WxWorx QuikLink service brings weather data to PCs

 - September 28, 2010, 11:32 AM

Pilots who like the XM satellite weather products WxWorx delivers to cockpit displays might like to access the same weather products on their office or portable computers. WxWorx has released the new WxWorx Online QuikLink subscription service so pilots can do just that. Like the airborne products, the QuikLink online service comes in three sizes and monthly fees, Wings ($14.99), Wings Plus ($24.99) and Wings Elite ($49.99).

The Wings Elite package comes with all of the WxWorx products, including Nexrad radar, Metars/Tafs, city forecasts, lightning, satellite imagery, airmets/sigmets, aireps/pireps and Canadian radar, winds aloft, weather warnings and convective outlook.

QuikLink runs on WxWorx software, which is currently available only on Windows PC computers. WxWorx is compatible with NMEA-standard GPS receivers. The WxWorx software download is free.

QuikLink weather data is displayed on a high-resolution topographic map of the U.S. and Canada, zoomable down to a one-mile range. The topographic display can be toggled on and off, as can other features such as airways, airports, navaids and all the varieties of weather data. The best feature of QuikLink is the access it provides for a big-picture look at the weather for most of North America. The user can also input a flight plan and view that on the map, then zoom down to specific areas to view more detailed weather along the route.

While the map does allow the user to pan, the panning feature needs more work. To pan, the user must first click on the pan tool in the toolbar, then click back on the map and slide the map. Once the user clicks on the map, the panning tool works only once. To pan again, the user has to click back onto the panning tool in the toolbar then back on the map. This is annoying for users accustomed to clicking and holding the mouse button while panning in other programs such as Google Maps, and it needs to be fixed in subsequent versions. It’s especially difficult when zoomed on a particular area because, at least on my computer, the map didn’t keep up with the movement of the mouse, so I couldn’t tell how far the map was panning and where to let up on the mouse to stop the panning.

The Metar view makes it easy to look at a particular area and get an idea of the weather. Each airport’s Metar is color-coded to indicate VFR to low IFR conditions and shows a shaded circle for cloud cover. Clicking on the Metar pops up a box with translated weather conditions for that airport.

The icing products are also useful, allowing views of icing conditions and forecasts at 3,000-foot intervals. It’s neat to scroll up and down through the altitude increments and watch how the icing picture develops. The same increments work in many of the other weather products, including turbulence, aireps/pireps and wind aloft.

Having the aireps/pireps coded by altitude is a useful feature, saving the viewer tons of time not spent looking at reports that aren’t applicable. Clicking on the airep/pirep symbol pops up a box containing the information from the report.

The user can save views of the weather map, with whatever layers of products are selected, for later review or training.