FA Swan Song
The area forecast is going away. While we mourn its passing, we’re left searching for a suitable replacement for IFR alternate planning to airports without TAFs.
Receiving my instrument ticket from a university pilot-mill, flight and weather planning was grueling and intense. For flights over an hour, a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) is used. For secondary airports within five miles of a field with a TAF, the TAF from the primary airport can be used No TAF? Use the Area Forecast (FA).
This originated from the Aviation Weather Services advisory circular, which states that an FA is used “to interpolate conditions at airports which [sic] do not have a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast.” Determining forecast weather, particularly ceilings and visibilities, is essential for instrument pilots to ascertain if an alternate is needed and to select one that meets requirements.