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11 Answers

Using area forecast product when flying into uncontrolled airport.

Asked by: 1811 views FAA Regulations, Instrument Rating

I remember from my instrument training that when I fly into uncontrolled airport with no TAFs, I can use Area Forecast to predict the weather at the time of arrival.

Does anyone know where to look up for this information?


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11 Answers

  1. Russ Roslewski on Nov 17, 2016

    A million places. Foreflight has it, I’m sure the other EFBs do too.




    Pretty much any weather briefing/flight planning site or app should have them.

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  2. Russ Roslewski on Nov 17, 2016

    I should add that if you like the “old-style” text FA product, enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s supposed to be discontinued sometime soon.

    The replacement is a graphical product, available here, among other places I’m sure:


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  3. connor on Nov 17, 2016

    I think there was a miscommunication.
    I meant to say where we would look up for the text saying that FA will replace TAF.


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  4. Russ Roslewski on Nov 17, 2016

    Okay, gotcha.

    91.169 just refers to “weather forecasts” and does not specifically refer to either TAFs or FAs. So in the absence of a TAF, you would have to use an FA, as there isn’t really another choice that shows ceilings.

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  5. Skyfox on Nov 17, 2016

    From Aviation Weather Services [AC 00-45G] section 7.1:

    “An Area Forecast (FA) is a forecast in an abbreviated plain language of specified weather phenomena covering a flight information region (FIR) or other area designated by the meteorological authority. The Area Forecast (in conjunction with AIRMETs, SIGMETs, Convective SIGMETs, CWAs, etc.), is used to determine forecast en route weather and to interpolate conditions at airports which do not have a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF). As such, it serves as a flight planning and pilot weather briefing aid for use by general aviation pilots, civil and military aviation operations, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) weather briefers. Area forecasts are not intended for use as a substitute for a TAF in 14 CFR part 121 Air Carrier operations. In these operations, a TAF is required to meet part 121 regulatory requirements.”

    And from the earlier version of the same document, AC 00-45E, section 4:

    “To understand the complete weather picture, the FA must be used in conjunction with the inflight aviation weather advisories. Together, they are used to determine forecast en route weather and to interpolate conditions at airports for which no TAFs are issued.”

    It may also be in some of my textbooks at home, but I’m at work as I write this so I can’t look.

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  6. Mark Unruh on Nov 19, 2016

    Also my instructor taught me that a good rule of thumb is if there is no TAF at your destination than you will automatically need to list an alternate airport. (For IFR flying)

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  7. Russ Roslewski on Nov 19, 2016

    That is absolutely incorrect. 91.169 does not support that at all.

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  8. Mark Unruh on Nov 21, 2016

    I believe his thought was the only way to satisfy the 123 rule is if there is a TAF. You cant get that specific information from an FA.

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  9. Russ Roslewski on Nov 24, 2016

    I disagree. Here is the current FA for Oklahoma:


    This pretty clearly indicates that if you are headed to any airport in Oklahoma that has a published instrument approach during the valid time of the FA, no alternate is required. “SKC” easily meets the 1-2-3 rule. The only portion of the state that even comes close is the Eastern part, where it might be 3 sm vis until 1400Z. But even that meets the 1-2-3 rule.

    Now, this is a “what is required by the regs” discussion. There is certainly nothing wrong with always identifying an alternate airport, and if the weather forecast is at the limits of the 1-2-3 rule, it’s a smart idea to do it. But to say that you MUST file an alternate if the airport doesn’t have a TAF is simply not correct. It’s not even a very good as a rule of thumb, in my opinion, because it disregards an understanding of the rules and weather in favor of a rote approach to determining the alternate. The rule of thumb might as well just say “always file an alternate regardless of weather”.

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  10. Mark Unruh on Nov 25, 2016

    I agree with you Russ and thanks for informing me, not sure why he taught me like that. So the controlling weather forecast for filing an alternate would be METAR’s, TAF’s and FA’s. I’m in Africa right now but did I hear that FA are going to be discounted? If so what will we do then?

    I found this on AOPA:

    Instrument pilots who rely on area forecasts to determine whether to file an alternate airport will be able to use new graphical products to determine ceiling and visibility, he said. Other weather products currently available from the National Weather Service that provide information similar to area forecasts, in graphical format, include surface weather analysis and prognostic charts; significant weather (SIGWX) charts; and airmets.

    The transition will require the FAA to update federal aviation regulations to remove references to area forecasts. Publications such as the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the Aeronautical Information Manual also will be updated. Some airman knowledge tests and supplements will be amended to remove questions and graphics related to area forecasts.

    “Many pilots use area forecasts when flying, so this will be a big change, but it will be a positive change as we head away from complex text toward user-friendly graphics,” Duke said.

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  11. Russ Roslewski on Nov 25, 2016

    You are correct, FAs themselves are going away. But that information is being replaced.

    The new graphical format of FAs is up on the testbed website:


    Try clicking around on the tabs at the top, especially the “Clouds” tab. That gets you to similar information as to what is in the current FAs for clouds, but in an easier to use and understand format, at least it is to me. There is a tab for CIG/VIS as well.

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