How To Read PIREPs

In today’s article, we are going to explore the relationship between aviation and the weather, and how you can effectively understand what is happening on the outside of your plane.

how to read pireps

What Are PIREPS?

A Pilot Report. or PIREP, is a report that pilots make when they fly into an airport or during a flight.

It contains information about the runway conditions at the time of landing, as well as any other pertinent information such as wind speed and direction, visibility, temperature, etc.

The pilot who makes this report is called the “PIREP” (Pilot in Report) because he or she is the one making the report.

The term “PIREP” was first used by the FAA in the early 1970s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the acronym became popularized. Today, most pilots use the acronym PIREP for their reports.

How Do Pilots Use PIREPs?

Pilot reports of weather are a useful tool to understand what’s happening with the weather. However, they are quite difficult to read.

In fact, many people don’t even know how to read them. So, let’s take a look at some tips to help you better understand what these reports contain.

Tip 1: Don’t Read Every Word

You might be tempted to read every word of a PIREP, but you shouldn’t do so. You should only focus on the important parts of the report.

For example, if there is a warning about icing, then you need to pay attention to that part of the report.

But, if there is no mention of icing, then you don’t have to worry about reading that section of the report.

Tip 2: Look for Keywords

Another way to quickly identify keywords in a PIREP is to look for the words “Wind Direction”, “Visibility”, “Temperature”, “Precipitation”, “Icing Conditions”, and “Runway Condition”.

These are all common terms that appear in almost every PIREP.

If you see these words, then you can assume that there will probably be more information about those topics in the rest of the report.

If you want to learn more about how to interpret PIREPs, check out our free course: How To Interpret PIREPs.

Tip 3: Use Your Common Sense

If you are still having trouble understanding a PIREP, then just ask yourself whether something looks unusual. For instance, if the sky is clear, then you may not think anything needs to be reported.

But, if the sky suddenly becomes cloudy, then you should consider reporting that change.

Tip 4: Be Aware Of Time Zones

When you are flying from New York to London, you might notice that the time difference is different than usual.

This means that the time on the ground in London could be earlier than the time on the ground at JFK Airport. When you are flying into London, you should always account for this time zone difference.

Tip 5: Consider Using A Weather App

There are several apps available that allow you to view current weather conditions while you are flying. Some of these apps include FlightAware, ForeFlight, and LiveATC.

By using one of these apps, you can easily access current weather data without having to go through a PIREP.

Decoding PIREPs

Now that we’ve covered some ways to decipher PIREPS, let’s take a closer look at some examples.

Example 1: Clear Sky

This PIREP shows that there were no clouds in the area, and the sky was completely clear. There was also no precipitation or wind direction mentioned in the report.

Example 2: Icing Conditions

This PIREP states that there was ice present in the air, and visibility was below three miles. It also says that the temperature was -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Example 3: Runway Conditions

This PIREP can indicate that the runway has been cleared of snow (see also “Can Planes Fly In Snow?“) and that the winds are calm. The runway might also be dry, which meant that it wasn’t wet.

Example 4: Wind Direction

This PIREP states that there may be strong winds blowing.

What Is The Difference Between A PIREP And AIREP?

PIREPs are issued by pilots when they fly over areas with dangerous weather. They provide pilots with information about what weather conditions are currently present.

AIREPs are issued by air traffic control centers when they receive reports from pilots who have flown into their airspace.

AIREPs are often used to give pilots instructions about where they need to land. However, they aren’t always included in the PIREP because the pilot didn’t request them.

They are also not as useful as they contain limited information, i.e. winds, temperature, and flight level.

How To Make A PIREP?

To make a PIREP, you must first log onto your flight management system (FMS) and select “Weather” under “System Settings.” Then, click on “PIREPs” and enter the airport code and destination.

You’ll then get a list of all the airports within range. From here, you can choose the ones closest to your route. Once you find the airport you want, click on “Report,” and follow the prompts.

You will now see a screen asking you to enter the date, time, and location of the flight.

After entering those details, you can add any additional information you’d like to share. You can also choose to send the report directly to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

You will then be asked if you would like to save the report. If you do, you can download it later. Otherwise, you can just press “Save Report.”

What If I Have A PIREP I Don’t Understand?

The easiest solution to this is to download a cheat sheet. These sheets contain all the important pieces of information that are included in the PIREP.

For example, a PIREP could say that there was icing present, but you wouldn’t know whether the icing was light or heavy until you looked up the definition for the term.

Final Thoughts

PIREPs are very important for pilots. They help them avoid bad weather and other hazards. While most pilots know how to decode PIRERPs, many don’t realize that they can use them to their advantage.

For example, if you’re planning on landing at an airport that has poor visibility, you can check the PIREP before landing. This way, you won’t run into problems during your approach.

Jacob Stern
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