Predicting the weather is a little like trying to pick up Jell-O before it sets. There are a lot of molecules up there, all interacting in less than predictable ways. It is a little surprising, then, that the head of one of the world’s foremost weather-data specialists says forecast accuracy is about to see vast improvements over and above what today’s computer modeling is capable of generating.
Using a new Web-based tool, operators who typically fly below Class A airspace can now obtain icing forecasts up to 12 hours in advance of their flight. The FAA tool provides a color weather map and a flight route display of icing potential from 3,000 to 18,000 feet. The user can select forecast times from three-, six-, nine-, and 12-hour intervals to help plan their routes.
A new NASA study claims that man-made cirrus clouds formed by commercial jet engine exhaust might be responsible for increased surface temperatures detected in the U.S. between 1975 and 1994.
Climate data shows that cirrus cloud cover over the U.S. has increased by 1 percent per decade, and the report says the rise is likely due to commercial air traffic.
Operators of all U.S.-registered Challenger 600s, 601s and 604s and Canadair Regional Jets, which are derived from the business jet, must incorporate flight manual revisions to ensure that before takeoff the “wing leading edge and upper wing surface are completely free of ice, frost, snow or slush,” under a new AD. The FAA directive (AD 2005-04-07) followed an identical AD from Transport Canada.
Bell 206B3, Atlantic City, Wyo., Aug. 23, 2004–The Hawkins and Powers Aviation pilot was filming and had completed a “high groundspeed” pass when he encountered what he called wind shear and a “15- to 20-knot tailwind” while maneuvering close to the ground. The helicopter did not respond to control inputs and crashed, rolling over, crushing the forward fuselage and substantially damaging the helicopter.
CESSNA 208, PARKS, ARIZ., NOV. 8, 2002–At approximately 10:20 a.m. (MST) a Cessna 208B (N514DB), operated by Brown County Financial Services, LLC, of Snyder, Texas, was destroyed when it crashed approximately three miles south of Parks, Ariz., about 16 nm northwest of Flagstaff. The commercial pilot, a private-pilot-rated passenger and two other passengers were killed.
NASA researchers are seeking to bring better weather information to pilots and controllers by converting a fleet of regional turboprop airliners for service as flying weather reporting stations.
Researchers from the U.S., Canada, Britain and France are participating in a major aircraft icing study taking place this winter primarily in the Montreal area. Canada’s National Research Council is leading the Alliance Icing Research Study with its Convair CV-580 in partnership with NASA’s DHC-6 Twin Otter.
Archie Trammell, former magazine editor turned radar and convective weather expert, has added a bimonthly online magazine to supplement his long-running radar seminars. The new publication, at www.radar4pilots.com, contains references to weather research studies and articles.
While Quest Aircraft’s brawny high-wing all-metal utility turboprop didn’t achieve FAA certification by the end of last year as the company had hoped, the program continues on the path to approval in the first quarter of this year. By mid-December, the prototype had logged nearly 600 hours of flight testing.