Q: If I use my iPad for a self-weather briefing before each flight, am I also required to contact Flight Service for my briefing to be considered legal?
A: No. The regulations (FAR 91.103, on preflight action) require you to check weather reports and forecasts for IFR flights and those not in the vicinity of the airport but make no reference to Flight Service. It’s perfectly legal to go the self-briefing route before each flight using the comprehensive set of weather products available in your favorite aviation mobile app or website that come from government weather sources. The FAA released a new Advisory Circular in March 2021, AC 91-92, further clarifying this by stating that a “self-briefing may be compliant with current FARs” and “this allows Flight Service to become a consultative resource that can be utilized when needed.”
When conducting a self-briefing, it’s important that you add some structure to ensure no weather product or airspace restriction is overlooked. AC 91-92 provides guidance here, too, with a helpful checklist to follow and includes sources for everything from weather hazards to TFRs. The AC also makes it clear that Flight Service will continue to be available for those who prefer a traditional briefing. In some cases, it may be the only option when an internet connection isn’t available.
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