Oral Exam Preparation Questions and Answers
1. State the general characteristics in regard to the flow of air around high and low pressure systems in the Northern Hemisphere. (AC 00-6A)
Low Pressure – inward, upward, and counterclockwise
2. What is a “trough”? (AC00-6A)
A trough (also called a trough line) is an elongated area of relatively low atmosphere pressure. At the surface when air converges into a low, it cannot go outward against the pressure gradient, nor can it go downward into the ground; it must go upward. Therefore, a low or trough is an area of rising air. Rising air is conductive to cloudiness and precipitation; hence he general association of low pressure and bad weather.
3. What is a “Ridge”? (AC 00-6A)
A ridge (also called a ridge line) is an elongated area of relatively high atmospheric pressure. Air moving out of a high or ridge depletes the quantity of air; therefore, these are areas of descending air. Descending air favors dissipation of cloudiness; hence the association of high pressure and good weather.
4. What are the standard temperature and pressure values for sea level? (AC 00-6A)
15 °C and 29.92” Hg
5. What are “isobars”? (AC 00-6A)
An isobar is a line on a weather chart which connects areas of equal or constant barometric pressure.
6. If the isobars are relatively close together on a surface weather chart or a constant pressure chart, what information will this provide? (AC 00-6A)
The spacing of isobars on these charts defines how steep or shallow a pressure gradient is. When isobars are spaced very close together, a steep pressure gradient exists which indicates higher wind speeds. A shallow pressure gradient (isobars not close together) usually means wind speeds will be less.
7. What causes the winds aloft to flow parallel to the isobars? (AC 00-6A)
The Coriolis force.
8. Why do surface winds generally flow across the isobars at an angle? (AC 00-6A)
9. At what rate does atmospheric pressure decrease with an increase in altitude? (AC 00-6A)
1” Hg per 1,000 feet.
10. What does “dew point” mean? (AC 00-6A)
Dew point is the temperature to which a sample of air must be cooled to attain the state of saturation.
11. When temperature and dew point are close together (within 5 °), what type of weather is likely? (AC 00-6A)
Visible moisture in the form of clouds, dew, or fog. Also, these are ideal conditions for carburetor icing.
12. What factor primarily determines the type and vertical extent of clouds? (AC 00-6A)
The stability of the atmosphere.
13. How do you determine the stability of the atmosphere? (AC 00-6A)
By observing the actual lapse rate and comparing it to the standard lapse rate of 3.5 ° F per 1,000 feet. The “K” index of a stability chart is the primary means of determining stability. In general, stable air cools at a rate less than the standard lapse rate with altitude, and unstable air cools at a rate that is greater than the standard lapse rate.
14. List the effects of stable and unstable air on clouds, turbulence, precipitation and visibility. (AC 00-6A)
15. At what altitude above the surface would the pilot expect the bases of cumuliform clouds if the surface temperature is 82 ° and the dew point is 62 °? (AC 00-6A)
You can estimate the height of cumuliform cloud bases using surface temperature/dew point spread. Unsaturated air in a convective current cools at about 5.4 ° F (3.0 ° C) per 1,000 feet; dew point decreases at about 1 ° F (5/9 ° C). Thus, in a convective current, temperature and dew point converge at about 4.4 ° F (2.5 ° C) per 1,000 feet. You can get a quick estimate of a convective cloud base in thousands of feet by rounding the values and dividing into the spread. When using Fahrenheit, divide by 4 and multiply by 1,000. This method of estimating is reliable only with instability, clouds and during the warmer part of the day.
(Temperature – Dew point) / 4 * 1,000 = Base of clouds
16. What will the freezing level be if the field elevation is 1,000 feet and the temperature at the surface is 15 ° C? (AC 00-6A)
The freezing level (0 ° C) can be estimated by subtracting 2 ° C per 1,000 feet (average lapse rate) from 15 ° C and then adding the result to the field elevation. For this example the freezing level will be at 8,5000 MSL.
17. What conditions are necessary for structural icing to occur? (AC 00-6A)
Visible moisture and below freezing temperatures at the point moisture strikes the aircraft.
18. What are the two main types of icing? (AC 00-6A)
Structural and Induction.
19. Name four types of structural ice. (AC 00-6A)
Clear ice – forms when large drops strike the aircraft surface and slowly freeze.
20. What action is recommended if you inadvertently encounter icing conditions? (AC 00-6A)
Change course and/or altitude; usually, climb to a higher altitude, if possible.
