The FAA has announced it is eliminating the Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS), a broadcast which as enabled pilots to access dangerous weather without going through a Flight Service specialist.
The agency proposed discontinuing the service in August last year and has now finished reviewing public comments about the suggestion. The elimination of the program will be effective on the 8th of January next year.
HIWAS was conceived some 40 years ago when there was a large demand for in-flight briefings from FSS specialists and wait times could be extremely long. With the advent of digital technology, the demand for HIWAS from FSSs has declined dramatically.
In addition, pilots no longer need to contact a Flight Service specialist to adhere to the pre-flight requirements of FAR 91.103 and to maintain awareness of hazardous weather advisories along their route of flight.
“Multiple sources are available that provide access to weather and aeronautical information to pilots in the cockpit, often presented in a graphical format, making it easier to visualize what is going on along the route of flight,” the agency said.
However, the NBAA said, “Internet-based graphics are often not available in the cockpit because many aircraft do not have Wi-Fi in the air. HIWAS, by contrast, is listened to over the [VOR] frequency and does not need the internet.”
The FAA received 27 comments on the proposal. Thirteen either supported the initiative or were neutral about the proposal, while three comments did not apply. A number of the remaining comments focused on the inability of pilots to obtain weather from alternate sources such as EFBs or other digital products.
In addition, the FAA said, “Air traffic controllers will continue to advise pilots of hazardous weather that may affect operations within 150 nautical miles of their sector or area of jurisdiction.”
A safety risk management panel was held on February 26 to address concerns raised by stakeholders. The panel consisted of representatives from the FAA and industry, including AOPA. The panel reviewed all comments and the participants were unanimous in their opinion that “removing the legacy service would not add any additional safety risks.”