Preflight Briefing


  • Flight Service Stations (AFSSs/FSSs) are the primary source for obtaining preflight briefings and in-flight weather information
  • Flight Service Specialists are qualified and certificated by the NWS as Pilot Weather Briefers
  • They are not authorized to make original forecasts, but are authorized to translate and interpret available forecasts and reports directly into terms describing the weather conditions, which you can expect along your flight route and at your destination

Standard Briefing:

  • You should request a Standard Briefing any time you are planning a flight and you have not received a previous briefing or have not received preliminary information through mass dissemination media; e.g., TIBS and TWEB (Alaska only), etc.
  • International data may be inaccurate or incomplete
  • If you are planning a flight outside of U.S. controlled airspace, the briefer will advise you to check data as soon as practical after entering foreign airspace, unless you advise that you have the international cautionary advisory
  • The briefer will automatically provide the following information in the sequence listed except as noted, when it is applicable to your proposed flight
  • Adverse Conditions:

    • Significant meteorological and/or aeronautical information that might influence the pilot to alter or cancel the proposed flight
      • Example: hazardous weather conditions, airport closures, air traffic delays, etc.
    • Pilots should be especially alert for current or forecast weather that could reduce flight minimums below VFR or IFR conditions
    • Pilots should also be alert for any reported or forecast icing if the aircraft is not certified for operating in icing conditions
    • Flying into areas of icing or weather below minimums could have disastrous results
  • VFR Flight Not Recommended:

    • When VFR flight is proposed and sky conditions or visibilities are present or forecast, surface or aloft, that, in the briefer's judgment, would make flight under VFR doubtful, the briefer will describe the conditions, describe the affected locations, and use the phrase "VFR flight not recommended"
    • This recommendation is advisory in nature
    • The final decision as to whether the flight can be conducted safely rests solely with the pilot
    • Upon receiving a "VFR flight not recommended" statement, the non-IFR rated pilot will need to make a "go or no go" decision
    • This decision should be based on weighing the current and forecast weather conditions against the pilot's experience and ratings
    • The aircraft's equipment, capabilities, and limitations should also be considered
    • Pilots flying into areas of minimal VFR weather could encounter unforecasted lowering conditions that place the aircraft outside the pilot's ratings and experience level
      • This could result in spatial disorientation and/or loss of control of the aircraft
  • Synopsis:

    • A brief statement describing the type, location, and movement of weather systems and/or air masses which might affect the proposed flight
      • These first 3 elements of a briefing may be combined in any order when the briefer believes it will help to more clearly describe conditions
  • Current Conditions:

    • Reported weather conditions applicable to the flight will be summarized from all available sources; e.g., METARs/ SPECIs, PIREPs, RAREPs
    • This element will be omitted if the proposed time of departure is beyond 2 hours, unless the information is specifically requested by the pilot
  • En-Route Forecast:

    • Forecast en-route conditions for the proposed route are summarized in logical order; i.e., departure/climb-out, en-route, and descent (Heights are MSL, unless the contractions "AGL" or "CIG" are denoted indicating that heights are above ground)
  • Destination Forecast:

    • The destination forecast for the planned ETA
    • Any significant changes within 1 hour before and after the planned arrival are included
  • Winds Aloft:

    • Forecast winds aloft will be provided using degrees of the compass
    • The briefer will interpolate wind directions and speeds between levels and stations as necessary to provide expected conditions at planned altitudes (heights are in MSL)
    • Temperature information will be provided on request
  • Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs):

    • Available NOTAM (D) information pertinent to the proposed flight, including special use airspace (SUA) NOTAMs for restricted areas, aerial refueling, and night vision goggles (NVG)
    • Prohibited Areas P-40, P-49, P-56, and the special flight rules area (SFRA) for Washington, DC
    • FSS briefers do not provide FDC NOTAM information for special instrument approach procedures, unless specifically asked
      • Pilots authorized by the FAA to use special instrument approach procedures must specifically request FDC NOTAM information for these procedures
      • NOTAM information may be combined with current conditions when the briefer believes it is logical to do so
      • Airway NOTAMs, procedural NOTAMs that are general in nature and not tied to a specific airport/facility (for example, flight advisories and restrictions, open during special security instructions, and special flight rules areas) are briefed solely by pilot request. NOTAMs, graphic notices, and other information published in the NTAP are not included in pilot briefings unless the pilot specifically requests a review of this publication.
        • For complete flight information, pilots are urged to review the printed NOTAMs in the Notices to Airmen Publication and the Chart Supplement U.S. in addition to obtaining a briefing
  • ATC Delays:

