U.S. Department

of Transportation


Federal Aviation




Air Traffic


A Communication from the  

Vice President,
  System Operations Services


        Issue # 2004-2
                       *** SPECIAL ***
                       April 2004                                                                                             

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International Pilot Weather Briefing

/*F/TER In September 2003, the Honolulu Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) began a one-year test program offering international pilot weather briefing service (IPWB) and international weather consultation service (IWCS) to the aviation community.

What does the IPWB provide for international flightcrews and operators? IPWB is a complete presentation of all of the elements listed in annex 3, chapter 9, of the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO). Honolulu provides the pilot, flightcrew, or aircraft operator with an interpreted presentation of all the available weather across a route of flight including adverse conditions, the current and forecast weather for a departure aerodrome, en route, a destination aerodrome, and an alternate aerodrome. The winds, temperatures aloft, and known Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) are also provided. Heavy emphasis is placed on adverse conditions, satellite imagery, and the location of the jet stream. Honolulu's specialists are highly trained to interpret the available weather information including satellite imagery, which may be the only source of weather information available for much of the vast Pacific rim.

Aviators should note that IPWB service (the complete briefing) is not available for flights below 25,000 feet because significant weather forecasting is not available over most of the Pacific rim below 25,000 feet. When contemplating flight below 25,000 feet, requesting a weather consultation is highly recommend.

What is a consultation? The IWCS is a discussion of known and forecasted weather conditions between a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) specialist and a pilot, flightcrew member, or an aircraft operator. It is not a complete briefing but is intended to supplement or update the information that the pilot, flightcrew, or aircraft operator already received. In situations where the specialist does not have access to all of the information normally provided in a complete briefing, the specialist will offer a consultation. Planned flights below 25,000 feet are prime examples of when the complete briefing is not available. Another example is when the aviator used the International Flight Folder Documentation Program to self-brief or pre-brief and needs to update the information. The aviator may have questions about a worrisome weather system and needs to discuss the system with a professional aviation weather specialist. The IWCS provides an opportunity to ask specific questions about weather issues related to a planned international flight without the complete briefing. It is the pilot's choice.

What is a Flight Documentation Folder? It is a printed copy of all the weather data covering a proposed flight and is provided by the National Weather Service (NWS) for self-briefing purposes, either over the Internet or by FAX back. The pilot must be proficient at self-briefing and interpreting large amounts of very complex weather information. The FAA's air traffic control specialists are always available to help the aviator interpret the weather information when he/she feels a need for professional assistance.

Remember, if the aviator wants a complete weather presentation, ask for an international pilot weather briefing; however, if he/she just wants to discuss specific weather items then he/she can ask for an international consultation.

At Honolulu AFSS, international services are provided for flights between the following aerodromes: French Frigate Shoals, Johnston Island, Midway Island, Wake Island, Christmas Island, Palmyra, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, Guam, Kwajalein, Majuro, Rota, Saipan, West Tinian, Babelthuap/Koror, and airports in the Hawaiian Islands.

International services are also available for aircraft departing from the aerodromes mentioned above that are going to the following locations: Tahiti;   Tarawa; Rarotonga; Fua' Amotu; Vavau; Nadi; Nauru; La Tontouta; Honiara; Brisbane, Australia; Port Moresby, New Guinea; Narita, Japan; Manila; Taipei; Hong Kong; Alaska; and the continental United States (CONUS). However, international services are not available when departing from the second group of aerodromes because they are either in a foreign flight information region or another AFSS's service area. Pilots departing from Alaska or the CONUS are strongly advised to contact their local AFSS for local departure information.

When are the services available and what can I expect? To obtain IPWB/IWCS services or check the service hours, call the Honolulu AFSS at
1-800-WX-BRIEF or 1-866-766-0820. Let the specialist know that you want international weather services. Once connected to the international weather service position, the controller will ask for all the background information needed to provide the requested service. Due to the complexity and amount of information that must be reviewed, the specialist may ask the pilot to call back when the information is ready to be presented. Depending on the service requested and the length of a flight, the request to call back could be up to an hour. When the pilot calls back, he/she will receive the service requested in accordance with the ICAO standards. If the caller requests a consultation, the callback time will normally be less depending on the complexity of the information requested.

These services were developed by Honolulu AFSS in response to a reassignment of responsibilities within the Federal Government. FAA has assumed the responsibility to provide all aviation weather briefings including international briefings. While the flight service stations have many years of experience providing domestic weather briefing services, they have not provided briefing services to such international destinations as Hong Kong, China, or Brisbane, Australia. Using ICAO annex 9 as the basic guideline, Honolulu AFSS developed a training program to allow its employees to gain the skills needed for international briefing.

The preparation to develop classes for the IPWB project began with an intense data-gathering mission. Using the Internet and applicable FAA and Department of Defense publications, they conducted topical research to find aeronautical and weather reference materials. Then, international procedures training modules were developed. The lesson plans and self-study materials included: Oceanic procedures, use of international charts and the International Flight Information Manual, and the ICAO annex 9 rules. Specialists studied geography and the aerodrome folders for 33 new aerodromes along with other important aviation topics. In conjunction with the locally developed training, the NWS training unit located at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center developed and delivered comprehensive training on global weather systems, satellite imagery, international weather charts, international aviation weather messages, and the international service formats. Upon completion of the training, operational personnel were certified to provide international services.

Pilots are encouraged to use these services when flying in the Pacific rim area. Given the dynamic nature of the weather systems, it is reassuring to have professional assistance to help interpret and understand the weather dynamics when planning a flight across thousands of miles of liquid real estate called the Pacific rim.

Pilots are also encouraged to provide feedback and comments about the service by contacting the facility management staff at 808-839-1239.

With the successful completion of the one-year test program, this service will continue to provide valuable support for all aviators planning international flights across the Pacific rim.

(This special ATB was written by the air traffic manager and operations manager of the Honolulu AFSS and edited by the Flight Service Operations Division)

Questions/comments about content should be addressed to ATP-100