Thanks in part to the efforts of AOPA, the FAA now formally recognizes the Internet as an "official" way to access aviation weather and notams. The FAA has issued its Internet Communications Advisory Circular (AC) that explains how vendors may become a Qualified Internet Communication Provider (QICP) and disseminate information to pilots via the Internet. The agency will provide a public listing of all QICPs on a designated Web page.
That means GA pilots may legally use flight information from the numerous aviation Web sites available to plan a flight, as long as the Web site has gone through the QICP process. Until now, only information from a flight service center or DUATS was considered valid.
Although weather and notams have been available via the Internet for quite some time, both quality control and guidance to pilots has been lacking. This AC provides the foundation for the transition to a Web-based distribution of notams. AOPA successfully lobbied Congress for the money so the FAA could put notams on a Web server.
"The inadequacies of the current notam system clearly illustrate the need for improved information dissemination to the pilot community," remarked Melissa Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic, regulatory, and certification policy. "AOPA's Web site and our special ePilot alerts have demonstrated how the Internet can be used to provide pilots information in an easy-to-understand form."
In 2000, AOPA participated in an FAA workgroup assembled to develop a draft Internet policy for FAA. That task force report served as the foundation for this circular.