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Abstract

Flying into hazardous weather can be a cause of aviation incidents and accidents. Accidents involving general aviation (GA) pilots who are not instrument rated who fly into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) are often fatal. Pilot weather reports (PIREPs) can increase the accuracy and timeliness of current and forecasted weather conditions. They are an essential tool used by pilots to avoid flying into hazardous weather as well as meteorologists to develop and update aviation forecasts. Thus, a large number of accurate PIREPs with the best source of current weather coming from pilots and air traffic controllers are needed. Pilots are often unable to make PIREPs because of workload in the cockpit or because it is cumbersome to leave the air traffic control (ATC) frequency to contact flight the flight service station (FSS). Currently, air traffic controllers must solicit and disseminate PIREPs. However, air traffic controllers’ primary obligation is to provide traffic separation and traffic alerts. During poor weather, when PIREPs are needed the most, controllers are often too busy to solicit and disseminate PIREPs (NTSB, 2017a). This study administered a descriptive survey to inquire about how likely pilots would be to use a speech recognition system (SRS) to transcribe and submit PIREPs automatically while flying in three distinct flight regimes: instrument flight rules (IFR), visual flight rules (VFR) with flight following, and VFR without flight following. The survey employed cross-section design and included Likert scale questions. For each flight regime, additional information was obtained through an open-ended follow-up question. The Likert scale responses indicated that pilots were neutral about using a SRS to transcribe and submit PIREPs in each flight regime.Spradley’s (1979) domain analysis was used to identify common themes and patterns from the open-ended responses. Major findings from flying IFR were that pilots found it easier to speak directly to air traffic control, or pilots were too busy to submit PIREPs while flying IFR. Major findings from flying VFR with flight following were that pilots thought it was easier to report PIREPs directly to air traffic control or to a flight service station, and it was more accurate to report PIREPs directly to an aviation professional. However, they were willing to try a SRS. Major findings from flying VFR without flight following were that pilots wanted the opportunity to review a PIREP submission for accuracy and were willing to try the system. Significant differences were determined by making a comparison between the three groups.

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