Updated: Feb 15
Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service or HIWAS will be retired before the end of 2019 for the conterminous United States. Sure, not every pilot flies with some kind of weather service, but it's trending to become just as common as having a GPS in the cockpit. As an instructor, it's hard to continue to teach about a service that is so rarely used today. There are many more important things for pilots to remember.
In its prime, HIWAS was a great resource to find out about weather advisories without the need to call Air Traffic Control or Flight Service. According to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), "HIWAS is an automated, continuous broadcast of inflight weather advisories, provided by FSS over select VOR outlets, which include the following weather products: AWW, SIGMET, Convective SIGMET, CWA, AIRMET (text [WA] or graphical [G-AIRMET] products), and urgent PIREP." But it's still a text-to-voice service that was not as good as having an iPad and a datalink receiver with a service such as SiriusXM where you could visually see the advisory that was being broadcast over HIWAS. As the old adage states, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Even to find a VOR that broadcast HIWAS was a bit cryptic. Dust off your aviation text and remember that it was that little H in the upper right corner of the VOR block that told you HIWAS was broadcast over the VOR frequency, in this case the Charleston VOR at 113.5 MHz. Although it served a purpose many years ago, it's time for this service to finally be laid to rest.
Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise™
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt
Weather Systems Engineer
CFI & former NWS meteorologist