Testing Web-Based Preflight Weather Self-Briefing for General Aviation Pilots

The Internet affords an increasingly capable, economical, and popular vehicle for preflight weather self-briefing. This research constitutes the first known experimental investigation of how modern Web-based weather products are actually being used by general aviation (GA) pilots. A data-gathering emulation of the National Weather Service Web site http://aviationweather.gov was written for use on a personal computer. Eighteen Web pages were created to display weather information, each page emulating a similar category of product shown by aviationweather.gov. This formed the primary weather briefing site for two similar, challenging weather scenarios subsequently flown by 50 GA pilots in simulated cross-country VFR flight. Two dependent variables were measured—page views (which pages each pilot viewed) and pageview duration (how long each page was viewed). Total briefing time was then calculated for each pilot by summing pageview durations. A groupwise “dwell” index was also derived for each Web page by multiplying the group’s page views times its median pageview durations. A number of specific findings emerged from the data analysis. First, given a specific flight mission, the author found that, as a group, GA pilots appeared significantly consistent over time in the kinds of information they sought out. However, the amount of time they spent examining that information seemed to vary over time, even given similar flight situations. Second, pilots seem to have favorite information sources (e.g., graphical prog charts, TAFs, NEXRAD, and satellite cloud images). We could expect those favorites to shift slightly, depending on the flight mission. Third, Web page design is potentially important. For example, pages not accessible from the top-level menu may be ignored or overlooked. These findings are important to weather information providers because the ability to display certain types of information—and certain ways of displaying it—are sure to give the knowledgeable provider an advantage over competitors. The key is to have highly informative pages that still remain easy to understand.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 26p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01340393
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT/FAA/AM-11/5
  • Files: NTL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Apr 28 2011 2:57PM