Pilot Report Can Aid Fellow Pilots
April 1, 2022
The pilot report, or PIREP, is an often appreciated bit of information, but how often do you actually submit one? PIREPs are, generally, only useful in a given area and for a small amount of time.
Knowing this information, it is important to send them in often to aid your fellow pilots. It also helps ATC, meteorologists, accident investigators, and more.
The next time you find cloud layers or turbulence, or some lovely smooth air in an otherwise sea of turbulent sky, consider filing a PIREP. It's really simple. If you are talking to ATC already, I'd recommend giving it to them. This does require you to make judgement calls on how busy the controller is and the importance of your information.
Let's discuss. Controllers are generally fairly busy, even if not constantly talking on frequency, but you can use the amount of dead air to determine their busyness. Just remember to evaluate this based on how much the controller is talking, not how much pilot talking you hear as controllers often work multiple frequencies at the same time. You might be the only pilot on your frequency, but there are 15 pilots on another frequency for example. If you decide the controller isn't too busy, give them your PIREP. Most should accept the information and put it in the system. If you decide the controller seems quite busy, then we have to decide how important the information is. If it's about icing, it's pretty important. If it's about bad turbulence that could be hazardous to others, its important. If it's that the sky is clear and visibility is unrestricted, it's not very important for a busy controller.
If you decide you have information for a PIREP but ATC sounds too busy for the info you have to offer, or you aren't talking to ATC, there are other options. You can always call flight service and they will happily take your information and put it in the system. One thing to remember, and why I suggest giving important information directly to ATC, is that information given to only flight service will not be known to ATC due to how the information flows in the system. If you give the info to ATC, everyone will know. If you give the PIREP to flight service, everyone but ATC will know.
I am aware that you can submit your own PIREPs online directly to the aviation weather center if you make an account. I have also recently seen several apps that are for PIREPs. I have not used either of these methods, but I will be testing them to see how useful I find them for my flying.