On Oct. 10, the transition to graphical forecasts for aviation (GFAs) for the continental U.S. is set to be complete as traditional textual area forecasts (FAs) will be discontinued.
The move, in a transition phase since July, will enable National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center forecasters to focus their efforts on maximizing operational benefit to airspace users, resulting in improved weather information to decision-makers, FAA officials explained in a notice highlighting the change.
“The majority of the weather elements contained in the FA are already available through other NWS products,” the agency noted. “To maintain continuity of service, the GFA will ensure the availability of equivalent information, in addition to adding graphical displays of the predominant weather, sky cover, and wind speed and direction.”
GFAs are web-based displays that provide observations and forecasts of weather phenomena critical for aviation safety. GFAs cover the continental U.S., from the surface up to 42,000 feet mean sea level (MSL). Wind, icing, and turbulence forecasts are available in 3,000-foot increments from the surface up to 18,000 feet MSL, and in 6,000-foot increments from 18,000 feet MSL to 42,000 feet MSL. Turbulence forecasts are also broken into low (below 18,000 feet MSL) and high (above 18,000 feet MSL) graphics.
Maximum icing and maximum wind velocity graphics are also available. Data is time-synchronized and is available in hourly increments for up to 14 hours in the past and 15 hours into the future.
“This is a huge step forward,” says John Kosak, NBAA Air Traffic Services project manager for weather. “The graphical forecasts provide much finer resolution than any text-based forecast ever could.” Kosak has been representing business aviation as a member of the FAA’s Collaborative Decision-
Making Weather Eval-ua—tion Team.
The GFAs will replace the textual FAs only for the continental U.S. The FA for Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean will not change.