21. Is frost considered to be hazardous to flight? Why? (AC 00-6A)
Yes, because while frost does not change the basic aerodynamic shape of the wing, the roughness of its surface spoils the smooth flow of air, thus causing a slowing of airflow. This slowing of the flow of air causes early airflow separation, resulting in a loss of lift. Even a small amount of frost on airfoils may prevent an aircraft from becoming airborne at normal takeoff speed. It is also possible that, once airborne, an aircraft could have insufficient margin of airspeed above stall so that moderate gusts or turning flight could produce incipient or complete stalling.
22. What factors must be present for a thunderstorm to form? (AC 00-6A)
a. A source of lift (heating, fast-moving front)
23. What are the three stages of a thunderstorm? (AC 00-6A)
Cumulus Stage – Updrafts cause raindrops to increase in size.
24. What is “temperature inversion”? (AC 00-6A)
25. State two basic ways that fog may form. (AC 00-6A)
a. Cool air to the dew point
26. Name several types of fog. (AC 00-6A)
a. Radiation fog
27. What causes radiation fog to form? (AC 00-6A)
The ground cools the adjacent air to the dew point on calm, clear nights.
28. What is advection fog, and where is it most likely to form? (AC 00-6A)
Advection fog results from the transport of warm humid air over a cold surface. A pilot can expect advection fog to form primarily along coastal areas during the winter. Unlike radiation fog, it may occur with winds, cloudy skies, over a wide geographic area, and at any time of the day or night.
29. What is upslope fog? (AC 00-6A)
Upslope fog forms as a result of moist, stable air being cooled adiabatically as it moves up sloping terrain. Once the upslope wind ceases, the fog dissipates. Upslope fog is often quite dense and extends to high altitudes.
30. Define the term “ wind shear,” and state the areas in which it is likely to occur. (AC 00-6A)
Wind shear is defines as the rate of change of wind velocity (direction and / or speed) per unit distance; conventionally expressed as vertical or horizontal wind shear. It may occur at any level in the atmosphere but three areas are of special concern :
a. Wind Shear with a low-level temperature inversion.
31. Why is wind shear an operational concern to pilots?
Wind shear is an operational concern because unexpected changes in wind speed and direction can be potentially very hazardous to aircraft operations at low altitudes on approach to and departing from airports.
B. Obtaining Weather Information
1. What is the primary means of obtaining a weather briefing? (AIM 7-1-2)
The primary source is an individual briefing obtained from a briefer at the AFSS/FSS. These briefings, which are tailored to your specific flight, are available 24 hours a day through the use of the toll-free number (1-800-WX BRIEF).
2. What are some examples of other sources of weather information? (AIM 7-1-2)
a. Telephone Information Briefing Service (TIBS) (AFSS)
3. Where can you find a listing of FSS and weather information numbers? (AIM 7-1-2)
Numbers for these services can be found in the Airport / Facility Directory under the “FAA and NWS Telephone Numbers” section. They are also listed in the U.S. Government section of the local telephone directory.
4. What types of weather briefings are available from an FSS briefer? (AIM 7-1-4)
Standard Briefing – Request when you are planning a flight and you have not received a previous briefing or have not received preliminary information through mass dissemination media (TIBS, TWEB, etc.).
Abbreviated Briefing – Request when you need information t supplement mass disseminated data, update a previous briefing, or when you need only one or two items.
Outlook Briefing – Request whenever your proposed time of departure is six or more hours form the time of the briefing; for planning purpose only.
In flight Briefing – Request when needed to update a preflight briefing.
5. What pertinent information should a weather briefing include? (AIM 7-1-4)
a. Adverse Conditions
6. What is EFAS (AIM 7-1-5)
En route Flight Advisory Service (EFAS) is a service specifically designed to provide en route aircraft with timely and meaningful weather advisories pertinent to the type of flight intended, route of flight, and altitude. In conjunction with this service, EFAS is also a central collection and distribution point for pilot reported weather information (PIREPs). EFAS provides for communications capabilities for aircraft flying at 5,000 feet above ground; level to 17,5000 feet MSL on a common frequency of 122.0 MHz. It is also known as “Flight Watch.”
7. What is HIWAS? (AIM 7-1-10)
Hazardous In-flight Weather Advisory Service (HIWAS) is a continuous broadcast of in-flight weather advisories including summarized Aviation Weather Warnings, SIGMETs, Convective SIGMETs, Center Weather Advisories, AIRMETs, and urgent PIREPs. HIWAS is an additional source of hazardous weather information which makes this data available on a continuous basis.
C. Aviation Weather Reports and Observations
1. What is a METAR? (AC 00-45E)
METAR, or Aviation Routine Weather Report : An hourly surface observation of conditions observed at an airport.
2. Describe the basic elements of a METAR. (AC 00-45E)
A METAR report contains the following elements in order as presented :
a. Type of reports – the METAR, and the SPECI (aviation special weather report).
3. Describe several types of weather observing programs available. (AIM 7-1-12)
a. Manual Observations – reports made from airport locations staffed by FAA or NES personnel.
4. What are PIREPs (UA), and where are they usually found? (AC 00-45E)
These reports contain information concerning weather as observed by pilots en route. Required elements for all PIREPs are message type, location, time (in UTC), flight level (altitudes are MSL), type of aircraft, and at least one weather element encountered (visibility in SM, distances in NM). A PIREP (abbreviation for “Pilot Reports”) is usually transmitted as an individual report but can be appended to a surface aviation weather report or placed into collectives. Also referred to in code reported as “UA”.
5. What are Radar Weather Reports (SD)? (AC 00-45E)
General areas of precipitation, including rain, snow, and thunderstorms, can be observed by radar. The radar weather report (SD) includes the type, intensity, and location of the echo top of the precipitation. All heights are reported above MSL. Radar stations report each hour at H+35. SDs should be used along with METARs, satellite photos, and forecasts when planning a flight, to help in thunderstorm area avoidance. But once airborne, depend on Flight Watch, which has the capability to display current radar images, airborne radar, or visual sighting to evade individual storms.
D. Aviation Weather Forecasts
1. What are Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs)?
An Aviation Terminal Forecasts (TAF) is a concise statement of the expected meteorological conditions within a 5-SM radius from the center of an airport’s runway complex during a 24-hour time period. The TAFs use the same weather code found in METAR weather reports, in the following format:
2. What is an Aviation Area Forecast (FA)? (AC 00-45E)
A forecast of visual meteorological conditions (VMC), clouds, and general weather conditions over an area the size of several states. To understand the complete weather picture, the FA must be used along with in flight weather advisories to determine forecast en route weather and to interpolate conditions at airports where no TAFs are issued. FAs are issued 3 times a day by the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) for each of the 6 areas in the contiguous 48 states. The weather forecast office (WFO) in Honolulu issues FAs for Hawaii. The Alaska Aviation Weather Unit (AAWU) in Anchorage, Alaska produces the FA for the entire state of Alaska. There are also two specialized FAs, one for the Gulf of Mexico, and one for international airspace.
3. What information is provided by an Aviation Area Forecast (FA)? (AC 00-45E)
The FA is comprised of four sections :
a. Communications and product header section – identifies the office from which the FA is issued, the date and time of issue, the product name, the valid times and the states and/or areas covered by the FA.
SEE AIRMET SIERRA FOR IFT CONDITIONS AND MTNOBSC
TSTMS IMPLY PSBL SVR OR GTR TURBC SVR ICG LLWS AND IFR CONDS
NON MSL HGTS ARE DENOTED BY AGL OR CIG
4. What are in flight Aviation Weather Advisories (WST,WS,WA)? (AC 00-45E)
In flight aviation weather advisories are forecasts to advise en route aircraft of development of potentially hazardous weather, in 3 types: the SIGMET, AIRMET, and Convective SIGMET. All heights are referenced MSL, except in the case of ceilings CIG, which indicate AGL.
5. What is a Convective SIGMET? (AC 00-45E)
Convective SIGMETs (WST) implies severe or greater turbulence, severe icing and low-level wind shear. They may be issued for any convective simulation which the forecaster feels is hazardous to all categories of aircraft. Convective SIGMET bulletins are issued for the Eastern (E), Central ( C ) and Western (W) united States (Convective SIGMETs are not issued for Alaska or Hawaii). Bulletins are issued hourly at H+55. Special bulletins are issued at any time as required and updated at H+55. The text of the bulletin consists of either an observation and a forecast, or just a forecast. The forecast is valid for up to 2 hours.
a. Severe thunderstorm due to:
6. What is a SIGMET (WS)? (AC 00-45E)
A SIGMET (WS) advises of non-convective weather that is potentially hazardous to all aircraft. SIGMETs are issued for the six areas corresponding to the FA areas. The maximum forecast period is four hours. In the conterminous U.S. SIGMETs are issued when the following phenomena occur or are expected to occur:
a. Severe icing not associated with a thunderstorm;
7. What is an AIRMET (WA)? (AC 00-45E)
Advisories of significant weather phenomena that describe conditions at intensities lower than those which require the issuance of SIGMETs, intended for use by all pilots in the preflight and en route phase of flight to enhance safety. AIRMET Bulletins are issued every 6 hours beginning at 0145 UTC during Central Daylight Time and at 0245 UTC during Central Standard Time. Unscheduled updates and corrections are issued as necessary.
