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AOPA Air Safety Foundation is tracking 'SkySpotter' pilot weather reports to improve serviceAOPA Air Safety Foundation is tracking 'SkySpotter' pilot weather reports to improve service

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is asking registered SkySpotters TM to log their pilot reports (pireps) and then post that information to a dedicated ASF feedback Web page. Respondents will be eligible for free SkySpotter TM T-shirts to be awarded at random.

ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg said the tracking information is crucial to improving the growing weather-reporting program launched at AOPA Expo 2001 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The safety initiative is co-sponsored by the National Weather Service and Federal Aviation Administration.

"We want to improve the program from the outset because these en route reports are so important for pilots to make better-educated go/no-go decisions. This feedback will make that possible," Landsberg said.

"Pilots must make it clear during a pirep that it's a SkySpotter TM report. Then the pilot and ASF can check the Aviation Weather Center's Web site to make sure the report got through." An AWC Web page shows a daily total of SkySpotter TM reports.

"It's easy to see that pilots want to be safer when you look at more than 3,700 registered SkySpotters TM trained to submit pireps to flight service stations," Landsberg said. In a recent message sent to the participants, he asked the pilots to submit the cumulative report at least once a month .

"We can take that information and watch the entire system in operation from total reports filed to how many made it through the NWS and FSS system," Landsberg said.

The entertaining and informative SkySpotter TM interactive-training Web site is designed to help pilots prepare and deliver high-quality, en route weather reports. The eyewitness information complements forecasted conditions and, when relayed by a flight service specialist, can be used by a pilot to avoid bad conditions.

"Lousy flying weather isn't just clouds. It includes headwinds, turbulence, icing, and the like," Landsberg said. "A 40-knot headwind is manageable in a Cessna 310, but it would be hard for a Cessna 150 to overcome. Pilot reports spread the word to others."

Pilots tell an FSS by phone or radio contact that "this is a SkySpotter TM Pilot Report," or they can make sure the letter grouping "AWC" is in the remarks section. The statement and/or abbreviation alerts the Aviation Weather Center that it's a specific SkySpotter report.

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation was founded in 1950 to promote general aviation safety through research and education. Since its establishment, the total general aviation accident rate has fallen from 46.6 per 100,000 flight hours to just 7.05 per 100,000 flight hours.

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