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IFR Fix: Weather is a dish served raw

As in all things aviation, a skilled operator keeps up with system change, reaps benefits from technological upgrades, and grows as a pilot. Obtaining what the FAA refers to as a regulations-compliant weather briefing by using technological sources, without having to speak to a flight service specialist, is one such opportunity.

At the other end of the proficiency scale is the practitioner who exploits advances to find new ways to cut corners or push safety boundaries. In between, likely, are the many pilots who keep up with innovation as best they can. They are glad for value-added opportunities to use their cellphones, tablets, and aircraft ADS-B In installations to gather information—but faced with the plenitude of raw data, interactive graphics, and a go/no-go decision to make, are they as good at decision making as they are at data gathering?

If you think you have a way to go before getting to yes, some newly issued material from the FAA can help get you on track.

One item is a new batch of sample instrument rating airplane knowledge test questions that came out March 23—good review material for a do-it-yourselfer. Here’s a goal: Try to answer the questions as well as the 95 percent of all applicants in 2020 who passed the exam with an average score of 85.

We recently reported on the publication of a new advisory circular issued to address possible gaps in a pilot’s ability to round up preflight weather data and interpret it without the usual assist from that seasoned specialist who so skillfully served up the right information in just the right order.

AC 91-92 “provides an educational roadmap for the development and implementation of preflight self-briefings, including planning, weather interpretation, and risk identification/mitigation skills,” it says, noting that topics cover both preflight and in-cockpit information capabilities.

Note that although the AC’s goal is to provide guidance for meeting the required-preflight-action standard of FAR 91.103, it doesn’t slam the door on your reaching out for a second opinion on the weather; pilots should “utilize Flight Service in a consultative capacity, when needed.”

If it’s been a while since your last consultation, use the interactive device in your pocket to reach out by calling 800-WX-Brief (800-992-7433).

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