Preflight Services 1-800-WX-Brief (1-800-992-7433)
All Air Traffic Control Specialists assigned to Lockheed Martin Flight Services are certified as Pilot Weather Briefers by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Service Safety and Operations. Pilot Weather Briefers are authorized to translate and interpret available NWS products describing the enroute and destination weather. The leading contributing factor to general aviation accidents is weather. Pilot Weather Briefers are trained to help you avoid dangerous situations.
The Aeronautical Information Manual states that pilots-in-command, before beginning a flight, shall familiarize themselves with all available information concerning that flight.
Flight Services is the primary source for obtaining preflight briefings and in-flight weather information. You can walk into any Flight Service facility to review available aviation weather products and charts, or choose to use telephones or radio.
Three types of preflight briefings are available: the Standard Briefing, Abbreviated Briefing and the Outlook Briefing. Make it clear to the briefer at the outset what type of briefing you require, and then provide background information about the proposed flight. Required background information includes:
- Type of Flight: VFR or IFR
- Aircraft Identification or Pilot's Name
- Aircraft Type
- Departure Point
- Estimated Time of Departure
- Estimated Time Enroute
Background information is mandatory data for the weather briefer. If any of these nine items are missing, a briefer may be unable to properly tailor the briefing to the specific flight the pilot has planned.
A Standard Briefing includes complete weather and aeronautical information for flight planning. Request a Standard Briefing when the flight will occur within six hours of the briefing. A Standard Weather Briefing includes:
- Adverse Conditions — Current or forecast conditions which may adversely affect a planned flight, such as Convective SIGMETS, SIGMETS, AIRMETS, and Center Weather Advisories. Adverse conditions include (but are not limited to) icing, turbulence, thunderstorms, mountain obscuration and instrument flight conditions.
- VFR Flight Not Recommended (VNR) — When a VFR flight is proposed and the actual or forecast conditions, surface based or aloft, in the briefer's judgment, make visual flight doubtful. Remember, the final go/no-go decision always belongs to the pilot.
- Synopsis — A brief statement describing the type, location and movement of weather systems affecting the flight.
- Current Conditions — A summary of the current weather along the proposed route. The current weather is omitted when the estimated time of departure is more than two hours from the time of the briefing, unless requested by the pilot.
- Enroute Forecast — Summarized from various sources, to provide forecast conditions along the proposed route of flight.
- Destination Forecast — A destination forecast including significant changes one hour before and after the estimated time of arrival.
- Winds Aloft Forecast — Available at 3,000; 6,000; 9,000; 12,000; 18,000; 24,000; 30,000; 34,000 and 39,000 feet.
- Notices to Airmen — NOTAM D, NOTAM L, and non-published FDC NOTAMS.
- ATC Delays — Information on known ATC delays (IFR only). Information on military training activity and published NOTAMS are provided upon request.
Request an Abbreviated Briefing to supplement or update previously received information. Here are three examples of situations where an Abbreviated Briefing will work to your advantage:
- You received a Standard Briefing earlier in the day. An Abbreviated Briefing could be requested for those items that have changed, such as current weather or updated forecasts. The briefer will need the background information and the time of the earlier briefing.
- Weather information has been received from one of the other briefing outlets, such as TIBS or other sources. Supplemental information is needed to complete preflight planning, such as NOTAMS, air traffic delays or an updated destination forecast. The briefer will need the background information and the time the earlier information was received.
- When you require only one or two items, request an Abbreviated Briefing and state the specific aviation weather products you need. "This is N12345, I would like an Abbreviated Briefing, the current and forecast weather at Bakersfield." Remember to provide the briefer with enough information to complete your request. In this example, Estimated Time of Arrival at Bakersfield would be required.
The important point about an Abbreviated Briefing is what it does not do: it does not provide a complete weather picture of the route of flight. It should never be used as a shortcut for a standard briefing. An Abbreviated Briefing can save time if you have already received a Standard Briefing.
When the Estimated Time of Departure is more than six hours away, request an Outlook Briefing. After receiving the background information, the briefer will provide forecast data applicable to the proposed flight.
If any portion of a briefing is unclear to you, stop the briefer and get the point clarified. Save your general questions until the end of the briefing.