FAA has issued drafts of new editions of AC 00-45H Aviation Weather Services and AC 00-6B Aviation Weather. (AOPA has background here; you can download PDFs of the draft ACs here [scroll to the bottom of the list]).
In the introduction to the draft of Aviation Weather Services, the FAA notes that:
In the past decade, access to aviation weather products has greatly improved with the increase of flight planning services and weather Web sites. The experience of listening to a weather briefing over a phone while trying to write down pertinent weather information becomes less tolerable when the reports are easily obtainable on a home computer, tablet computer, or even a smart phone. To see weather along your route using a graphic of plotted weather reports combined with radar and satellite is preferable to trying to mentally visualize a picture from verbalized reports.
Although most of the traditional weather products, which rolled off the teletype and facsimile machines decades ago, are still available, some are being phased out by the National Weather Service (NWS) in favor of new, Web-based weather information.
It is the objective of AC 00-45H to bring the pilot and operator up to date on new and evolving weather information and capabilities to help plan a safe and efficient flight, while also describing the traditional weather products that remain.
Online aviation weather information is easy to access, and so are references explaining the information. That is why AC 00-45H contains fewer illustrations and less detail for products available online. This AC will give an overview and direct the pilot where to find more weather information and explanatory details…
One of the major forthcoming changes is the elimination of most area forecasts (FA).
Here’s part of what Appendix E from the draft AC 00-45H says about FAs:
The FA contains weather information in a format originally developed in the 1950s. By design, it carries a character count limitation and is prohibited from describing instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions over the CONUS and Hawaii (reserved for Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) and significant meteorological information (SIGMET)).
While the FA met aviation weather information needs for many years, today the National Weather Service (NWS) provides equivalent information through a number of better alternatives. Plans are to discontinue the six FAs covering the CONUS and one FA covering Hawaii, which will then be replaced by digital and graphical products produced by the NWS. No near-term changes are planned for the FAs for Alaska, the Caribbean, or the Gulf of Mexico.
These weather forecast products (described elsewhere in this document), to be consulted in lieu of the FA, together provide information similar to that found in the FA. The information often is in greater resolution and with the added benefit of graphical depiction. They include:
- Significant weather (SIGWX) charts (see subparagraph 5.16),
- Aviation forecast discussions (see subparagraph 5.19.1),
- Terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAF) (see subparagraph 5.10),
- AIRMETs (see subparagraph 5.2),
- National digital forecast databases (see subparagraph 5.19.2),
- Cloud top height forecast graphics (see subparagraph 5.19.3), and
- Cloud layer products (see subparagraph 5.19.4).