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How to Obtain a Weather Briefing





Watch the video below or continue reading for our quick guide on obtaining a weather briefing and the weather briefing types you should use.

How to Obtain a Weather Briefing

Before you fly, getting a comprehensive aviation weather briefing is a critical step to ensure flight safety. Here’s how you can get a detailed briefing to make informed decisions for your journey.

Contacting Flight Service Stations

Flight Service Stations (FSS) are your first point of contact for obtaining a pilot weather briefing. By calling an FSS, you’ll receive a tailored briefing from a specialist trained to assist pilots.

You can request different types of briefings depending on your needs: a Standard Briefing for immediate departures, an Outlook Briefing for flights planned more than six hours away, or an Abbreviated Briefing for updated information if you’ve already received a full briefing.

The FAA’s FSS website offers direct contact and further information.

Using Online Aviation Weather Services

Alternatively, you can leverage online aviation weather services to gather the necessary forecasts and conditions.

Online platforms such as the Aviation Weather Center and 1800WXBrief provide comprehensive weather information and interactive tools.

These services allow you to visually analyze weather patterns and offer a pathway to submit flight plans.

Types of Weather Briefings

There are three types of weather briefings you can request:

  1. A Standard briefing – Offers an in-depth look at your flight plan, including current conditions and forecasts.
  2. Outlook briefing – Useful for understanding weather trends when planning a flight several days in advance.
  3. Abbreviated Briefing – Provides updates to a previous briefing or specific information upon request.

Obtain the Pre-Flight Weather Briefing

To start your pre-flight preparation, gather raw weather data and forecasts. Start by checking broad patterns and trends several days in advance, which can be gleaned from sources like commercial television or certain online platforms. As your flight day approaches, refine this information using official aviation resources.

  • Synopsis: Get an overview of large-scale weather patterns.
  • Enroute Forecasts: Identify weather conditions along your planned route.
  • Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs): Review predicted conditions at your departure and arrival airports.
  • NOTAMs: Check for Notices to Airmen that might affect your flight.

A standard briefing is requested for flights that are due to depart within six hours, and requires the following information:

  • Type of flight (VFR or IFR).
  • Aircraft identification.
  • Aircraft type
  • Cruising true airspeed.
  • Departure airport.
  • Proposed departure time.
  • Proposed cruising altitude.
  • Route of flight.
  • Destination.
  • Estimated time en route.
  • Remarks
  • Fuel on board
  • Alternate airport.

An Outlook briefing is requested if your proposed departure time is six hours or more in the future.

And an abbreviated briefing is requested to update an earlier briefing.

Each of these briefings will give you current weather information for airports along your route, forecasts and winds aloft.

What is No-Go Weather

No-go weather is when weather conditions are too bad to fly. What constitutes as no-go weather can be determined by your local flight environment and skill level, but here are some general no-go weather conditions:

  • Visibility less than 3 miles
  • Ceilings below 1000 feet
  • Crosswinds over 20 knots
  • Severe turbulence

Weather is a big factor in having a safe and successful flight, so make sure you take the time to get accurate aviation weather briefings before each flight.

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