Aviation weather and other preflight briefing items are in the FAA’s new AC
I don’t think that I’m the only pilot out there who has become, shall we say, “relaxed” about my pre-flight briefings. Of course, I check the aviation weather and file the required flight plan, etc., but if you asked me if I go beyond the minimum pre-flight requirements outlined in FAR 91.103, I’d probably have to think long and hard about precisely what 91.103 requires.
I’m not proud of that, but professional pilots who do the same thing day in and day out tend to get into a routine. Unfortunately, because of this familiarity and habit, sometimes our briefings are not as thorough as they should be. It looks like the FAA realizes that and wants to do something about it.
A new FAA Advisory Circular (AC) out to help pilots do a better job with their pre-flight briefings. The FAA created AC 91-92 to offer guidance on how to establish highly effective pre-flight briefings. The AC is a 20-page document that goes far beyond the minimum requirements. Most of us could probably benefit from a refresher on being entirely prepared for our upcoming flights.
According to the FAA, the AC serves as an “educational roadmap for developing and implementing pre-flight self-briefings, including flight planning, weather interpretation, and risk identification/mitigation skills.” Did you notice they say “SELF” briefings? Whether you are a crew of 10, 2, or 1, these skills are helpful and could save your life.
Weather is a considerable part of these briefings. A guide on best interpreting and utilizing all of the technologically advanced weather data available to us now would be invaluable. Pilots should correctly interpret weather in all phases of flight, including using technology such as ADS-B and third-party non-government providers.
Here’s one that I didn’t see coming: the FAA even includes Flight Service Stations (FSS) as an essential source of comprehensive weather and aeronautical information. I thought the FSS was long gone, but apparently, they’ve just been consolidated and are still just a phone call away.
Pilots can also find great information in the two appendices that follow the main section of the AC. The first appendix is a comprehensive list of the elements of a pre-flight briefing, along with their specific value to the pilot and website links for those who want more information. The second appendix is a sample pre-flight checklist for anyone looking to ensure they have covered all the essential items before their flight.
It’s easy to think that we know what we’re doing and don’t need any guidance on something as simple as a pre-flight briefing, but it can’t hurt to give it a quick look. Aviation weather used to be just a call to a weather briefer and he/she would tell us everything we needed to know. Now it’s up to us. The new AC intends to make sure we don’t miss anything important. It’s worth a review!