8900.1 CHG 320



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Section 5  Use of Flight Information Services on the Flight Deck – Parts 91K, 121, and 135

3-2141    BACKGROUND. Flight Information Services (FIS) provides information and data for the purpose of giving advice and information useful for the safe and efficient conduct of flights. FIS applications include real-time and near real-time advisories and warnings which have a direct effect on flight safety as well as non-controlling advisory information needed by pilots to operate safely and efficiently. FIS pertinent to this section are aeronautical information (AI) such as Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) and meteorological information (MET).

A.    Data Link Service Providers (DLSP). DLSPs are government or commercial entities that deploy and maintain airborne, ground-based, and/or space-based infrastructure, which support the transmission of AI/MET over one or more physical links. DLSPs may also transmit information other than MET/AI over these links, and, therefore, may be multipurpose. The data link service may be free of charge or for-fee service that permits end users to uplink and downlink AI/MET and other information. For example, the introduction of high bandwidth Internet protocol (IP)-based wireless data link to the aviation sector enables frequent transmission of graphic intensive content.

B.    Examples of DLSP.

1)    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Information Service‑Broadcast (FIS-B). FAA FIS-B is a ground-based broadcast service provided through the Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) network. The service provides users with a 978 MHz data link capability when operating within range and line-of-sight of a transmitting ground station. FIS-B enables users of properly equipped aircraft to receive and display a suite of broadcast weather and AI products.
2)    Non-FAA FIS. Several commercial vendors provide customers with FIS data over both the aeronautical spectrum and on other frequencies using a variety of data link protocols. Services available from these providers vary greatly and may include tier based subscriptions. Advancements in bandwidth technology permits preflight as well as in-flight access to the same MET and AI available on the ground. Pilots and operators now routinely load their databases using such services. Pilots and operators using non-FAA FIS for MET and AI should be knowledgeable regarding the weather services being provided as some commercial vendors may be repackaging National Weather Service (NWS) sourced weather, while other commercial vendors may alter the weather information to produce vendor-tailored or vendor-specific weather reports and forecasts.

C.    Data Link Modes.

1)    General. Three data link modes are available for transmitting MET and AI to aircraft. The intended use of the AI and/or MET will determine the most appropriate data link service.
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2)    Broadcast Mode. A one-way interaction in which AI and/or MET updates or changes applicable to a designated geographic area are continuously transmitted (or transmitted at repeated periodic intervals) to all aircraft capable of receiving the broadcast within the service volume defined by the system network architecture.
3)    Contract/Demand Mode. A two-way interaction that involves the transmission of MET/AI to an aircraft in response to a specific request.
4)    Contract/Update Mode. A two-way interaction that is an extension of the contract/demand mode. An initial MET/AI report(s) is sent to an aircraft, and subsequent updates or changes to the AI and/or MET that meet the contract criteria are automatically or manually sent to an aircraft.

D.    Level of FIS. When establishing MET/AI Data Link Services, there needs to be a clear distinction between the information and the means to deliver the information. Characteristics describing the minimum requirements of the delivered data or information are different from those used to describe the delivery method. Data or information can be delivered over Category (CAT) 1 or CAT 2 services, as described below. The same data or information may be sent over either category, but the intended use of the data or information will drive the decision for which category of service is required.

1)    CAT 1 MET/AI Services. CAT 1 MET/AI services are a compilation of systems used as the primary means for communicating AI and MET services to and from aircraft to meet aviation regulatory requirements. Users may act on products and information delivered by CAT 1 services without any need for confirming its validity. Data so received may be exclusively relied on to support decisions.

NOTE:  CAT 1 MET/AI services are not authorized at this time.

2)    CAT 2 MET/AI Services. CAT 2 MET/AI services are a compilation of systems that can be useful for communications to and from aircraft (but must not be used as the only source of AI and MET to meet aviation regulatory requirements) on which to base operational decisions.

E.    MET Data Link Services. Pilots and aircraft dispatchers (part 121 domestic and flag operations) and persons authorized to exercise operational control (part 121 supplemental operations) use MET information to support in-flight decisions. These decisions are impacted by many factors including the flight environment and the time available for deliberation and action. Deliberation begins when information is made available to the pilot/flightcrew (and dispatcher or person authorized to exercise operational control for part 121 domestic, and flag or supplemental operations). The sooner the information is available, the better the chances are that the safest course of action is taken prior to the aircraft encountering adverse weather phenomena, or other operational constraints. Additionally, the age (known as latency) of MET establishes whether specific information is appropriate for use in any or all of the pilot decision classifications. Three classifications of pilot decisions are defined for use of MET.

1)    Data Link Weather Planning Decision Service (D-WPDS). D-WPDS provides MET, which supports pilot decisions, well in advance (i.e., 20 minutes or greater) of any potential encounter (strategic). This service is designed to provide MET to support pilot decisions for flight planning, and in-flight monitoring and/or re-planning with a lead time to decision of 20 minutes or longer. WPDS MET may consist of the entire range of MET useful for flight planning, in-flight monitoring, and/or re-planning. Examples include surface observations, gridded winds and temperatures aloft, pilot and automated aircraft reports, weather radar information, turbulence, in-flight icing, and volcanic ash. MET included in the WPDS may be provided by the broadcast or demand modes. Information received by the flight deck avionics or a portable display device may be stored and made available for later use by the pilot (or cockpit applications), or displayed directly in the flight deck.
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a)    Part 121 Requirements. For part 121 domestic and flag operations, the responsibility for flight planning and re-planning are responsibilities that are shared with an aircraft dispatcher (or persons authorized to exercise operational control for part 121 supplemental operations). In-flight monitoring is the responsibility of the aircraft dispatcher.
b)    Pilot Awareness. As a minimum, weather information from this service updates the pilot’s awareness of the future environment, including a probability assessment of that future. The information may indicate a need to monitor the situation more closely; the information may suggest to the pilot to be more aware of the need for possible decisions and further updates required later on during the departure, en route, or arrival phases of flight.
2)    Data Link Weather Near-Term Decision Service (D-WNDS). D-WNDS provides MET of phenomena that is closer (i.e., 3-20 minutes). This information can support pilots’ decisions to avoid any potential encounter (strategic or limited tactical). This service is designed to provide MET as support for near-term decisions with a lead time between 3 and 20 minutes, such as weather avoidance. The WNDS will focus upon MET suitable for near‑term deviations to avoid weather hazards. The information will consist primarily of hazardous weather advisories; surface observations; near real-time pilot or automated aircraft weather reports (including information from near-by, proximate aircraft, using weather crosslink); weather radar summaries, and derived hazard products. MET included in the WNDS may be provided by any of the broadcast or demand modes.
3)    Data Link Weather Immediate Decision Service (D-WIDS). D-WIDS provides MET, which supports pilot tactical decisions that require immediate attention (i.e., immediate to less than 3 minutes). This service is designed to provide MET to flightcrews to support immediate decisions, with a lead time of less than 3 minutes. This service provides information that may require immediate action by the pilot to avoid, exit, or mitigate a known hazard. WIDS information must be delivered to the pilot with high integrity, availability, and continuity in recognition of the importance to safety.
a)    Examples of such WIDS CAT MET-related information include changes in Runway Visual Range (RVR) and/or a wind-shear warning while on final approach. Wake vortex visualization is another immediate decision‑support application, in this case, one enabled by data crosslink between near-by, proximate aircraft. Decisions supported by WIDS typically will not permit deliberation or consultation; rather they require specific, rule-based actions by the pilot.
b)    Frequent updates of observational data, analyses, and forecasts ensure the timeliness of weather information. The use of event and/or periodic contract or broadcast transmission modes ensures high integrity and availability of such information upon delivery.
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NOTE:  In part 121 domestic and flag operations, Pilots in command (PIC) are required to coordinate decisions with an aircraft dispatcher. However, when immediate hazards are present, such as those reported by D-WIDS, a PIC may need to exercise his/her emergency authority and initiate action without coordination and concurrence from an aircraft dispatcher.

3-2142    USE OF AI AND MET BY CERTIFICATE HOLDERS AND PROGRAM MANAGERS. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 91 subpart K (91K), 121, and 135 – Certificate holder/program managers may integrate data link MET and AI into their respective Aviation Weather Information System, as specified in Volume 3, Chapter 26, Sections 2, 3, and 4. Certificate holders/program managers must ensure that the MET FIS information comes from an approved source of weather reports and forecasts as authorized or approved by the certificate holder/program manager in operations specification (OpSpec) A010, Aviation Weather Information.

A.    Part 121 Requirements.

1)    Domestic and Flag Operations. Certificate holders conducting part 121 domestic and flag operations must include the method by which the certificate holder’s pilots and dispatchers are using the same MET and AI for pre-flight planning and conducting of all flights. Additionally, availability of MET and AI in the cockpit does not fulfill the requirement of § 121.601, which requires aircraft dispatchers to provide the PIC with the most current available information before a flight departs and while a flight is en route.
2)    Supplemental Operations. In part 121 supplemental operations, the PIC and Director of Operations (DO) (or his or her delegate) have joint responsibility for initiation, continuation, diversion, and termination of a flight. A DO and/or his/her delegate is also responsible for monitoring each flight and being aware of any known hazards that might adversely affect the safety of a flight. Therefore, the DO or his/her delegate must have the same MET and AI available to support regulatory responsibility and decisionmaking.

B.    Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). An EFB is an acceptable means to view MET and AI in the cockpit. As this requires software and data connectivity, the EFB is classified as a Class 2 EFB using Type B software. This requires an authorization for use via FAA OpSpec/MSpec/LOA A061, Use of Electronic Flight Bag. Certificate holders/program managers using an EFB to display MET and AI to the cockpit should comply with the guidelines and guidance related to EFBs found in Volume 4, Chapter 15, Section 1, as well as the current editions of Advisory Circular (AC) 120-76, Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness, and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags;
AC 20-149, Safety and Interoperability Requirements for Initial Domestic Flight Information Service-Broadcast; and AC 20-173, Installation of Electronic Flight Bag Components.

C.    Broadcast Mode. Most broadcast FIS are labeled as “advisory only.” Pilots may not use these “advisory only” data-linked MET and A 1 products (CAT 2 MET/AI services) as a sole source for making tactical in-flight decisions regarding flight safety when avoiding adverse weather phenomena, airspace, or obstacle hazards (e.g., negotiating a path through a weather hazard area). Current data-linked MET and AI products may support strategic decision making (e.g., route selection to avoid a weather hazard area in its entirety). Most broadcast data link providers may be classified as commercial weather information providers (CWIP). Prior to using any weather information provided by a CWIP, certificate holders and program managers must contact their FAA certificate-holding district office (CHDO). In some cases, using weather information provided by a CWIP may require an FAA-approved Enhanced Weather Information System (EWINS). For airworthiness considerations related to installation of antennas and/or weather receivers, see Volume 4, Chapter 15, Section 1, paragraph 4-1648.

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D.    Contract/Demand or Contract/Update via Internet-Based Connectivity. Certificate holders/program managers may use in-flight broadband applications to access MET and AI FIS through a secure Internet portal. Certificate holders/program managers may choose to provide MET and AI in the cockpit, similar to the information provided to flightcrews and aircraft dispatchers during pre-flight planning on the ground. The certificate holder/program manager needs to develop protocols for using an Internet-based system in the cockpit, to include:

1)    Records and Reports. Certificate holders conducting part 121 operations, who desire to use an Internet-based system and EFB to communicate with a flightcrew, must comply with the following communication and record retention requirements:

·    § 121.99, Communication facilities—domestic and flag operations;

·    § 121.122, Communication facilities—supplemental operations;

·    § 121.687, Dispatch release: Flag and domestic operations;

·    § 121.689, Flight release form: Supplemental operations;

·    § 121.695, Disposition of load manifest, dispatch release, and flight plans: Domestic and flag operations;

·    § 121.697, Disposition of load manifest, flight release, and flight plans: Supplemental operations; and

·    § 121.711, Communication records: Domestic and flag operations.

2)    Security. If leveraging onboard Internet systems, a network security plan should exist for ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability for cockpit access to the cabin system. Certificate holders and program managers using public Internet for weather information are responsible for assuring timely delivery of information without data corruption during the transmission.
3)    Restrictions on Use. Part 121 certificate holders must have, and all other certificate holders/program managers should have policies and procedures, which restrict flightcrew use of non-pertinent information accessed via the Internet during all aircraft movement operations.
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3-2143    USING DATA LINK SERVICES FOR WEATHER BRIEFING DOCUMENTS/DISPATCH DOCUMENTS VIA A CAT 2 DATA LINK. Flight planning via a data link and using a portable electronic device/EFB, whether on the ground or airborne, is an acceptable use of CAT 2 Data Link Services.

A.    Dispatch/Weather Brief Documents. Certificate holders or program managers using weather briefing documents and/or dispatch documents may use data link to provide updated MET and AI, displayed on an EFB, to complement flightcrew’s weather briefing documents per the operator’s flight dispatch, flight following, or operational control system. The EFB must be capable of displaying the MET and AI and/or dispatch release package. The EFB should be easily accessible to the pilot in order for the pilot to have the ability to quickly access information, as needed.

B.    Digital/Electronic Dispatch. Certificate holders/program managers may also choose to dispatch and release flights electronically while on the ground or airborne using data link and an EFB, similar to the process some operators use via Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) today. It should be noted that any signatures to an electronic dispatch or flight release must meet the FAA’s criteria for what constitutes a valid digital/electronic signature. Criteria for the validity of digital/electronic signatures are described in the current edition of AC 120-78, Acceptance and Use of Electronic Signatures, Electronic Recordkeeping Systems, and Electronic Manuals, and Volume 3, Chapter 31, Section 2. All certificate holders and program managers must comply with all applicable 14 CFRs, including dispatch and flight release rules, and the retention of records and reports. In accordance with the requirements of part 121, certificate holders must include (or attach) weather reports and weather forecasts in each dispatch or flight release, and must retain these records in accordance with §§ 121.695 and 121.697.

C.    Paperless Weather Briefing Package. To replace a traditional paper copy of the weather package that’s printed on the ground (or airborne, via ACARS), the EFB must be capable of displaying/storing the MET and AI. Part 121 certificate holders must comply with dispatch and flight release, and record retention requirements of §§ 121.695 and 121.697, as applicable. (See also subparagraph 3-2142D1 of this section).

3-2144    DISPLAY OF MET AND AI ON THE FLIGHT DECK. Certificate holders and program managers may use a dedicated certified installed avionics display or EFB as an acceptable means to view MET and AI on the flight deck.

A.    Installed Avionics Display. MET and AI may be displayed on a dedicated installed cockpit display. When installing the display, refer to the applicable guidance in the current editions of AC 23.1311-1, Installation of Electronic Display in Part 23 Airplanes, or AC 25-11, Electronic Flight Deck Displays. AC 20-149 and Technical Standard Order (TSO) -C157a provides specific guidance for installed equipment that access the FAA provided AI and MET broadcasted and received over the UAT.

B.    EFB. The use of an EFB to display MET and AI requires software and data connectivity; thus, the EFB is classified as a Class 2 EFB using Type B software. This requires an authorization for use via FAA OpSpec/MSpec/LOA A061. Certificate holders/program managers using an EFB to display MET and AI to the cockpit should comply with the guidelines and guidance related to EFBs found in Volume 4, Chapter 15, Section 1, as well as the current editions of AC 120-76, AC 20-149, and AC 20-173.

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3-2145    CAT 2 MET AND AI REQUIREMENTS. CAT 2 services may include WPDS and WNDS as stand‑alone services or as a combination of services. Certificate holders/program managers need to provide MET and AI policies and procedures to flightcrews for safe and effective use of data linked FIS. Certificate holders and program managers must also address minimum equipment list (MEL) requirements and the qualifications of flightcrews through the approved training programs. Additionally, certificate holders conducting part 121 operations must develop guidance for aircraft dispatchers (domestic and flag) and operational control personnel (supplemental) that addresses the use of MET and AI in the cockpit. The procedures must include the method by which the certificate holder’s pilots and dispatchers/operational control personnel are using the same MET and AI for pre-flight planning and conducting of all flights. Certificate holders conducting part 121 domestic and flag operations must also have policies and procedures that address the requirements of § 121.601, which require aircraft dispatchers to provide the PIC with the most current available information before a flight departs, and while a flight is en route.

