Connectivity, technology streamline flight service briefings

Quicker updates to speed pilots on their way

Imagine a world where you can request an initial briefing from Leidos Flight Service and then—prior to takeoff—receive an update briefing with the latest flight conditions without duplicating all of the data you already have. The option is now available, provided Leidos has your primary phone number and other pertinent pilot information.

Starting in May, specialists can view an actual update briefing and provide pilots with exactly what information has changed since their last standard weather briefing was obtained using—either with a specialist or with a commercial provider—without repeating unnecessary information.

Since the activity is linked to your account, the change also permits the system to perform a variety of simple actions, provided you call from a uniquely identifiable phone number (which is likely your mobile phone) registered to your pilot profile. The system can recognize you, learn what data you already have, and take additional action based on that information.

If the phone system is unable to locate your phone number, or if it’s listed with multiple profiles, the service will provide you with the opportunity to enter a unique number for your pilot profile. It’s a good idea to check your Leidos account settings to confirm your primary phone number, your email address, the aircraft you most frequently fly, your street address, and your emergency contact information.

Also starting in May, pilots may opt out of some required statements that are part of a briefing. Opting out of these statements via your pilot profile menu lets the specialist know that you are familiar with—and aware of—the requirements, and they will not be required to provide them during your next call. This could be helpful to pilots already familiar with certain required statements.

A variety of weather condition shortcuts that can assist pilots have been available through a text message service for about a year. Pilots on the go can also send a text message to 358-782 (FLTSVC) to receive METARs and TAFs on their smartphones. Additional phone system capabilities will be rolled out as they become available.

Over the past several years, more and more pilots have migrated to mobile applications and online resources to receive regulatory compliant briefings, and they are relying less on human-in-the-loop interaction except in rare situations. AOPA, Leidos, and the FAA recognize this shift and will continue working together to update guidance on self-briefing without the need to contact a Flight Service specialist.

Leidos Flight Services briefers, under contract with the FAA, perform operations in Ashburn, Virginia. Photo courtesy of Jay Townsend, Leidos Flight Service.
David Tulis

David Tulis

Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: Advocacy, Pilot Weather Briefing Services

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