The launch of the IFR pilot course comes one year after the FAA released Advisory Circular (AC) 91-92, Pilot’s Guide to a Preflight Briefing and its VFR self-briefing course. In the AC, the FAA acknowledges that more pilots are conducting self-briefings, rather than calling flight service and that these self-briefings “may be compliant with current Federal aviation regulations” as long as that briefing satisfies FAR 91.103, which states, “Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.”
While the number of pilot self-briefings is increasing, according to the 2022 AOPA Weather Survey, only 67 percent of pilots are aware of AC 91-92.
Because self-briefings can often fall short of a briefing received from an experienced flight service specialist, the FAA has released its self-briefing course for IFR pilots and students. As with the VFR version, participants of the IFR self-briefing course can earn credit in the FAA Wings Pilot Proficiency program.
In a recent Joseph T. Nall Report, data from 2019 show that poor IFR technique is the second-most fatal weather-related type of accident after VFR into IMC, with IFR pilots making up about one-third of VFR into IMC accidents. In addition, the data show that of accidents involving deficient instrument approach procedures, about 75 percent are fatal. Paul Deres, senior director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, said this data “could suggest a lack of proper preflight and procedural briefings.”
“The IFR Wings course is a follow on to the VFR course that has reached more than 6000 pilots. The Wings courses elaborate on the guidance in Advisory Circular [91-92] … when using automated resources,” said FAA Director of Flight Service Kathleen Edic. “Flight Service will host a webinar on self-briefing on October 13 and the FAA believes these skills are just as important to pilots as flying skills. As we expand weather cameras into Hawaii and [the continental United States], we are excited about the possibility of offering more resources for weather information,” she added.
The video course uses real-world scenarios and covers everything a pilot needs to know about conducting a thorough preflight weather briefing, from weather and aeronautical elements to next-generation weather radar (Nexrad).