NOUS41 KWBC 261357



Public Information Statement, Comment Request

National Weather Service Headquarters Washington DC

955 AM EDT Thu Jun 26 2014


TO:†††††† NWS Offices

††††††††† Family of Services Subscribers

††††††††† Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Offices

††††††††† Other NWS Aviation Customers and Partners


FROM:†††† Cynthia Abelman

††††††††† Chief, Aviation Services Branch


SUBJECT:Solicitation of Comments for Transition of Select Area

††††††††† Forecasts (FA) to Digital and Graphical Alternatives

††††††††† Continues until August 4, 2014


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in coordination with

the NWS, has submitted a notice to the Federal Register

announcing its intent to transition seven (7) Area Forecasts

(FAs), used as flight planning and pilot weather briefing aids,

to digital and graphical alternatives. A joint-agency working

group has concluded that these digital and graphical alternatives

better-meet the needs of aviation users. Guidance with respect to

the proper use of these alternatives is forthcoming.


The FA is an abbreviated, plain-language forecast of specified

weather phenomena, covering a geographical area designated by the

FAA and produced by NWS.The FA is used to determine en-route

weather and to estimate conditions at airports that do not have a

Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF).


The FA contains weather information in a format originally

developed in the 1930s. By design, it carries a character-count

limitation and is prohibited from describing Instrument Flight

Rule (IFR) conditions reserved for AIRMETs and SIGMETs. It covers

an extremely large geographical area, typically, several states,

and is issued only 3-4 times daily, each valid for 18 hours.

These specifications tend to produce a broad forecast of limited

value. NWS provides equivalent information through a number of

better alternatives.


An FAA-NWS joint-agency working group recommended that the FA be

transitioned to more-modern digital and graphical forecasts,

observations, and communications capabilities that provide

improved weather information to decision-makers. The FAA will

formally recommend that NWS transition six (6) FAs covering

separate geographical areas of the Contiguous United States

(CONUS) and one (1) FA covering Hawaii to digital and graphical

alternatives already being produced by NWS.


The seven (7) Area Forecasts (FAs) affected include:††








FAHW31 (Hawaii).


FAs for Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico will not be

affected at this time.


Existing potential alternatives identified by the joint-agency

working group include, but are not limited to:


-†††† surface weather analyses and prognostic charts

-†††† public forecast discussions

-†††† Significant Weather (SIGWX) charts

-†††† National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD)

-†††† Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs)

-†††† Airmenís Meteorological Information (AIRMETs)


Aviators already use many of these weather products during normal

flight planning. Together, they provide information similar to

that found in the FA. The products listed above are higher

resolution and provide graphical depictions.


The joint-agency working groupís membership included broad

subject-matter expertise from both FAA and NWS, as well as the

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Members collected

insight from additional aviation weather stakeholders including

various pilot organizations, weather briefers, airlines and air

traffic controllers.


Before the transition takes place, the FAA will conduct a formal

Safety Risk Assessment as part of FAAís Safety Management System.

Guidance with respect to the proper use of proposed alternatives

is forthcoming.The agencies are targeting early 2015 for

transition. Interested parties and stakeholders may submit

comments regarding the planned transition by standard mail or by

e-mail. Comments must be received on or before August 4, 2014.


Please provide comments to:


Kevin Stone

National Weather Service

1325 East West Highway, Room 13342

Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

301-713-1726 X130†††††††††††††††


Michael Pat Murphy

Warning Coordination Meteorologist

Aviation Weather Center

7220 NW 101st Terrace, Room 101

Kansas City MO 64153



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