Long-awaited FAA aviation weather cameras could soon be up and running in Hawaii. In November, the agency began engineering surveys required for the installation of the first 10 of 23 planned camera systems there.
Hawaii’s mountainous terrain, rapidly-changing weather conditions, and vexing microclimates often render traditional weather forecasts and reporting of little value. The deficiencies have long been cited as factors in aviation accidents there involving inadvertent entry into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and the resulting loss of control, as well as controlled flight into terrain (CFIT). The NTSB and the state’s helitour industry have long called for a weather camera system similar to those already installed in Alaska and Colorado.
Colorado’s system—installed in partnership with that state’s department of transportation—became operational over the summer using a system of 52 cameras at 13 locations and plans call for the addition of another 10 sites later this year. Alaska’s system, which began installations in 1999 and now uses 235 cameras, continues to expand and the state plans to add 140 cameras.
Nav Canada also operates a system of 215 cameras. The value of the cameras is clear, according to the FAA, whose survey data of Alaska Part 135 operators found that the weather cams had become critical tools in decision making and had cut unnecessary flight hours due to unreliable weather information by 64 percent.