When the FAA’s direct user access terminal service (DUATS) first went on line in 1989, it was a big deal. Anyone with a 28.8 modem hooked to a computer could dial up an FAA-approved weather service and obtain their flight-planning information for free, without needing to speak with a human. It was a relatively slow, low-resolution service, but it worked.
We’ve all come a long way since then, but DUATS won’t be going any further. That’s because the FAA on May 16, 2018, discontinued the service operated through thewww.duats.com. web site.
According to the agency, “Internet services, including access to weather and aeronautical information, flight plan filing and automated services will remain available at no charge to pilots atwww.1800wxbrief.com. The current provider of those services, Leidos, is expected to continue the1800wxbrief.com. site into 2020. By that time, the FAA expects to have awarded a contract in its Future Flight Services Program (FFSP).
Hopefully, what feels like the abrupt end of DUATS will not have much of an impact on its former users. The potential worst consequence is needing to change your DUATS links to the Leidos web site and creating a new logon ID and password.
For many pilots, the transition likely won’t be noticed. Popular electronic flight bag (EFB) apps like ForeFlight and Garmin Pilot long ago went beyond what is/was available on DUATS alone and pulled in data and imagery from a variety of sources. That will continue. And the many other aviation weather services available from Jeppesen, The Weather Company and other providers aren’t going anywhere. In fact, if it wasn’t for the success of DUATS, those other services might not exist, or might not be as ubiquitous as they are.
Another free, U.S. government web site isaviationweather.gov,. operated by the National Weather Service. It offers a wider array of imagery than1800wxbrief.com,. including the graphical forecasts for aviation (GFA), which replaced the recently discontinued text-based area forecast for the continental U.S. The image on page 29 is a screenshot of the GFA product available onaviationweather.gov.
FAA Releases New Traffic Pattern Guidance
A new Advisory Circular from the FAA, AC 90-66B, Non-Towered Airport Flight Operations, was published in March 2018 and greatly expands previous guidance from the agency. Among the additional details it offers is the two midfield pattern entry procedures highlighted below. An additional detail is the FAA’s official position on using the phrase “any traffic in the area, please advise.” The agency wants you to know it “is not a recognized self-announce position and/or intention phrase and should not be used under any condition.” That would seem to settle that.