Pilot Reports (PIREPs) are reports of current conditions at a specific location and altitude. These reports are made in-flight typically by calling Enroute Flight Advisory Service (EFAS, better known as Flight Watch) on 122.0MHz (high altitude frequencies differ). In addition to Flight Watch, PIREPs may be provided by radio to virtually any ground facility including FSS, ARTCC, or ATC. On the ground, PIREPs may be reported to the nearest AFSS/FSS.Because reports are made by pilots, they may occur at any time and may contain a variety of information. Common to all reports should be location, time, altitude (MSL), type of aircraft, and at least one weather element:
Reports should be made whenever unforecast weather conditions are encountered (in fact, for IFR flight, reports are required, see FAR 91.183(b)). If you're new to filing, check out the SkySpotter Program, cosponsored by the FAA and NWS Aviation Weather Center at AOPA. Also review section 7-1-21 Pilot Weather Reports in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).
Pilot reports should be used to augment a standard weather briefing. They may give extra insight into specific locations of icing or turbulence as opposed to wide area AIRMETs. They may also provide cloud tops, which would be unavailable from surface observation.
Caution: Absence of pilot reports does not mean weather matches forecast. It only means no one has made a report. Also consider that the report is made by a pilot rather than a meteorologist.
AvwWx.com translates most aircraft types into something more detailed, including Medium or Large wake indication for larger aircraft. Air carriers report flight number, rather than aircraft type. For these reports, the flight number will be displayed with aircraft type "(unknown)". Compare aircraft type with what you are flying. If a large plane is experiencing turbulence, your Cessna will likely be in severe trouble.
Many different icons are used to show PIREPs on AvnWx.com. Broadly, these are grouped as Icing or Turbulence icons, though a particular PIREP may contain information for both (or neither) Icing and Turbulence.
Always look at the (untranslated) comments in the Remarks (
/RMK) field. Here you may
see additional information about location, duration, or intensity of weather phenomena.
In addition to PIREPs, AvnWx.com translates and displays AIREPs. These are reports encoded according to Air Force Manual (AFMAN) 15-124. (The raw text of AIREPs starts frequently start with ARP).
Asian and European commercial aircraft sometimes make automated reports, AMDAR, following WMO FM-42 encoding. AvnWx.com does not display AMDAR reports at this time (they would appear as a set of position reports a few minutes apart primarily with location and temperature information.)AvnWx.com obtains PIREPs (and AIREPs) from NOAA Aviation Weather Center Digital Dataserver. PIREPs are retrieved world-wide, as available from NOAA. NOAA is checked every 5 minutes for updates. We retrieve that past few hours of reports, based on the value of expiration time control, above the map. If you change the expiration time, you will need to press to update the data collection. Information on this page is derived from AC 00-45E, AFMAN 15-124, WMO FM-42, and FAA Order 7110.10S Flight Services. For further information, see:
More information is available on the map's Forms and Controls, on the map's icons, and on the data sources.
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