In aviation, weather is a major factor. It affects aircraft operation, as well as design. A range of different weather and atmospheric conditions can complicate flights and compromise safety in the air. High winds, extreme temperatures, heavy rain and snow, fog, smog, dust, smoke, lightning, and other atmospheric conditions pose serious danger to all types of aircraft. This is why resources like aviation weather radar and aviation weather forecasts are so valuable.
These tools have been developed to detect and predict atmospheric activity that could disrupt and endanger fights. Apart from aviation weather detection and forecasting, aircraft design can account for safer flights in adverse weather. From the aircraft’s frame to its lighting systems, and the technology that enables navigation and communication, a craft’s ability to safely fly through various conditions depends on all of these assets and more.
Aviation Weather Forecast Tools Aviation Weather Services
An aviation weather forecast can be acquired from many different sources. Federally maintained websites, phone lines, and numerous aviation weather apps provide detailed weather forecasting for pilots and other professionals. Most aviation weather reporting in the United States will use NOAA National Weather Service data. This data is obtained through a combination of atmospheric monitoring technology and the work of expert meteorologists.
NOAA works closely with the FAA to develop and refine the protocol for better aviation weather forecasting. Just a few of the current weather tools for pilots, air traffic managers, and airlines include the Collaborative Connective Forecast Product (CCFP), the Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS), Graphical Forecast for Aviation (GFA), and G-AIRMET.
Pilot Weather Tools
Pilot weather tools include reports and forecast graphics that deal with current weather activity and specific hazards. In the United States, many of these tools are maintained by the NOAA with input from other organizations. Standard weather reports for pilots and aviators can be obtained through a Meteorological Aerodrome Report (METAR). METARs will give pilots region-specific data on cloud cover and height, visibility, barometric pressure, temperature, dew point, wind direction and speed, precipitation, etc.
These reports originate from weather observatories and airports and are generated hourly or every 30 minutes. You do not need to be a pilot or metrologist access and read a METAR. They are often free and available to anyone, but to interoperate them correctly, you will need to be familiar with standard codes and abbreviations used to indicate weather data, such as runway visibility and perception levels.
Other pilot weather forecast reports include SPECI reports, which are issued only when conditions call for a special advisory or alert, such as low visibility or a lightning storm. TAF reports, also known as terminal aerodrome forecast reports, are also used by pilots. They provide a view of weather conditions over a general area but are not issued as frequently as METAR. These and other aviation forecasts will typically be identified by the issuing weather stations’ World Meteorological Organization ID code and the report’s date and time. This makes it easier for pilots and other professionals to quickly identify the report that’s most relevant to their flight.
Choosing An Aviation Weather App
An aviation weather app gives aviators easy access to various flight weather data. There are many different mobile applications and tools that deliver this. They include paid and free apps that are designed specifically for private, commercial, and recreational pilots, as well as apps that deal with more specific aspects of flight weather, including severe storms, wind, ice, cloud cover, etc. Some apps are more focused on forecasts rather than current conditions and alerts.
Choosing the best aviation weather app usually boils down to personal preference and accessibility. For example, some apps do a better job of pairing with smartwatches, other apps will have more focus on aviation weather radar than chart-based and numeric data. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the apps source their information from NOAA, which now offers its own no-connection required weather app.