Volunteer Pilots Needed for a Proof of Concept Study
Vol.8 Issue 9
Pilot Reports (PIREPs) Proof of Concept Study

It is now eight weeks into the Pilot Reports Proof of Concept study, where pilots flying within 50 nautical miles of Will Rogers World Airport and Nenana Municipal Airport can volunteer their time and be financially compensated for providing actual weather observations. The process is easy and requires minimal effort for pilots interested in participating.

It’s as simple as registering at: https://cbtopsatcami.faa.gov. Pilots are required to listen to short briefing explaining the project, then they are required to sign an informed consent document, and answer a brief demographics questionnaire.

PIREP Study Sign-Up QR Code

Once enrolled in the study, pilots will receive a unique call sign to use during the duration of the study. Compensation will be provided for each PIREP filed. Pilots are required to complete a bi-weekly online survey before compensation can be made.

Tom George, Alaska Regional Manager and member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association explains, "Testing the concept of pilots filing and retrieving pilot reports over the radio with an automated ground station is very exciting, and we are pleased to work with the FAA to explore this idea. If successful, this could provide an additional way to interact with the PIREP system."

To date, 130 pilots have signed up to participate in the study and new registrations are being received daily. All pilots that fly in these vicinities are encouraged to participate, as their input contributes to the improvement of this concept over the course of the study.

The concept uses Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Cloud Computing to let pilots both report and retrieve PIREPs without having to talk to an ATC controller or Flight Service specialist. The results of these efforts could pave the way toward an additional means to file and retrieve PIREPs.

Figure 1 – CbToPS website "Home" page

This image shows the CbTOPS website "Home" page where both experimental PIREPs (submitted as part of the proof of concept study) and PIREPs available in the National Airspace System (NAS) at a time are displayed.


Click on headset icon to hear actual PIREP filed by a pilot volunteer.

Dr. Daniela Kratchounova, Principal Investigator for this research states, "The PIREP study research team is very pleased with the progress we are making so far. The form of artificial intelligence (AI) used in this study, namely natural language processing (NLP), is evolving well. It is nowhere near perfect, but with the help of all pilot volunteers and their timely feedback, the algorithm is learning!"

Figures 2 and 3 reflect the feasiblity, utility and usability ratings provided by volunteer pilots as of December 16, 2022. More specifically, Figure 2 demonstrates that users rated submitting PIREPs using this concept as "Very good" and "Excellent" across all feasibility, utility and usability dimensions.

Figure 3
This shows that participants assessed PIREPs retrieval via all three methods (via VHF radio, the website, and mobile app), with above "Adequate" ratings. These initial findings capture the users’ positive feedback regarding the overall operational viability and practicality of this new method to submit and retrieve PIREPs.

PIREP Retrieval via VHF Radio
PIREP Retrieval via Website and Mobile App
(Audio Playback)

PIREP Retrieval via Website and Mobile App
(Voice to Text Transcription)
PIREP Retrieval via Website and Mobile App
(Plain Text)

Here is some of the feedback that has been obtained from volunteer pilots:

  • "Once this system is interfaced with other online weather products, it will be one of the greatest additions to the overall PIREP submission and pilot awareness. Right now, to lack of submission I have not been able to fully utilize the system and assess it."
  • "Though it only worked twice, it seemed to work well."
  • "I liked this!"
  • "Worked!"
  • "Excited to see a more wide-spread implementation of this."

For any questions about the study, please contact Daniela Kratchounova or the Study Support Staff.

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