA pilot, for your help. Get involved in the GA community this flying season. Share your knowledge and skills with your fellow pilots. Talk to your friends and family about decision making and weather. Improve your skills and knowledge by signing up for a safety seminar, read important weather information, participate in a proficiency program, take online training, or train for a new certificate or rating. Most importantly, invest in GA safety by investing in yourself! I can guarantee that safety pays off.
What's on your 2014 checklist?
- Review. Are you proficient or just current? What's your experience and comfort level for flying in marginal weather?
- Practice. Would training better prepare you for this flying season?
- Educate. How do you get weather information? What can you learn about weather? Have you reviewed weather minimums? Do you have an escape plan? Know and recognize your limits.
- Plan. Write down your personal minimums. This is your personal, flexible safety buffer based on your skills, training, currency and proficiency. It will help you plan and complete a flight.
- Share. Talk to fellow pilots, family and friends about weather decision-making wherever you are: on the ramp or even at the airport restaurant.
July's topic – Flying IFR: Know what you're flying into
Did you know?
The GA fatal accident rate has remained relatively flat over the past five years, despite FAA, NTSB, and industry efforts to improve safety. The FAA's goal is to reduce the GA fatal accident rate by 10% over a 10-year period (2009-2018).
As the warmer temps hit, so does the desire to get airborne and go somewhere. Don't become a victim of "get-there-itis."
- General Aviation News – "Protect yourself from ‘get-there-itis’"
- FAA Safety Briefing March/April 2013 (PDF)
Are you qualified and current to fly IFR? Do you know what it takes to obtain an Instrument Rating? Might want to check out:
- Are you current and qualified to fly instruments? (61.57c)
- Do you know what it take to earn an Instrument Rating? (61.65)
- Instrument Flying Handbook (PDF)
Feeling overconfident? It's time to review the basics before your next proficiency check:
- AOPA: IFR Fix – Benchmarking the Basics
- FAA: Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) Guidance (PDF)
- FAA Safety Briefing: Ready for the Soup? Tips on Maintaining IFR Proficiency (PDF)
Which way is up? One of the greatest challenges of flying IFR is to maintain situational awareness and avoid spatial disorientation. Learn more about it:
- FAA: Spatial Disorientation (PDF)
- AOPA Safety Advisor: Spatial Disorientation (PDF)
- FAA: Spatial Disorientation – Visual Illusions (PDF)
Gauges or Glass? Are you a traditionalist steam gauge user or are you more into the new glass technology? Are you thinking about transitioning? Learn more here:
- Glass Cockpit Flying Skills
- AOPA: The Transition – One Man's Switch From Round Dials To a Glass Cockpit
- FAA Safety Briefing: The (Lost) Art of Paying Attention (PDF)
Are you using in-cockpit (datalink) weather? Do you know its limitations? Learn more here:
Do you know what you're heading into?
- FAA's Weather Decision-Making Guide – Online version
- Instrument Proficiency Check Review Guide
- Descent to the MDA and Beyond
- Beyond the Buttons: Mastering our Marvelous Flying Machines (PDF)
Get smart about NextGen approach procedures for GA
NextGen is now for GA! Here's what you need to know about technologies that can provide weather services to GA pilots.
Flight Information Service – Broadcast (FIS-B) is an FAA data link service that provides meteorological and aeronautical data to the cockpit for aircraft operating in the United States National Airspace System (NAS). FIS-B provides a suite of weather and aeronautical information products so pilots have timely information of regional weather & NAS status/changes that could impact flight. FIS-B is a continuous uplink broadcast over the UAT link from each of the 600+ ADS-B ground-based Radio Stations (RS).
Many pilots are familiar with commercial subscription data link services that are provided via satellite. Let's compare the commercial satellite systems and the FAA's ground-based approach. With the satellite approach, a single broadcast transmitter is providing broadcast data to subscribing users for the entire service area (i.e. the NAS). With the FAA's ground-based approach, which is available subscription-free to pilots equipping with ADS-B In on the UAT link, each RS is broadcasting a specific subset of the FIS-B data centered on that RSs location. FIS-B is limited to line of sight to the RS being used. Consequently, coverage is limited at most GA airports on the airport surface. When airborne, the specific products a pilot receives is dependent on the aircraft's altitude and the FIS-B service volume. Pilots should be aware of FIS-B's capabilities and limitations and be particularly alert and understand the limitations associated with individual products.
Learn more about FIS-B service volumes and products:
Get Involved – explore more resources on weather topics and flight planning:
Publications, Guides and Tools
- Key to Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) and Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) (PDF)
- FAA/Industry Training Standards – Personal and Weather Risk Assessment Guide (PDF)
- Personal Minimums Development Guide (PDF)
- Weather Radar Echo Terms
- How to obtain a good weather briefing (PDF)
- Learn about one pilot's encounter with a thunderstorm
- The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) tool is designed to meet the needs of low-altitude VFR emergency responders.
FAA Safety Briefing Articles
- The Cheapest Insurance Part 1 P.21 (PDF)
- The Cheapest Insurance Part 2 P.5 (PDF)
- Learning to Fly in Weather P.10 (PDF)
- Ready for the Soup? P.17 (PDF)
- Cleared for the Approach: P.16 (PDF)
- A Message from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta
- AOPA: Pilot Safety Announcement: V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N
- Safer Skies Weather Video (WMV, 80.9 MB)
Online Courses, Quizzes and Webinars
- Accident Case Study: Time Lapse
- Aviation Weather Data: A Targeted Approach – Online Course
- NTSB – Weatherwise Online Course
- Webinar: Flying Safely with Cockpit Weather
Got Weather? Archives
- May 2014 – Turbulence: What you can't see can hurt you
- June 2014 – Summertime Flying: More than just bright lights and loud noise
The Got Weather? campaign partners are: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam), GA Joint Steering Committee, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA), Soaring Society of America (SSA), Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), University Aviation Association (UAA), U.S. Parachute Association (USPA).
Learn more about the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC).