June 7, 2019

Two recent changes highlight the ongoing evolution and refinement of flight service resources available to business aviation pilots.

Later this month, the FAA will complete its Clearance Relay initiative, which is intended to streamline clearance delivery procedures at uncontrolled airports. An approved clearance telephone number, direct to the appropriate approach control facility or air route traffic control center will now be published for all public and private-use airports listed in the digital and paper versions of the chart supplement, formerly known as the Airport/Facility Directory.

Listed under the airport’s “communications” listing, the newly published phone numbers will ultimately replace the current Leidos Flight Service clearances number.

“NBAA has long advocated for this change to aeronautical charting that provides pilots the ability to directly contact the appropriate controlling facility to obtain or cancel an IFR clearance, reducing the risk of potential errors,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA director for air traffic services and infrastructure.

The FAA launched the Clearance Relay project in 2018, initially publishing phone numbers for 30 approach control facilities covering 667 public-use airports. That effort quickly expanded to include all public and private-use airports with a chart supplement entry.

The agency also recently announced discontinuation of the Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) in the contiguous U.S. later this year. Once a vital resource for pilots, Williams noted the service, which utilizes automated recording of hazardous weather conditions through VOR radio frequencies, has been supplanted in recent years by more advanced technologies.

“The FAA solicited comments from the industry, including general aviation and business aviation pilots, and found that very few still utilized HIWAS given the increased availability of inflight radar and data link weather information on the flight deck,” she said. “Standing the system down allows those resources to be applied in other necessary directions.”

The updated chart supplement will be published June 20, while HIWAS will be discontinued with publication of a final policy notice in the Federal Register expected by Sept. 30.