  • Pilots may obtain the following from flight service station briefers upon request:
    • Information on SUA and SUA-related airspace, except those listed in paragraph 7-1-5b8
      • For the purpose of this paragraph, SUA and related airspace includes the following types of airspace: alert area, military operations area (MOA), warning area, and air traffic control assigned airspace (ATCAA). MTR data includes the following types of airspace: IFR training routes (IR), VFR training routes (VR), and slow training routes (SR)
      • Pilots are encouraged to request updated information from ATC facilities while in flight
    • A review of airway OTAMs, procedural NOTAMs, and NOTAMs that are general in nature are not tied to a specific airport/facility (for example, flight advisories and restrictions, open duration special security instructions, and special flight rules areas), graphic notices, and other information published in the NTAP
    • Approximate density altitude data
    • Information regarding such items as air traffic services and rules, customs/immigration procedures, ADIZ rules, search and rescue, etc.
    • GPS RAIM availability for 1 hour before to 1 hour after ETA or a time specified by the pilot
    • Other assistance as required

Abbreviated Briefing:

  • Request an Abbreviated Briefing when you need information to supplement mass disseminated data, update a previous briefing, or when you need only one or two specific items
  • Provide the briefer with appropriate background information, the time you received the previous information, and/or the specific items needed
  • You should indicate the source of the information already received so that the briefer can limit the briefing to the information that you have not received, and/or appreciable changes in meteorological/aeronautical conditions since your previous briefing
  • To the extent possible, the briefer will provide the information in the sequence shown for a Standard Briefing
  • If you request only one or two specific items, the briefer will advise you if adverse conditions are present or forecast (Adverse conditions contain both meteorological and/or aeronautical information)
  • Details on these conditions will be provided at your request
  • International data may be inaccurate or incomplete
  • If you are planning a flight outside of U.S. controlled airspace, the briefer will advise you to check data as soon as practical after entering foreign airspace, unless you advise that you have the international cautionary advisory

Outlook Briefing:

  • You should request an Outlook Briefing whenever your proposed time of departure is six or more hours from the time of the briefing
  • The briefer will provide available forecast data applicable to the proposed flight
  • This type of briefing is provided for planning purposes only
  • You should obtain a Standard or Abbreviated Briefing prior to departure in order to obtain such items as adverse conditions, current conditions, updated forecasts, winds aloft, and NOTAMs, etc.

InFlight Briefing:

  • You are encouraged to obtain your preflight briefing by telephone or in person before departure
  • In those cases where you need to obtain a preflight briefing or an update to a previous briefing by radio, you should contact the nearest FSS to obtain this information
  • After communications have been established, advise the specialist of the type briefing you require and provide appropriate background information
  • You will be provided information as specified in the above paragraphs, depending on the type of briefing requested
  • En Route advisories tailored to the phase of flight that begins after climb-out and ends with descent to land are provided upon pilot request
  • Pilots are encouraged to provide a continuous exchange of information on weather, winds, turbulence, flight visibility, icing, etc., between pilots and inflight specialists
  • Pilots should report good weather as well as bad, and confirm expected conditions as well as unexpected
  • Remember that weather conditions can change rapidly and that a "go or no go" decision, as mentioned in paragraph 7-1-4b2, should be assessed at all phases of flight


  • Available aviation weather reports, forecasts, and aviation weather charts are displayed at each FSS, for pilot use
  • Pilots should feel free to use these self briefing displays where available, or to ask for a briefing or assistance from the specialist on duty
  • Following any briefing, feel free to ask for any information that you or the briefer may have missed or are not understood
  • This way, the briefer is able to present the information in a logical sequence, and lessens the chance of important items being overlooked
  • When filing a flight plan only, you will be asked if you require the latest information on adverse conditions pertinent to the route of flight
  • Additional resources, which do not meet the requirements for a pre-flight weather brief, such as NOAA's Standard Briefing are available