What is PATWAS in Aviation? (Pilot’S Automatic Telephone Weather Answering Service)

In the world of aviation, there are numerous technological advancements that have greatly improved the safety and efficiency of flights. One such innovation is the Pilot’s Automatic Telephone Weather Answering Service, commonly known as PATWAS. This system plays a crucial role in providing real-time weather information to pilots, helping them make informed decisions during flight planning and execution.

What is PATWAS?

PATWAS is an automated weather information service that pilots can access via telephone. It provides current weather reports, forecasts, and other meteorological data necessary for flight planning and in-flight decision-making. This service is available 24/7, allowing pilots to gather up-to-date weather information whenever they need it.

The Functioning of PATWAS

PATWAS operates by utilizing a centralized computer system where weather data is stored. Pilots can access this information by dialing a specific phone number and following the voice prompts. The system is navigated using touch-tone commands, allowing pilots to easily retrieve the desired information.

When accessing PATWAS, pilots are prompted to enter their location, altitude, and desired time of weather information. Based on this input, the system retrieves the most relevant weather reports and provides them to the pilots. This tailored approach ensures that pilots receive accurate and focused weather information for their specific flight parameters.

PATWAS provides a wide range of weather-related information, including current temperature, wind direction and speed, visibility, cloud cover, and precipitation. Additionally, it offers forecasts for the next few hours, as well as longer-term forecasts for planning purposes. This comprehensive data allows pilots to assess the weather conditions along their routes and make informed decisions to ensure safe and efficient flights.

The Benefits of PATWAS

The implementation of PATWAS in aviation has brought numerous benefits to pilots and the industry as a whole. Some of the key advantages include:

  • Enhanced Safety: Access to accurate and real-time weather information enables pilots to avoid hazardous conditions such as thunderstorms, icing, or strong headwinds. By staying informed, pilots can make informed decisions to ensure the safety of their passengers and crew.
  • Efficient Flight Planning: PATWAS helps pilots optimize their flight routes by providing detailed and precise weather forecasts. By taking into account wind patterns, cloud cover, and expected turbulence, pilots can plan for the most fuel-efficient routes, saving both time and resources.
  • Improved Decision-making: With PATWAS, pilots have access to a wealth of meteorological data, allowing them to assess weather conditions at various altitudes and locations. This information is vital for making sound decisions during flight and can help avoid potential delays or diversions.
  • Cost Savings: By utilizing PATWAS, pilots can make informed decisions that optimize fuel consumption. This can lead to significant cost savings for airlines, as fuel often represents a substantial portion of their operating expenses.

History of PATWAS

The concept of an automated weather information service for pilots dates back to the mid-20th century. Before the advent of PATWAS, pilots relied on manual weather briefings provided by meteorologists. While these briefings were helpful, they often involved time-consuming processes that were not always feasible in time-sensitive situations.

The first PATWAS system was implemented in the United States in the late 1970s. It revolutionized the way pilots accessed weather information by providing a convenient and efficient automated service. The initial version of PATWAS used analog voice recordings, which were later replaced by digital recordings for improved sound quality and reliability.

Over the years, PATWAS has continued to evolve, embracing advancements in technology to enhance its functionality and accessibility. The service is now available in various countries worldwide, and many of these systems have been integrated with modern flight management systems, further streamlining the flight planning process.


The Pilot’s Automatic Telephone Weather Answering Service (PATWAS) has proven to be an invaluable tool for pilots in aviation. By providing real-time and accurate weather information, it significantly enhances flight safety, efficiency, and decision-making. With its continuous evolution and integration into modern flight management systems, PATWAS continues to play a vital role in ensuring smooth and safe flights around the world.

For more information about PATWAS and its usage in aviation, please visit FAA.

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