A.    Safety Management System (SMS). The certificate holder/program manager should conduct Safety Risk Management (SRM) and safety assurance of the data link system per their SMS program. The SRM process, at minimum, should assess situations of conflicting, incomplete, or missing MET and AI as well as for the loss of the complete MET and AI data link system. The risk assessment should result in a risk severity of no worse than a Minor.

B.    Manuals and Other Publications. Airplane Flight Manuals, operating manuals, maintenance manuals, general policy manuals, other manuals, publications, or written material must be appropriately amended to describe data link FIS equipment, procedures, and operational policies according to the appropriate regulation:

·    Park 91(K) program managers – §§ 91.1025(n) and/or 91.1025(o);

·    Part 121 certificate holders – §§ 121.135(b)(4) and 121.135(b)(15); and

·    Part 135 certificate holders who operate large transport category aircraft –§ 135.23(r).

C.    FIS Training Program Requirements.

1)    Curriculum. FIS curriculum should contain, at a minimum:

·    Textual description of each MET and AI product available;

·    Graphical example (if applicable) of each MET and AI product available;

·    Description of time stamping, color, and symbology schemes;

·    Limitations in specific products;

·    Differences between flight planning MET and AI products and in-cockpit MET and AI products (if applicable);

·    For part 121 operations, communication protocols with the dispatch center or flight following facilities, regarding the MET and AI available in the cockpit vs. what is available in the dispatch center or flight following facility. Emphasis must be on commonality of information available to both the flightcrew and the dispatcher;

·    Comparability between onboard weather radar and next generation weather radar (NEXRAD) images; and

·    Restrictions to using non-approved MET and AI products.

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2)    Initial Evaluation of FIS Knowledge and Skills. Evaluate individual flightcrew member’s FIS knowledge and skills prior to FIS use. Acceptable means of initial assessment include the evaluation by an authorized instructor or check pilot using written, computer-based, or oral tests, and a simulator or flight training device.
3)    FIS Recurrent Training. Integrate FIS recurrent training into other established recurrent training programs. Recurrent training should address any significant issues identified by line Operating Experience (OE), system changes, procedural changes, or unique characteristics, such as the introduction of new aircraft/display systems or operations.
4)    FIS Recurrent Evaluation. Incorporate recurrent FIS as an element of routine proficiency training.
5)    Line Checks and Route Checks. When using FIS-equipped aircraft during line or route checks, check pilot should routinely incorporate proper FIS use as a discussion item.

D.    Crew Resource Management (CRM). CRM programs should address effective teamwork for using FIS information while in the cockpit.

E.    Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL)/MEL. Certificate holders and program managers should formulate necessary revisions to their MEL for each particular fleet. At no time may FIS MET data mitigate current MMEL/MEL restrictions related to the aircraft’s onboard weather radar.

F.    Issues Unique to a Particular Operator. Certificate holders and program managers should address any FIS issues that may be unique to their particular route environment, aircraft, procedures, or FIS display and control features. Examples include the following:

·    Particular regional international operations;

·    Oceanic operations; and

·    Polar/Remote operations.

3-2146    CAT 1 MET AND AI REQUIREMENTS. CAT 1 services will entail all of the CAT 2 requirements as well as additional requirements that are still being developed. A group of aviation industry professionals and FAA subject matter experts are currently developing these requirements through RTCA SC-206: Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) Data Link. Once approved, a future revision of this section will detail these requirements.

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A.    General. The use of an EFB to display MET and AI requires authorization in OpSpec/MSpec/LOA A061. When displaying data-linked MET and AI to the cockpit, the certificate holder/program manager is responsible for ensuring that such information meets operational requirements. The operator must submit documentation demonstrating compliance with all operational requirements to the principal operations inspector (POI). All proposed manual and training materials must accompany the documentation. The FAA evaluation process follows the general process for approval and acceptance as described in Volume 3, Chapter 1, The General Process for Approval or Acceptance.

B.    POI Review. The POI must conduct a review of the documentation submitted by an operator to ensure it meets the requirements found in this section.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 3-2148 through 3-2154.