Updated: Nov 5, 2021
There's no doubt that many pilots do their primary preflight weather briefing using one of the many popular electronic flight bag (EFB) apps such as Garmin Pilot and/or make use of various websites such as windy.com or aviationweather.gov. Or perhaps, you feel there's still a need to call 1-800-WXBRIEF to get a hasty weather briefing. Over the last decade, the FAA has been increasingly willing to allow pilots to self brief to the extent possible. In fact, in the latest version (issued November 14, 2016) of the Aviation Weather Services, AC 00-45H Change 2, the FAA states in the circular's prologue,
"In the past decade, access to aviation weather products has greatly improved with the increase of flight planning services and weather websites. 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."
And this is further amplified by this opinion letter from the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel which states,
When it comes to achieving a good preflight briefing pilots are faced with a significant challenge, especially when the weather is not expected to be "severe clear." Whether they use their favorite EFB, favorite website or make a call to Flight Service, the delivery method of these services is exactly the same. That is, the "age old method" is to inundate the pilot with all sorts of disjointed weather guidance with the hope the pilot can just "figure it all out" given enough time. This leaves the pilot with learning how to extract and decode the pertinent information for their proposed route from dozens of charts, diagrams and thousands of characters of text to find a departure time that meets all of their personal weather minimums. Moreover, is the pilot's process repeatable such that each and every briefing uses the same ironclad method? And does it incorporate personal weather minimums to assess your personal risk? Not likely.
Think of it this way. Imagine you want to build a new house and the contractor brought all of the materials to build that house and neatly stacked it on the foundation. They walk away and say, "here's your new home...enjoy." All they have done is provided the raw materials and have not built anything for you. That's the way most EFBs "construct" their weather briefing. Sure, there are copious amounts of data to consume, but it's often very incoherent leaving the user to do the real construction. And many scientific studies have shown that pilots have a lot of difficulty consuming weather guidance in this way.
This is where EZWxBrief truly excels. While you definitely want to focus on the big weather picture to make a final decision, EZWxBrief not only provides all of the useful guidance mentioned above, but it also is designed to take your personal weather minimums for ceiling height, surface visibility, crosswind, icing, turbulence and convection and evaluate weather along the proposed route for all possible departure times over the next two to three days in order to determine what departure times meet all of those personal weather minimums. Once EZWxBrief presents those optimal departure times to you in the EZDeparture Advisor (as shown above), it becomes a simple task to use the EZImagery and EZMap to give you the green light that the departure time chosen is good to go.
Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise™
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt
Weather Systems Engineer
CFI & former NWS meteorologist