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Pilots needed: Experimental pirep testing in Oklahoma and Alaska

If successful, the effort could pave the way toward an additional means to file and retrieve pireps.

Almost everyone agrees that pireps are a good thing, as one of the key sources of weather information when it comes to evaluating conditions aloft. A frequent complaint is that there aren’t enough reports in the system, especially at the altitudes typically used by general aviation aircraft. In AOPA user surveys, one of the reasons for not providing pireps is that air traffic control frequencies are too busy or that filing them with flight service takes too long. This project aims to improve access to pireps via radio by providing a dedicated frequency and an automated ground station exclusively for filing and retrieving reports.

The proof-of-concept project will use artificial Intelligence, natural language processing, and cloud computing to let pilots report and retrieve pireps—all without having to talk to a human. The project is slated to run for several months starting this fall and the FAA is looking for pilots to participate—spanning the full gamut of aviation experience, including student, private, air taxi, corporate, and airline pilots. Participants will be paid for the pireps they file—however, they must also take an online survey every two weeks before they will receive compensation. If you fly in the vicinity of either of these locations, and are willing to help test this new approach to filing and retrieving pireps, additional information and a link to sign up for the study can be found online.

You could be pioneering a new way to provide and obtain information, using nothing more than the radio in your airplane.

Nenana Municipal Airport in Nenana, Alaska, is one of two airports participating in a project to file pireps using automated ground stations. Graphic courtesy of the FAA.

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