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The FAA Is Rolling Out 5 Major Weather Forecast Improvements In June

Using ADS-B for free in-flight weather updates is a life saver, and it's about to get a whole lot better, starting in June. Here's are the new additions...

But First...What Is ADS-B?

ADS-B has made a profoundly positive impact on flying in the past several years. And one of those impacts is your ability to get weather reports and forecasts directly on your flight displays and tablet while you're in-flight, no matter how far you are from the field. The free weather and advisory service is connected through a 978 MHz ADS-B transceiver installed on your airplane.

Using ADS-B, you can pick up in-flight NEXRAD Radar imagery, METARs/TAFs, Winds Aloft, PIREPs, AIRMETs/SIGMETs, TFRs, NOTAMs, and even traffic alerts for other ADS-B equipped aircraft.

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NEW ADDITION: Lightning Strikes

In June, the FAA will begin broadcasting lightning strikes to users. What you used to access through ForeFlight on the ground with an internet connection will now be available to you mid-flight. Analyzing lightning strikes will be a great way to check where the worst convective activity is.

See a lightning strike ahead? Don't fly there!

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NEW ADDITION: Turbulence

Turbulence reports divided by flight level or altitude will also be in the June release. If you run into turbulence this summer, you'll now have a way to get updated charts. Find that smooth air!

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NEW ADDITION: Icing Forecasts

No matter how much pre-flight planning you do, it's easy to miss something during your weather briefing. If you begin picking up unexpected ice, you can use the icing forecast charts to see new trends in icing locations.

This new tool will be especially helpful for longer flights, where icing forecasts could change dramatically just a few hours after takeoff.

NEW ADDITION: Cloud Tops

It's not always easy to judge how high the clouds are around you. Once the FAA begins transmitting cloud tops, you'll have a quick tool to judge how high you need to go to get on top of the clouds.

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NEW ADDITION: Center Weather Advisories (CWAs)

According to the Aviation Weather Center, "the CWA is an aviation weather warning for conditions meeting or approaching national in-flight advisory (AIRMET, SIGMET or SIGMET for convection) criteria. The CWA is primarily used by air crews to anticipate and avoid adverse weather conditions in the en-route and terminal environments."

"CWAs are valid for up to two (2) hours and may include forecasts of conditions expected to begin within two (2) hours of issuance. If conditions are expected to persist after the advisory's valid period, a statement to that effect should be included in the last line of the text."

Picking up CWAs mid-flight could be extremely helpful. Their information is relatively short term, so what you brief on the ground may not apply a few hours later during a flight. They're updated often, so using them as a reference will be especially helpful mid-flight.

We're Excited, Are You?

These are big improvements to the ADS-B system, and it's good news for pilots with and ADS-B, who will be able to access even more information in-flight. Situational awareness can increase dramatically with technological improvements, and this rollout is a perfect example.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and commercial pilot for Mokulele Airlines. In addition to multi-engine and instrument ratings, he holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525). He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018. He's the author of the articles, quizzes and lists you love to read every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures at http://www.swaynemartin.com.

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