Flight Redemptions

What is HIWAS in Aviation? (Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service)

Updated: February 27, 2024

Understanding the Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS)

Aviation is a highly regulated and safety-oriented industry, and it is crucial for pilots and air traffic controllers to have access to accurate and up-to-date weather information. One of the key services that provide this vital information is the Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS). HIWAS is designed to enhance flight safety by providing pilots with detailed weather advisories for their planned routes, helping them avoid hazardous weather conditions and make informed decisions during flight.

The Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) is an automated broadcast service that provides weather information to pilots flying in the United States National Airspace System (NAS). It is operated by the National Weather Service (NWS) and is available in selected areas where the service can be received. HIWAS broadcasts are made over selected Very High Frequency (VHF) navigation aids, such as VOR (VHF Omni-directional Range) or NDB (Non-Directional Beacon) facilities.

The Purpose of HIWAS

The primary purpose of HIWAS is to provide pilots with timely weather information that may affect the safety of their flights. The service broadcasts weather advisories, including Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMETs) and SIGMETs (Significant Meteorological Information), which are issued by the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) and local forecast offices of the National Weather Service. These advisories contain critical information about hazardous weather phenomena, such as thunderstorms, icing, turbulence, and volcanic ash, among others.

By listening to HIWAS broadcasts, pilots can stay informed about the current and forecasted weather conditions along their route of flight. This allows them to proactively plan and adjust their flight paths to avoid hazardous weather, ensuring the safety of the aircraft, crew, and passengers. HIWAS is particularly valuable for pilots flying in areas with limited or no radar coverage, as it provides them with essential weather information that radar might not capture.

How HIWAS Works

HIWAS broadcasts are transmitted on a continuous loop, allowing pilots to tune in at any time and receive updated weather information. The broadcasts are typically updated every hour and can be heard on specific frequencies assigned to each HIWAS-equipped VOR or NDB facility. Pilots can access HIWAS broadcasts by tuning their VHF communication radios to the designated frequency of the nearest HIWAS facility along their route of flight.

When pilots tune in to a HIWAS broadcast, they will hear a series of pre-recorded voice messages that provide weather information for the area covered by the particular HIWAS facility. The messages include the current weather conditions, as well as any AIRMETs and SIGMETs that are in effect. Pilots can listen to the entire broadcast or wait until the relevant information for their flight is announced.

It is important to note that HIWAS broadcasts are not interactive and do not provide real-time updates. Pilots should always consult other sources of weather information, such as flight service stations or aviation weather websites, for the most current weather conditions and updates. Additionally, pilots should use their judgment and experience to interpret the weather information provided by HIWAS and make appropriate decisions based on the specific conditions they encounter during flight.

Benefits and Limitations of HIWAS

Using the Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) offers several benefits to pilots:

Enhanced Safety: By providing pilots with detailed weather advisories, HIWAS helps them avoid hazardous weather conditions and make informed decisions during flight, thereby enhancing safety.
Efficiency: HIWAS broadcasts allow pilots to access weather information quickly and conveniently, without the need for direct communication with air traffic control or flight service stations.
Cost-effective: HIWAS is a free service provided by the National Weather Service, making it accessible to all pilots operating in areas where the service is available.

However, it is important to recognize the limitations of HIWAS:

Coverage: HIWAS is not available in all areas and is limited to specific VOR and NDB facilities. Pilots flying in areas without HIWAS coverage should rely on alternative sources of weather information.
Updates: HIWAS broadcasts are updated every hour, which means the information provided may not always reflect real-time weather conditions. Pilots should consult other sources for the most current weather updates.
Interpretation: Pilots must have the knowledge and experience to interpret the weather information provided by HIWAS accurately. It is essential to consider other factors, such as local conditions and pilot reports, to make informed decisions during flight.

In conclusion, the Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) plays a crucial role in enhancing flight safety by providing pilots with detailed weather advisories. By utilizing this service, pilots can stay informed about hazardous weather conditions along their route of flight and make informed decisions to ensure the safety of their aircraft, crew, and passengers. While HIWAS offers several benefits, it is essential for pilots to understand its limitations and use it in conjunction with other sources of weather information to make well-informed decisions during flight.

Recent Posts