The National Transportation Safety Board, in a special investigation report released on Thursday, April 13, 2017 , has called for changes in training and procedures for pilots, air traffic controllers and others within the aviation community to enhance the effectiveness of the entire pilot weather reporting system with the intent to reduce pilots’ inadvertent encounters with hazardous weather and to prevent weather-related accidents.
Pilot weather reports, or PIREPs, are brief reports from pilots of observed in-flight weather conditions. Pilots, flight dispatchers and air traffic controllers use the information from these reports to help all pilots avoid weather hazards, including those that may not otherwise be known from weather radar and other detection systems and forecasts alone. Meteorologists also use PIREPs to validate or amend forecasts, enhancing the accuracy of the weather information made available to the aviation community.
“Even with the many advances that have been made in weather modeling and forecasting in recent years, there’s still nothing that can replicate the value of pilots’ reports of the weather conditions they encounter,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “As a longtime general aviation and air carrier pilot, I can’t overemphasize the importance of PIREPs. They provide pilots of all types of aircraft with critical real-time information that can enhance safety for everyone in the skies”
In developing the report, Improving Pilot Weather Report (PIREP) Submission and Dissemination to Benefit Safety in the National Airspace System (NAS), staff investigated numerous aviation accidents in which weather was a factor and held a two-day forum on PIREPs in June 2016, which all revealed deficiencies in how PIREPs were reported, collected, disseminated and used.