The new weather products to become available via FIS-B in 2017 include information on lightning strikes, cloud tops, icing (current and forecast), and turbulence. The FAA is also studying uplinking one-minute automated weather observation station (AWOS) observations or center weather advisory (CWA) and graphical airmet (G-Airmet) products.
Starting this September, the FAA will limit notams uplinked by FIS-B to notam-D and notam-FDC products that generally have an effective or issuance date less than 30 days in the past. However notams advising of temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) will continue to be transmitted. The change is expected to reduce the number of notams transmitted to aircraft by about 20 percent.
“The reduction had been planned for some time and is just now being implemented. The reduction results from bandwidth concerns as other products are being implemented, as well as the growing number of notams,” Duke said. “Many vendors, including ForeFlight, have options for pilots to load applicable notams older than 30 days prior to flight. AOPA encourages pilots to check their app or avionics regarding how the ‘pack’ function that provides the data can be employed.”
FIS-B uses ground stations to transmit no-fee weather, TFRs, and other data over the Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) datalink frequency. FIS-B, which is considered an advisory service, also provides surface weather observations and terminal forecasts; Nexrad precipitation maps; airmets, sigmets, and convective sigmets; winds and temperatures aloft; pilot reports; and status of special-use airspace.
According to a recent AOPA survey, 82 percent of AOPA members in the coterminous United States frequently or always use an electronic flight bag in the cockpit. In Alaska the figure is 75 percent.
When receiving information via FIS-B, pilots are reminded to consider latency-of-information issues that can average about 20 minutes for Nexrad imagery.