How to Read PIREPS (Pilot Reports)

We’ve covered how to read METAR’s and understanding TAF’s but PIREPS are one area that seem to get neglected.

Why are so many PIREPS neglected? Pilots sometimes fail to give them.

What is a PIREP?

PIREPS are pilot reports of actual weather conditions, they contain some of the best information you the pilot can obtain. No better info than from someone who’s been there done that!

How do I give a PIREP?

Giving a PIREP is easy call Flight Service in the air or on the ground. They’re more than happy to help and love receiving PIREPS. Yet reading a PIREP is slightly more difficult.

Reading a PIREP

Required data found in all PIREP’s are as follows:

UA or UUA used to identify the PIREP as routine (UA) or urgent (UUA).
/OV location of the PIREP
/TM time the PIREP was received from the pilot
/FL flight level or altitude above sea level at the time the PIREP is filed
/TP aircraft type

optional info to be reported and displayed:

/SK sky cover
/TA temperature
/WV wind velocity
/TB turbulance
/IC icing
/RM remarks

Example:

UA /OV YSP 090025 /TM 2120 /FL050 /TP BE99 /SK 020BKN040 110OVC /TA -14 /WV 030045 /TB MDT CAT 060-080 /IC LGT RIME 020-040 /RM LGT FZRA INC

Which reads as:

This is a Routine Upper Air PIREP (thus the UA). The aircraft observation was 25 NM east of the Marathon, Ontario (YSP) VOR/DME (090 due east 025 miles) at 2120 UTC. The aircraft was at 5,000 ft (FL050) and is a Beech 99.(TP BE99) The clouds were broken at 2,000 ft AMSL with tops at 4,000 ft and an overcast layer at 11,000 ft AMSL. (the pilot must have climbed through the layer to know the tops) The temperature is -14 Celsius and the winds are from the NE at 45 knots. (030 @45) There is moderate clear air turbulence (MDT CAT) between 6,000 ft and 8,000 ft. There is light rime icing between 2,000 ft and 4,000 ft. (This would indicate that the icing is picked up in the cloud.) The remarks section says that light freezing rain was encountered in the cloud. (RM LGT FZRA)

Confused?

I’ll be honest, reading PIREPS is tough but is a skill all pilots need to learn. If you still have questions shoot me an e-mail I’d be more than happy to talk and help with any aspect of your flight training.

Remember a good pilot gives PIREPS (even if it’s a clear day) and is always learning!

Share This

Share this post with your friends!