NTSB Reminds Pilots To Report Weather


It might seem that in an age of instant online weather, the need for pilot reports, or pireps, would be a thing of the past, but that’s far from true, according to a recent NTSB forum. “Pireps done right have enormous untapped potential to make aviation safer for pilots, passengers, and people on the ground,” said board member Robert Sumwalt, in opening remarks. The two-day forum gathered a panel of experts to explore the status of the FAA’s pireps system and share ideas for improving it. “We at the NTSB have investigated numerous accidents that illustrate a complex set of relationships in the pirep system as it presently functions – or doesn’t function,” Sumwalt said. “And I don’t think any of us think our pirep system is functioning optimally.” Pilot reports can be the best source of information about critical weather such as icing, but they also can be inaccurate, and the pilots who need them may not get them on a timely basis.

Matthew Tucker, an air traffic controller in Atlanta, said some controllers have been taking action on their own to solicit pireps and improve the system. “Fort Worth Center has been emphasizing pireps and their numbers have gone way up … [they] are pushing to double or better the numbers,” he said in his presentation. Mike Glasgow, of Lockheed Martin, said it’s possible for pilots to electronically submit pireps, but many pilots are unaware of the service and it’s underutilized. Presentations from the forum are posted online, and a full webcast of the two-day event can be accessed online for the next 90 days.