Is there a technique anyone has to make it easier to give PIREPs (mnemonics, etc?) I'd like to be able to give them while I fly but I can never find the expected format handy, so it ends up being a hassle. If there's a trick anyone has to make it easy to give one, please share!

  • Who you are:
    Cherokee 1234A, a P28A
  • Where you are:
    10 miles north of La Belle VOR, altitude 6000 feet
  • Build your own "METAR":
    Five minutes ago (time) wind aloft 230 @ 24 (wind) imc (visibility) medium turbulence (weather phenomena) broken clouds at my altitude, clear below (cloud cover) temperature 10 degrees (temperature)

That's it!
There might be a way to exactly meet the form the controller needs to write it down, but this works fine and you have a fluent and well structured report.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 for "Build your own METAR" - I never thought of doing it that way! This isn't exactly the order the information gets entered in, but it's a format Flight Watch / Flight Service / ATC will be familiar with and there's a good chance they'll be able to parse it quickly - worst case they may ask you to repeat a couple of the items. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jan 10 '14 at 16:21

PIREPs have no required format other than the identifying information: Location, Time, Altitude, and Aircraft Type. Other than that, you can call in any number of weather elements as a PIREP. I often call in nothing but winds aloft and temperature, simply because I know those are more difficult for the weather service to measure.

AOPA SkySpotter provides a nice flash card for recalling the various items, but there's no mnemonic provided. If you're interested in giving the most complete PIREP possible, I'd suggest following the same format as an ATIS broadcast: wind, visibility, clouds, precip, and then touching on any other relevant information such as temperature or turbulence.

All in all, though, the most important thing about PIREPs is that you give them. The briefer or controller who takes your report will be able to format it properly if you give the elements out of order...they're just happy to get it at all.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'll echo that the most important thing about PIREPS is that you give them (especially for winds / icing / turbulence differing from the forecast - that stuff can make it into the next pilot's briefing and save someone a lot of grief!). If you give them in the order on the SkySpotter form it's nice for the person punching it in because that's the order they're used to seeing it in, but they can generally sort things out and will ask you for missing information if they think it's important. $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Dec 31 '13 at 6:44
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    $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 With all of the automated wind collection (real time doppler and automatically reporting airliners), wind pireps aren't really all that important anymore. The other information is though! $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 1 '14 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ The skyspotter card is great, just keep it in your kneeboard our somewhere handy until you need it! $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 1 '14 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @lnafziger more than once I've had winds significantly different from forecast (like "the winds are 180 degrees off from what the briefer said") which is something worth reporting. Generally you're right though: the winds are pretty accurate & I just say "winds as forecast" $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Jan 1 '14 at 17:38

The technique I have is to just call up ATC and ask if they've got time for "a quick PIREP". If I'm giving a PIREP I'm almost always either on flight following or IFR, in which case they already have my aircraft type; from there, I give a brief report with the items I want to provide. It usually looks something like this:

Cessna 321AB: Seattle Center, Cessna 321AB... I've got a PIREP for you if you have a moment.

ZSE: Cessna 1AB, go ahead.

Cessna 321AB: Ok... over CLM at 7500, five minutes ago, the winds aloft were 280 at 20, temperature 39, clear below.

ZSE: Cessna 1AB, got it. Thank you.

I never worry about order, and I've never gotten yelled at by ATC or Flight Service.

As an aside, if it's crazy windy aloft with lots of changes per altitude, I'll give ATC winds almost always. If there's icing conditions or below-freezing temps, I will always provide a PIREP. They don't get into the system often enough and if you treat it casually and provide just the relevant info for the day (if it's clear, don't tell them this) you're doing everybody a great service.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm under the impression you shouldn't call Center with PIREPS. I think it be better to call Seattle Radio on 122.6 in the vicinity of CLM? $\endgroup$ – abelenky Jan 6 '14 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ @abelenky generally when IFR it's better to stay on frequency. Seattle Center, particularly during cruise, often has more free time than Seattle Radio anyway. If you've got something from the AIM that recommends FSS as the one place to report pireps, I'm all ears! :) $\endgroup$ – egid Jan 6 '14 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ I guess the difference is that I'm VFR, and therefore rarely talk to Center except for Flight Following. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Jan 6 '14 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, seems reasonable. Honestly, in most cases ATC is pretty willing to help out, including jotting down PIREPs, unless they're slammed or having a bad day. $\endgroup$ – egid Jan 7 '14 at 3:11

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