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NOUS41 KWBC 251714

Service Change Notice 17-89
National Weather Service Headquarters Silver Spring MD
114 PM EDT Tue Jul 25 2017

To: Subscribers:
 -NOAA Weather Wire Service
 -Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Offices
 Other NWS and NOS Partners and NOAA Employees

From: William Bauman
 Chief, Aviation and Space Weather Services Branch

Subject: Termination of CONUS Aviation Area Forecast Effective
 October 10, 2017

Effective on October 10, 2017, the NWS will cease production of
the Area Forecasts (FA) issued by the Aviation Weather Center
(AWC) covering the Contiguous United States (CONUS). The six (6)
FAs affected are:


The NWS and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), have
coordinated to transition six (6) FAs, currently used as flight
planning and pilot weather briefing aids, to digital and
graphical alternatives. A joint-Agency working group concluded
that these digital and graphical alternatives better-meet the
needs of today`s aviation users.

The change was considered over a period of nearly four years,
with significant subject-matter analysis and feedback from both
Agencies, as well as industry, and with multiple safety risk
assessments completed. Guidance with respect to the proper use of
the alternatives is available through standard FAA and NWS
documentation, with changes to corresponding FAA Orders and NWS
Directives following normal update cycles and expected to be
completed by the end of CY 2017.

NOTE: FAs for Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of
Mexico remain unaffected at this time. Any potential changes to
FAs outside of the CONUS will be communicated separately.

The FAA and NWS agreed upon the 10 July 2017 transition date, to
be followed by a period of three (3) months parallel product
availability, where legacy text CONUS FAs will continue to be
made available in order to ensure a smooth transition.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: United States Code directs the
Administrator of the FAA to make recommendations to the Secretary
of Commerce on providing meteorological services necessary for
the safe and efficient movement of aircraft. The Secretary, in
turn, is directed to cooperate with the Administrator and give
complete consideration to any recommendations. As such, FAA has
coordinated extensively with the NWS to review current and future
aviation weather information requirements.

The FA is an abbreviated, plain-language forecast of specified
weather phenomena, covering a geographical area designated by the
FAA. The FA is used to determine en-route weather and to estimate
conditions at airports without a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast

The FA contains weather information in a format originally
developed in the 1930s.  By design, it carries a character-count
limitation and was prohibited from describing Instrument Flight
Rule (IFR) conditions (reserved for AIRMETs and SIGMETs). Each FA
covers an extremely large geographical area (typically, several
states) and is issued 3x daily (each valid for 18hrs).

These specifications tend to produce a broad forecast of limited
value to the aviation end-user. While the FA met aviation weather
information needs for many years, NWS now provides equivalent
information through a number of significantly better

Given these limitations, the FAA-NWS joint-agency working group
recommended that the FA be transitioned to more-modern digital
and graphical forecasts and observations already providing
improved weather information to aviation decision-makers.

FAA formally recommended that NWS transition six (6) FAs covering
separate geographical areas of CONUS on 30 April 2015.Since
then, both Agencies have been working actively to implement the

NOTE: FAs for Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean and the Gulf of
Mexico will remain unaffected at this time.

Existing alternative products identified by the joint-agency
working group include, but are not limited to:

- surface weather analyses and prognostic charts
- public forecast discussions
- Significant Weather (SIGWX) charts
- National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD)
- Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs)
- Airmen`s Meteorological Information (AIRMETs)

Aviation end-users are already accustomed to consulting many of
the weather products listed above, during normal flight planning.
Together, they provide information similar to that found in the
FA, in higher resolution and with the added benefit of graphical

To simplify access to the above aviation weather products and
information, and to ensure a smooth transition for pilots and
other end-users, NWS has developed a web tool that centralizes
all weather information needed to replace the legacy FA. This web
tool, called the Graphical Forecasts for Aviation (GFA) tool, is
available at To ensure
access to the information for limited communication bandwidth
locations, the NWS also implemented the Aviation Surface and
Clouds Forecasts (i.e., GFA Static Graphics) available on
NOAAPORT and the website.

The joint-agency working group`s membership included broad
subject-matter expertise from both FAA and NWS, as well as the
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Members also
collected insight and formal comment(s) from additional aviation
weather stakeholders including pilot organizations, weather
briefers, airlines and air traffic controllers.

Multiple Safety Risk Assessments were completed as part of FAA`s
Safety Management System. Guidance with respect to the proper use
of the alternative products is available.

For technical questions regarding this notice, please contact:

Debra Blondin
Domestic Operations Branch Chief
Aviation Weather Center
Kansas City, MO 64153

For policy questions regarding this notice, please contact:

Kevin Stone
National Weather Service Headquarters
Silver Spring, MD

National Weather Service Change Notices are online at: is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.