Pilot Weather Reports (PIREPs)
Notice Number: NOTC7155
So, what is a PIREP anyway, I mean really? A pilot report or PIREP is a pilot’s report of actual weather conditions encountered while airborne. Typically, pilots file a report to ATC or Flight Service when the weather conditions are not the same as the forecast, or when the conditions are actually worse than the forecast. Low visibility, turbulence, icing, and thunderstorms are good examples of actual weather conditions that may not be in the forecast but may be conditions a pilot experiences during flight.
What pilots don’t often realize is that a PIREP should also be filed when the weather is better-than-forecast. A PIREP filed to report good weather is just as important as a PIREP filed to report bad weather.
The main purpose of a PIREP is Safety! PIREPs help weather forecasters update their data, and improve the quality and accuracy of a weather forecast. These reports also assist pilots, dispatchers, and flight planners to develop a mitigation strategy for possible weather hazards encountered during a flight.
The FAA has a new, electronic PIREP submission tool at the National Weather Service’s Aviation Weather Center Digital Data Service (ADDS) website. Registered users can electronically submit turbulence and icing PIREPs on the site, which are instantly displayed in graphical form and distributed nationwide. Visit https://www.aviationweather.gov/user/register to register on the Aviation Weather Center site. For more information, see INFO 14011 – Electronic Submission of Pilot Weather Reports (PIREP).
You can also submit PIREPs, as usual, by radio call to the ground facility for your established communications (i.e., FSS, ARTCC, or terminal ATC). If you are unable to submit a PIREP inflight, you can also call the nearest FSS or Weather Forecast Office upon landing. Use the form linked here to help with formatting your report.
One important thing to keep in mind: Although the PIREP should be as complete and concise as possible, pilots should not be overly concerned with strict format or phraseology. The important thing is to relay the information so that other pilots can benefit from your observation.
Are PIREP reports required by regulation? No. However, it is every pilot’s responsibility to file PIREPs, even if there isn’t a specific regulatory requirement to do so. As noted in 14 CFR section 91.183(b), the pilot in command of each aircraft operated under IFR in controlled airspace must report any unforecast weather conditions encountered as soon as possible. VFR pilots may feel that PIREPs are not important since they can see the weather, but it’s every pilot’s responsibility to file PIREPs even if there isn’t a specific regulatory requirement to do so. Filing PIREPs improves safety for everyone in our National Airspace System (NAS). Remember — the PIREP you file could save the life of a fellow aviator!
Free PIREP training is available on FAASafety.gov. Look for the Air Safety Institute’s SkySpotter “PIREPs Made Easy” course (FAASafety.gov course ALC-96). After registration and completion of the course, you will receive WINGS credit that you can use to complete your Flight Review.
PIREPs are each and every pilot’s responsibility, so spread the word!
Additional Helpful Links
Access Aviation Weather Center ADDS Aircraft Reports
Operational Implementation of AWC Online PIREP Submission Form
Inflight Electronic PIREP Submission (1800WXBRIEF)
NOTE: Uses the installed Honeywell system through the Iridium satellite system.
Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) Chapter >7-1-19, Pilot Weather Reports
“Pipe Up With PIREPs” FAA Safety Briefing magazine, May/June 2008