8. What is a TWEB? (AC 00-45E)
NWS offices prepare transcribed weather broadcast (TWEB) text products for the contiguous U.S., including synopsis and forecast for more than 200 routes and local vicinities. TWEB products are valid for 12 hours and are issued 4 times a day at 0200Z, 0800Z, 1400Z, and 2000Z in a variety of sources (TIBS, PATWAS, and more).
9. What is a Winds and Temperatures Aloft Forecast (FD)? (AC 00-45E)
Winds and temperature aloft are forecasted for specific locations in the contiguous U.S., and also prepared for a network of locations in Alaska and Hawaii. Forecasts are made twice daily based on the 00Z and 12Z radiosonde data for use during specific time intervals. FDs contain the following characteristics:
a. The valid period the FD may be used, and annotation “TEMPS NEG ABV 24000”. Since temperatures above 24,000 feet are always negative, the minus sign is omitted.
10. What valuable information can be determined form Winds and Temperatures Aloft Forecasts (FD)? (AC 00-45E)
Most favorable altitude – based on winds and direction of flight.
11. What are Center Weather Advisories (CWA)? (AC 00-45E)
A Center Weather Advisory (CWA) is an aviation warning for use by aircrews to anticipate and avoid adverse weather conditions in the en route and terminal environments. The CWA is not a flight planning product; instead it reflects current conditions expected at the time of issuance and/or is a short-range forecast for conditions expected to begin within 2 hours of issuance. CWAs are valid for a maximum of 2 hours. If conditions are expected to continue beyond the 2-hour valid period, a statement will be included in the CWA.
12. What is a Convective Outlook (AC)? (AC 00-45E)
A national forecast of thunderstorm, in 2 parts: Day 1 Convective Outlook (first 24 hours), and Day 2 Convection Outlook (next 24 hours). Describe areas in which there is a slight, moderate, or high risk of severe thunderstorms, as well as areas of general (non-severe ) thunderstorms. The times of issuance for Day 1 are 0600Z, 1300Z, 1630Z, 2000Z, and 0100Z. The initial Day 2 issuance is at 0830Z during standard time and 0730Z during daylight time, updated at 1730Z. The AC is a flight planning tool used to avoid thunderstorms.
E. Aviation Weather Charts
1. Give some examples of current weather charts available at the FSS or NWSO used in flight planning. (AC 00-45E)
a. Surface Analysis Chart.
2. What is a Surface Analysis Chart? (AC 00-45E)
This is a computer-prepared chart that covers the contiguous 48 states and adjacent areas. The chart is transmitted every three hours. The surface analysis chart provides a ready means of locating pressure systems and fronts. It also gives an overview of winds, temperatures and dew point temperatures at chart time. When using the chart, keep in mind that weather moves and conditions change. Using the surface analysis chart in conjunction with other information gives a more complete weather picture.
3. What information dies a Weather Depiction Chart provide? (AC 00-45E)
The weather depiction chart is computer-generated (with a weather observer’s analysis of fronts) from METAR reports. This chart gives a broad overview of the observed flying category conditions at the valid time of the chart. The chart begins at 01Z each day, is transmitted at three-hour intervals, and is valid at the time of the plotted data. The plotted data for each station area are: total sky cover, cloud height or ceiling, weather and obstructions to vision and visibilities. The weather depiction chart is an ideal place to begin in preparing for a weather briefing and flight planning. From this chart one can get a “bird’s-eye” view of areas of favorable and adverse weather conditions at chart time.
4. Define the terms : IFR, MVFR and VFR. (AC 00-45E)
IFR : Ceilings less than 1,000 and/or visibilities less than 3 miles (Instrument Flight Rules)
MVFR: Marginal VFR) Ceiling 1,000 to 3,000 feet inclusive and/or visibility 3 to 5 miles inclusive
VFR: No ceiling, or ceiling greater than 3,000 and visibility greater than 5 miles (Visual Flight Rules)
5. What are Radar Summary Charts? (AC 00-45E)
Computer-generated graphical display of a collection of automated radar weather reports (SDs). The chart displays areas of precipitation as well as information about type, intensity, configuration, coverage, echo top, and cell movement of precipitation. Severe weather watches are plotted if they are in effect when the chart is valid. The chart is available hourly with a valid time of 35 minutes past each hour.
