As the crow flies, the distance between Baltimore and Newark is only about 160 mi. But during the height of thunderstorm season, when lines of towering cumulus march eastward–often erupting into wide, impenetrable walls of rain, turbulence and lightning–the distance can easily double, while travel times can triple.
In conducting a survey about the RDR-4000 weather radar, Honeywell safety specialist Dr. Ratan Khatwa asked more than 50 ATP-rated pilots about their experience with weather radar. The average age of the respondents was 52 years; the average flight time was 12,500 hours. The answers these experienced pilots provided were illuminating.
Radar manufacturers should consider making equipment easier to use and displays easier to interpret, Honeywell safety specialist Dr. Ratan Khatwa told attendees
at this year’s Flight Safety Foundation European Aviation Safety Seminar, held in Bucharest. He added that better weather-radar training can improve pilots’ awareness and decision-making skills and help them avoid penetrating severe meteorological conditions.
The FAA has certified a new airborne weather radar system for the Eclipse 500 developed by the Albuquerque, N.M. very light jet builder with assistance from Japan Radio (JRC) in Tokyo. Eclipse CEO Vern Raburn praised the approval as an example of the company’s ability to develop and certify its own technologies for the Eclipse 500.
Air traffic controllers at the FAA’s 20 contiguous en route centers are now able to see more accurate, timely weather information on the same display that shows aircraft position data, which the agency claims will reduce the potential for weather-related accidents and lessen the effect of weather on airspace efficiency.
More than 100 airlines have selected Rockwell Collins’ multiscan airborne weather radar, billed as the first such system to offer fully automated, “hands-free” scanning capability out to a range of 320 nm. Soon, business jet crews will get the chance to fly with the technology, too.
Mitsubishi MU-2B-40, Bunnell, Fla., Aug. 25, 2006–The NTSB determined that the crash of the MU-2 resulted from an inadvertent encounter with thunderstorms. The commercial pilot, cruising at FL280, had received a sigmet about convective activity. His onboard weather radar was working, and Jacksonville Center was equipped with Nexrad-derived weather displays, which indicated weak to moderate echoes above FL240.
Bringing datalink weather information into the cockpit has never been easier or more affordable. A variety of newly available low-cost terrestrial and satellite uplink services are allowing buyers of relatively inexpensive cockpit multifunction displays to add special receivers and antennas and gain access to continuously updated terminal reports, forecasts, winds aloft, sigmets, airmets and Nexrad radar images.
Arinc Direct yesterday announced that it now offers mobile flight-planning services that pilots can access on Blackberries or other personal wireless devices. The Arinc Direct Mobile service features nearly all the flight-planning functions and features of the company’s existing Web-based portfolio.
Mitsubishi MU-2B-35, Argyle, Fla., Sept. 1, 2006 – The NTSB determined the probable cause of the MU-2 accident to be the pilot’s inadvertent flight into thunderstorm activity that resulted in the loss of control, design limits of the airplane being exceeded and subsequent in-flight breakup.