NOAA 2004-112
Contact: Pat Slattery

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Airline dispatchers and NOAA’s National Weather Service have worked together over the past year to enhance the collection of critical weather data that will help improve air travel safety through more accurate forecasting. The National Weather Service’s Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo., led the charge with a simple change: allow airline dispatchers to file their pilot reports (colloquially called PIREPs) through the Internet for relay into the FAA’s weather information system. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Timely, accurate and focused environmental information for pilots will help assure safety for the aviation industry,” said retired Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of NOAA's National Weather Service and former U.S. Air Force pilot.

“At the Aviation Weather Center, we live and breathe PIREPs. In-air reports from pilots is one of the most important pieces of information our forecasters have,” said Jack May, director of the Aviation Weather Center. “Real-time reports of conditions such as icing and turbulence are critical in determining future conditions.”

According to May, the AWC received more than a thousand pilot reports via the new Internet method in October, and those reports increased the total number of PIREPs by seven percent. Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines have become the most active participants.

In mid November, Southwest will stop logging PIREPs on its internal system and will, instead, enter them through the AWC Web page.

“This is a major step and boost to the project by Southwest,” May said, “because it will make thousands of more Pilot Reports readily available to those who need them, such as airline dispatchers, aviation weather forecasters and the aviation weather research community.”

Rick Curtis, manager of dispatch automation for Southwest Airlines, said, “During the past few months, our dispatchers have made the transition from entering PIREPs in our internal reporting database to the national system by using the AWC PIREP reporting interface. The transition has been very smooth, and now we can share these PIREPs with the entire aviation community. This is a great tool and we’re proud to be on board.”

PIREPs are submitted to the AWC over a secure Web site to protect the integrity of the reports. The aviation community has easy access to this information from wherever PIREPs are obtained, including FAA Flight Service Stations, FAA’s Direct User Access Terminal System (DUATS), NOAA’s Aviation Digital Data Service, and a variety of commercial flight preparation packages.

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NWS operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

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