Got Weather? This variation on the well-known milk marketing slogan is being used to remind general aviation pilots about the environmental challenges they potentially face each time they take off into the sky.
The campaign, which initially will run through December 2014, is a cooperative effort among the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and more than a dozen other general aviation stakeholders.
According to federal regulators, there are almost 190,000 general aviation (GA) pilots nationwide and more than 220,000 GA aircraft, ranging from turbojets and helicopters to hot-air balloons and experimental aircraft.
There were an estimated 259 fatal accidents involving general aviation aircraft in fiscal year 2013, with weather conditions a leading cause of fatal accidents over the past decade, the FAA reported. The “failure to recognize deteriorating weather continues to be a frequent case or contributing factor of accidents.”
“Weather does not discriminate between the seasoned or novice pilot,” Thomas L. Hendricks, chief executive officer of NATA, said in a May statement. “We should all refresh our weather safety knowledge and plan carefully to ensure successful flying this season.”
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) defines general aviation as civilian-related flying, with the exception of scheduled passenger carriers. It can include aviation companies that provide package delivery, sightseeing, air ambulance, crop spraying, and weather and traffic reporting.
Most general aviation typically involves lower-altitude flying without some of the sophisticated equipment available to commercial operators.
Each month of the Got Weather? campaign will highlight new topics, such as crosswinds, turbulence, icing and thunderstorms. Through the FAA website, general aviation pilots can access safety guides and checklists, preflight planning tips and primers on atmospheric conditions, as well as online courses, quizzes, case studies and safety seminars.
In a statement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said general aviation pilots “have an opportunity to make a real difference in improving safety … by being prepared, and fine tuning their pre-flight decision making skills.”