Our Flight Operations Center (FOC) is like a “third pilot.” As an example, the Crew Services team at our FOC actively follows all PlaneSense aircraft that are flying at any given moment. To do that, they use Fusion, a technology offered by WSI, which is a Weather Channel company. Often referred to as “flight following,” it’s a live connection to each flight from take-off to landing. In tandem with NOTAMs, METARs, TAFs, and TFRs, it is one part of the stream of live data and visual displays we use 24/7 to optimize our operations so you can fly where you need to go on your schedule.
NOTAMs [Notice To Airmen] are created and transmitted by government agencies and airport operators to inform about hazards which could include air-shows, closed runways, inoperable radio navigational aids, temporary obstacles near airfields, or military exercises.
METARs [Message d’Observation Météorologique pour l’Aviation Régulière] convey weather conditions reported by a human observer or an automated weather observation system. These codes have been standardized by International Civil Aviation Organization and are used in pre-flight weather briefings. METARs are also known as Aviation Routine Weather Reports.
TFRs [Temporary Flight Restriction] are geographically-limited, short-term, airspace restrictions around major sporting events, natural disaster areas, air shows, space launches, and Presidential movements. TFRs are used to restrict airspace, typically with an outer protective ring of 30 nautical miles around the President and an inner ring of a 10-nautical-mile radius no-fly zone for flights other than scheduled commercial air carriers.
TAFs [Terminal Area Forecast] are local weather forecasts that complement METAR reports. They are produced by a human forecaster based on the ground, take into account local, small-scale, geographic effects and apply to a five statute mile radius from the center of the airport runway complex, typically for a 9 to 12 hour period.