Detailed weather conditions at airports are easy to obtain through a metar, ATIS, AWOS or ASOS. Conditions such as winds, temperatures, cloud conditions and visibilities are measured by ground-based equipment and can be obtained through frequencies, phone numbers, iPad apps and some panel-mounted avionics. But weather conditions are harder to measure in the air. That’s where you come in. Pireps provide pilots with the most accurate weather information and can help others make a go/no-go decision.
Some airlines provide automatic pireps through Arinc’s Meteorological Data Collection and Reporting System. But these reports are generally only useful if you’re flying in the higher flight levels. Most general aviation pilots must rely on each other to provide the most accurate inflight weather information.
You may only feel the need to make a pilot report when you encounter unexpected weather phenomena or dangerous conditions such as severe turbulence or icing conditions. But information that states clear and smooth conditions can also be valuable to pilots flying behind you. Such a report is likely to help a VFR pilot who is trying to make a go/no-go decision.
If you are using newer avionics, you may be able to make a more accurate report than was possible before the days of glass panels. Wind conditions used to be nearly impossible for a pilot to estimate, but now you can provide an accurate figure if you are using technologically advanced equipment. You can also use your GPS to estimate the visibility a little bit more accurately than you could with a sectional or terminal chart.
There are many ways of submitting a pirep and it doesn’t take much time out of your day — likely less than a minute. The report should include your location, altitude, aircraft type, the time of the report and the weather conditions. You can report your weather conditions to the controller you are communicating with, a Flight Service Station on 122.2 or over the phone, or Flight Watch on 122.0. Making a pirep is a quick and easy way of helping out the pilots flying behind you.