CFI Practical Test Standards: Preflight Preparation
The Aviation Weather Handbook (FAA-H-8083-28) consolidates the weather information from the following advisory circulars (AC) into one source document. By doing this, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) intends to streamline access to the FAA's weather documentation for users of the National Airspace System (NAS). The following ACs will remain in effect, but they will eventually be cancelled at a later date following the publication of this handbook:
This handbook is designed as a technical reference for all who operate in the NAS. Pilots, dispatchers, and operators will find this handbook a valuable resource for flight planning and decision making.
This handbook conforms to pilot weather training and certification concepts established by the FAA. The discussion and explanations reflect the most commonly used weather products and information.
The guidance and recommendations in this handbook are not legally binding in their own right and will not be relied upon by the FAA as a separate basis for affirmative enforcement action or other administrative penalty. Conformity with the guidance and recommendations is voluntary only and nonconformity will not affect rights and obligations under existing statutes and regulations.
Part 1: Overview of the United States Aviation Weather Service Program and Information
Part 2: Weather Theory and Aviation Hazards
Part 3: Technical Details Relating to Weather Products and Aviation Weather Tools
FAA: Aviation Weather Handbook (with PDF download)
AOPA: "FAA Publishes 'Aviation Weather Handbook' (Jan. 18, 2023)
On Dec. 20, 2022, the FAA cancelled six weather-based Advisory Circulars and published the Aviation Weather Handbook (FAA-H-8083-28) to incorporate the content in a single publication. Since the Flight Instructor PTS has not been updated since June 2012, most copies reference two ACs relating to weather information. Pilots should consult the latest FAA publication.
Two of the cancelled Advisory Circulars — Aviation Weather and Aviation Weather Services — were substantial enough to be published as large-format books, which caused many (or most) pilots to believe that they were in fact FAA handbooks and not ACs.
The material covered in the six expired ACs also is available in the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, but in less detail.
Flight Instructor candidates preparing for the oral exam will get the most benefit from Part Three of the Aviation Weather Handbook, "Technical Details Relating to Weather Products and Aviation Weather Tools," which aligns with subject-matter found in Part II: Task B of the PTS. This includes:
Note that the task emphasizes "scenario-based training," as well as making a "go/no-go" decision. CFI candidates should expect questions that will go beyond obtaining weather information. They will be expected to use the weather information to support the instruction of Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM).
The only specific weather phenomenon mentioned in Task B is wind shear, so this will require some review before the oral exam.
The key item from the regulations is 14 CFR 91:
§ 91.103 Preflight action
Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. This information must include: (a) For a flight under IFR or a flight not in the vicinity of an airport, weather reports and forecasts, fuel requirements, alternatives available if the planned flight cannot be completed, and any known traffic delays of which the pilot in command has been advised by ATC
(b) For any flight, runway lengths at airports of intended use, and the following takeoff and landing distance information.
Two online resources that will meet the requirements of this section of the oral exam are the Aviation Weather Center (AviationWeather.gov) and 1-800-WXBrief (1800WXBrief.com). CFI candidates should use these online products to demonstrate how they would teach a student how to access and interpret observations, forecasts, and charts.
Aviation Weather Center
The Aviation Weather Center (AWC) contributes to a pilot's overall awareness of weather patterns. It's extremely unlikely that a Designated Examiner would not accept it as a primary resource for gathering the weather information outlined in this PTS task.
CFI candidates should create a free AWC account, and they should demonstrate how they would instruct students to create their own accounts, if they would like one. At this time, the only benefit of AWC user accounts is the ability to customize the site's main navigation (but a newer version of AWC, currently in beta, may offer more options to users.)
Students should be taken directly to the AWC Standard Briefing page — which they should consider the site's actual home page. On the Brief page, they will find direct links to the most relevant weather-information products. This includes:
Note that two resources are linked on the AWC Standard Briefing page, but these are on external websites:
Also linked on the AWC Standard Briefing page are:
Note the disclaimer at the top of the AWC Standard Briefing page:
Prior to every flight, pilots should gather all information vital to the nature of the flight. This site is informational in nature and is designed to assist pilots and aircrews for flight planning and weather familiarization. It may be used in conjunction with other preflight information sources needed to satisfy all the requirements of 14 CFR 91.103 and is not to be considered as a sole source of information to meet all preflight action. Pilots can complete their regulatory-compliant preflight briefing by using other automated resources or from Flight Service at www.1800wxbrief.com or by calling 1-800-WX- BRIEF.
CFI candidates should be fully aware of this disclaimer's presence and meaning. Reading the Aviation Weather Center website may not be the "sole source of information" to be in compliance with 91.103.
Also note that the AWC offers a clear handoff to 1-800-WXBrief, either by website for telephone.
Flight Service at 1800WXBrief.com (Leidos) offers weather briefings specific to the pilot's proposed flight plan. It also includes links to weather information.
Order of Weather Information
CFI candidates likely will be asked how they would instruct a student to begin gathering weather information. Many years ago, the common answer was "Start with that day's weather report on the television or radio." However, broadcast media are not as dominant in our daily lives as they once were.
Suggesting that students start on the AWC Standard Briefing page and read down the list is one option. The page begins with "Adverse Conditions" that potentially would preclude a flight, followed by "Synopsis" resources, and then "Current Conditions," "En Route Forecast," "Destination Forecast," "Wind and Temps Aloft," and then "NOTAMs" and "ATC delays."
That said, a detail in the NOTAMs or destination forecast could cancel a flight just as easily as a SIGMET, so it's not as if the information becomes less critical or less relevant to the flight as the user reads down the page.
Another approach would be to guide the student to the "Forecast Discussion" (FDISC) page (here) to get the general synopsis of the weather in all relevant regions. It's also important to note that the AWC only publishes extracts from longer discussion documents found at the National Weather Service website (www.nws.gov). A good practice would be for a student to read all relevant Forecast Discussions before leaving home.
The next critical item would be TAFs, since these provides specific weather forecasts, updated every six hours, at every terminal with the TAF service. TAFs should be consulted along the route of flight, not just at the departure and destination airports.
METARs would be worth a look, but they would have limited value at locations where the flight is not expected to be within the next hour or so. That said, if an airport is socked in and the TAF says it will clear later, pilots will want to note that the METAR is an accurate observation, while the TAF is an educated guess. Fog doesn't always clear on schedule.
From there, each relevant resource should be consulted. Users of the AWC site will want to pay attention to the keys at the bottom of each map to decode the information, as well as various tools and navigation items that will expand the map's functions.
Weather information should be recorded in a format that's meaningful to the pilot (this can follow a template or be of their own design) and easily kept in a kneeboard for reference during the flight.
Practical Test Standards: Flight Instructor
III. Preflight Preparation
Task B: Weather Information
All ACs dealing with weather have been consolidated into a new handbook in order to streamline access to the FAA's weather documentation for users of the National Airspace System (NAS)
Objective: To determine that the applicant exhibits instructional knowledge of the elements related to weather information by describing:
Flight Instructor Test Questions
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Oral Exam Questions