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I am in the Central Time Zone (add 6 hours) for Zulu Time.  I have trouble converting Zulu Time back into regular time.  Especially when it comes to TAF's in the FM sections.  (i.e. FM0300) 

Does anyone have an easy way to decipher the UTC to make it easy for all pilots to understand?

Thank you!


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6 Answers

  1. John A Lindholm on Mar 13, 2011

    One way is to remember it’s always LATER in LONDON (although they go on daylight time also, but that won’t matter to you)…. as of today, 5 hours for Zulu conversion.  So, if the forecast is for 1800Z that means it’s for 1300, or 1 pm CDT for your local time. 
    Get yourself used to using 24 hour time and then your Zulu conversions will become easier.

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  2. Micah on Mar 13, 2011

    Practice. John is right about 24-hour time–that’s what has always thrown me off. If you can handle it, set your watch for zulu and learn that way (this is much more frustrating with a 12-hour watch, I never actually could learn). Now I have a watch with a third hand (zulu pointer). 
    A few more helpful hints: I’m also central, so remember that noon = 18z (17z in summer, because you are -5 and not -6). Also, pull TAFs and METARs at the same time. Except for irregular updates, most observations are around the hour:55 mark, so if you know it is 10 after 2p, and the METAR reads 1856, then you should remember that 1856z = 1:56 local. Also, remember that TAFs are routinely released at 6a, 12p, and 6p so these should begin at 12z, 18z, and 00z.

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  3. Kent Shook on Mar 14, 2011

    The other thing that I generally do is to convert the time I want to fly into Zulu time (“Okay, I’m gonna depart at 10 AM – That’s 1500Z – and fly for 2 hours, to 1700Z”) before I look at the weather products – That way, I only have to do the covnversion once instead of having to go through it to read each line of the TAF/FA/METAR/etc.

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  4. Flight Student on Mar 14, 2011

    Also, isn’t it true that you subtract if your GMT is (+), and add if your GMT is (-)?  
    So, it’s the opposite.  Subtract if GMT is positive and add if GMT is negative.

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  5. Micah on Mar 14, 2011

    FS, the +/- is a relative reference. A snarky answer would be that it only matters if you get it wrong. Like John said, GMT is always later in the day than US/Canadian time zones, so your local US/Canadian time will be less. Add the adjustment to your local time get to GMT or subtract from GMT to get your local time. If you’re in Europe or otherwise East of GMT, that rule would be opposite.

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  6. Dave on Mar 17, 2011

    Here’s one thing that’s really helped me with Zulu time conversion. I’ve started downloading my ATC from LiveATC.net. All of LiveATC.net is in Zulu time, so I have to consider the time I flew, convert that to Zulu, then find the appropriate audio on LiveATC.net.
    Two benefits. It’s a nice exercise in conversion, two it’s a nice reminder of your radio work. I do record my cockpit audio, yet listening to it off of a scanner somewhere near by show more warts than my in cockpit sessions. I think it’s because my in cockpit recordings have my CFI, so I’m reviewing what he’s telling me, while the LiveATC.net recording is just the ATC conversation.
    Any rate, good way to practice your zulu conversion while practicing your radio.

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