The FAA now says pilots should do their own preflight self-briefing on the internet before flying and use Flight Service “in a consultative capacity” if they run into trouble. The agency has issued an advisory circular (AC) that essentially codifies what most pilots have been doing for a decade or more. “The FAA considers that a self-briefing may be compliant with current federal aviation regulations,” noting that there is likely better information available from the myriad apps and websites devoted to that purpose than by phoning a briefer. “By self-briefing, pilots can often improve their knowledge of weather and aeronautical information. Flight Service personnel are available should a pilot need assistance.”
The AC was issued March 15 and acknowledges that aviation technology has moved on from the 1-800-WX-BRIEF number drilled into student pilots for decades and that it should only be used as a backup. “Pilots are encouraged to utilize online automated weather resources to conduct self-briefings prior to contacting Flight Service,” the AC says. “Pilots who have preflight weather/risk assessment and risk mitigation skills are better prepared to make in-flight decisions as real-time weather information is consumed. This allows Flight Service to become a consultative resource that can be utilized when needed.” The AC isn’t a rule or a law and a legal preflight can still be obtained from Flight Service to satisfy the regs.