New Radar Technology Will Help Pilots Fly The Unfriendly Skies Easier

Posted at 12:31 PM, Aug 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-16 12:34:19-04

Weather technology is constantly changing.  From forecast models to radar systems, improvements in technology are helping meteorologists and others in the weather community make important life-saving decisions.  Doppler radar, in fact, continues to improve with dual-polarization (dual-pol) technology, helping forecasters track and specifically identify what type of precipitation is falling from the sky.  In other words, is it rain or is it snow?  Dual-pol is making it easier for us to see what type of weather people should be prepared for on the ground.  But by air, that’s been a different story.

Pilots have typically depended on conventional 2-D radar systems to analyze an approaching storm.  However, new radar technology is expected to help pilots make better decisions when the skies aren’t so friendly.

USA Today and ABC News have some great information about a new 3-D radar system developed by Honeywell that will help pilots spot not only turbulence but also lightning and hail from as far away as 60 to 70 miles.  According to USA Today, IntuVue 3-D radar can scan up to 60,000 feet high in front of an aircraft, allowing pilots to see storms better and be more aware of storms that are producing potentially violent weather.  With this technology, pilots will be able to avoid certain storms and keep passengers as safe as possible.  Conventional radars typically identify only precipitation for flight crews.  In addition, older radars make it difficult for pilots to see the top and bottom of a storm.  IntuVue 3-D radar is changing that.

The radar is already installed in some business, military, and commercial aircraft.  In fact, Southwest Airlines has the radar in 19 of its planes according to ABC News.  It’s hoped that this new technology will help pilots make wiser decisions to cut down on weather delays, minimize in-flight injuries, and keep passengers as safe as possible during turbulent weather.