How to Decode PIREPs (Quick Flight Tips)

What is a PIREP?


PIREPs are one of the most forgotten basic weather observations around.


Pilots are one of the best sources and can provide the only real time source of upper altitude weather observations during flight.


Decoding a PIREP:


All PIREP require current data as follows:

  • UA – Routine, UUA – Urgent

  • /OV – location of the PIREP, using a 3-letter NAVAID identifier (/OV LGB – over Long Beach VOR)

  • /TM – Time the PIREP was received from the pilot

  • /FL – Flight Level or altitude during the report in hundreds of feet.

  • /TP – Type aircraft, using a 4-digit identifier (C172, PA28, B737, A320, UNKN = Unknown)


Optional Information on a PIREP report:

  • /SK – Cloud cover: are in MSL (measured sea level)

    • Height of cloud base

    • Height of cloud tops

    • Separate cloud layers use (/) – SK 005 BKN / SK 012 OVC

    • UNKN –unknown

  • /WX - Weather or flight visibility

  • /TA – Air temperature in Celsius (TA15 (15⁰C), TA -06 (minus 6⁰C))

  • /WV – Wind direction and velocity, in a six digit format – WV 280110

  • /TB – Turbulence

  • /IC – Icing - /IC LGT RIME (icing light rime ice)

  • /RM – Remarks







This PIREP is a Routine (UA) Upper Air observation. The aircraft that is reporting this PIREP is over the BYP VOR station, northeast of DFW international airport (OV BYP) at 1339 Zulu. The aircraft was flying at an altitude of 16,500 feet (FL165) and the aircraft type is a Lear Jet 40 (TP LJ40). Addition information about the pilots’ observation is in the remarks section, which says; moderate turbulence with drifting dust (DURD), accelerated with wind shift. This aircraft is a “SKYSPOTTER” (AWC-WEB).


Learning to read PIREPs can be difficult, but pilots must learn it.

Remember, giving a PIREP to Flight Service is much appreciated and they are more than happy to talk.


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