Airplane Radar Gives Pilots Sight to Stormy Skies
September 05, 2014
Over the past few years, hazardous weather has taken its toll on the airline industry. According to the Department of Transportation, inclement weather accounts for an estimated $3 billion nationally in aviation accident damage and injuries, delays, and unexpected operating costs due to lightning, hail, and other severe weather.
In the U.S., the National Climatic Data Center estimates that the number of severe weather/climate events that cost the United States government over $1 billion has been steadily rising since 1980.
This rise in inclement weather means that airlines are bracing for more hazardous issues and pilots are turning to next generation cockpit technologies to keep them safe. Honeywell is a leader in weather radar and predictive systems, which arm pilots with the information necessary to make better weather-related decisions – like predicting hail and lightning to help avoid turbulence – all aimed at making air travel more cost-effective and safer.
Importance of Weather Radar
The impact of weather and turbulence on airlines and passengers is significant. Honeywell pioneered the IntuVue 3-D weather radar, which is the first and only weather radar with a complete 3-D picture of airborne weather conditions. Over 70 airlines around the globe have installed IntuVue.
A recent article (and video) about the benefits of the weather radar system was discussed in the Chicago Tribune.
Southwest Airlines Capt. Bill Lusk, manager of daily operations for the carrier, told the Tribune that the technology “keeps both pilots in the game by lessening the fine-tuning that you would be doing manually to understand the complete picture of the weather.”
NBC news in Dallas also reported that “the breakthrough technology could mean safer skies for pilots and smoother rides for passengers.” The broadcast story showcases the demonstration of IntuVue onboard.
“’The IntuVue model RDR-4000 3-D radar on the Honeywell test plane scans the weather every 30 seconds to provide pilots with immediate information,’” said Jeff Hester, a technical sales manager at Honeywell. It is rated to probe as far as about 370 miles straight ahead to show the en route weather picture, detect turbulence and predict lightning and hail, as well as automatically scan from the ground up to 60,000 feet to provide information targeted at various altitudes.”
Overall, IntuVue has demonstrated more than a 50 percent reduction in turbulence-related incidents, compared with conventional weather radar and a 26 percent improvement in weather avoidance and enhanced pilot decision-making.
Honeywell is continually developing safety solutions to ensure that pilots have the best possible technology at hand. For example, high altitude ice detection and weather information networks are some of the technologies being tested.