6. What are Significant Weather Prognostic Charts? (AC 00-45E)
Called “Progs”, these charts portray forecasts of selected weather conditions at specified valid times (12,24,36 and 48 hour progs). Each valid time is the time at which the forecast conditions are expected to occur, made from a comprehensive set of observed weather conditions. The observed conditions are extended forward in time and become forecasts by considering atmospheric and environmental processes. Forecast information for the surface to 24,000 feet is provided by the low-level significant weather progchart. Forecast information from above 24,000 to 60,000 feet is provided by the high-level significant weather prog chart.
7. Describe a U.S. Low-Level Significant Weather Prog Chart. (AC 00-45E)
It is a “Day One” forecast of significant weather for the conterminous U.S., pertaining to the layer from surface to FL240 (400mb). With two forecast periods, 12 hours and 24 hours, the chart is composed of four panels. The two lower panels depict the 12- and 24-hour surface progs, and the two upper panels depict the 12- and 24-hour significant weather progs. Issued four times a day at 00Z, 06Z, 12Z, and 18Z. Covered are forecast positions and characteristics of pressure systems, fronts, and precipitation. Much insight can be gained by evaluating the individual fields of pressure patterns, fronts, precipitation, weather flying categories, freezing levels, and turbulence displayed on the chart.
8. What is a Forecast Winds and Temperatures Aloft Chart (FD)? (AC 00-45E)
This chart is a computer-generated chart depicting both observed and forecast winds and temperatures aloft. Forecast winds and temperatures aloft are prepared for eight levels on eight separate panels. The levels are 6,000, 9,000, 12,000, 18,000, 24,000, 30,000, 34,000 and 39,000 feet MSL. They are available daily as 12-hour progs valid at 1200Z and 0000Z. These charts are typically used to determine winds at a proposed altitude or to select the best altitude for a proposed flight. Temperatures also can be determined from the forecast charts. Interpolation must be used to determine winds and temperatures at a level between charts and data when the time period is other than the valid time of the chart.
9. What is a Composite Moisture Stability Chart? (AC 00-45E)
This is an analysis chart using observed upper air data. The Chart is composed of four panels including stability, freezing level, perceptible water and, average relative humidity. This computer-generated chart is available twice daily with valid times of 12Z and 00Z. It is used to determine the characteristics of a particular weather system in terms of stability, moisture, and possible aviation hazards. Generally, these characteristics tend to move with the associated weather systems, such as lows, highs, and fronts. Exercise caution, as modification of these characteristics could occur through development, dissipation, or the movement of the system.
10. What is a Convective Outlook Chart? (AC 00-45E)
This chart depicts areas forecast to have thunderstorms, and is presented in two panels. The left-hand panel is the Day 1 Convective Outlook, and the right-hand panel is the Day 2 Convective Outlook. “Day 1” outlines areas in the continental U.S. where thunderstorms are forecasted during that period. It is issued five times daily (0600Z, 1300Z, 1630Z, 2000Z, and 0100Z) and all issuances are valid till 12Z the following day. The outlook issued qualifies the level of risk (i.e., SLGT, MDT, HIGH) as well as the areas of general thunderstorms.
11. What are Constant Pressure Analysis Charts? (AC 00-45E)
Any surface of equal pressure in the atmosphere is constant pressure surface. A constant pressure analysis chart is an upper air weather map where all information depicted is at the specified pressure of the chart. From these charts, a pilot can approximate the observed air temperature, wind, and temperature-dew point spread along the proposed route. They also depict highs, lows, troughs, and ridges aloft by the height contour patterns resembling isobars on a surface map. Twice daily, six computer-prepared constant pressure charts are transmitted by facsimile for six pressure levels:
850 mb …………………5,000 ft
12. Describe the Volcanic Ash Forecast Transport and Dispersion Chart. (AC 00-45E)
This VAFTAD chart presents the relative concentrations of ash following a volcanic eruption for three layers of the atmosphere in addition to a composite of ash concentration through the atmosphere. The chart focuses on hazards to aircraft flight operations caused by volcanic eruption with an emphasis on the ash cloud location in time and space. It used National Centers for Environmental Prediction forecast data to determine the location of ash concentrations over 6-hour and 12-hour intervals. The chart is strictly for advanced flight planning purposes. It is not intended to take the place of SIGMETs regarding volcanic eruptions and ash.