Tuesday, 28 August 2012 10:58
August 28, 2012
For an airline pilot, encountering turbulence or bad weather is just part of the job. They know that not every flight will be smooth but updated radar technology could mean that nervous flyers get an advance warning to hold onto their beverage.
According to USA Today, engineers have been working on a three dimensional radar system that allows pilots to make an informed decision as to the best way to deal with "real weather hazards" such as lightning or hail. Developed by Honeywell, this aviation engineering information technology can be used to predict the weather up to 70 miles in front of the aircraft, allowing the flight crew to make crucial rerouting decisions if required.
Radar currently installed in commercial aircraft only scans in 2-D, with pilots often struggling to accurately interpret any approaching turbulent conditions. The IntuVue 3-D can simplify the task by scanning the vertical limits of a storm and determining whether there are potential hazards that could be avoided. The system is already being installed in military and commercial aircraft, and the technology is seen as a way for pilots to distinguish between false and real weather, something that will come as a source of comfort to flyers who flinch when the seatbelt sign comes back on.
The problems with false weather
"It looks at the airspace in front of the aircraft in three dimensions, which is an improvement over existing radars," says Ratan Khatwa, Honeywell senior chief engineer. "Current radars used by pilots now take only a two-dimensional slice of the atmosphere, the width and length, for instance, of storms crossing an area.It provides information to the flight crew where the real weather hazards such as lightning and hail are which is not available today."
According to figures released by U.S. Department of Transportation, flight delays and cancellations can cost the U.S. economy up to $18 billion per year. Every time a flight crew decides to fly through turbulent conditions, it costs the airline an average of $150,000 and there is the problem of radar signals incorrectly interpreting objects on the ground as part of the weather conditions ahead.
"This new radar upgrade empowers pilots to avoid storm cells that have the potential to produce hail and lightning, spot turbulence earlier, and identify the precise location of heavy rain clouds to maximize passenger comfort and safety," said John Bolton, Honeywell Aerospace.
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