Tuesday, January 6, 2015

EXCLUSIVE! Opinion Navigating Weather Disturbances To Reduce Air Travel Delays (and Passenger Frustration!)

By Arijit Ghosh, President, Honeywell Aerospace India

India’s Prominence as an Air Traffic Market Grows
The IATA published a report placing India as the third largest aviation market by 2031, jumping six places and overtaking the United Kingdom. This surge in air traffic will bring positives such as increased tourism, more jobs and economic stimulation, but it will also put added pressure on India’s already challenged air traffic management system, potentially leading to delays and higher costs for airports and airlines. With the unpredictability of India’s weather, especially during monsoon season, delays can make travelling in India a headache for passengers and a money pit for airlines. 

The weather problem is not limited to India. Around the world, airlines continue to struggle with challenges due to shifting weather conditions. In fact, inclement weather is the single largest contributor to delays and a major risk to passengers and personnel on board, as well as damaging to the aircraft itself.

Weather Radar to the Rescue
All of these factors have prompted many airlines and the aircraft manufacturers they buy from to re-evaluate the systems aboard their aircraft and adopt next-generation cockpit technologies that ensure greater reliability and safety. These include systems like advanced, predictive weather radar, which arm pilots with the information necessary to make better weather-related decisions – like predicting hail and lightning and avoiding turbulence.

With over a century of aviation leadership and experience, Honeywell Aerospace has worked on ways to help pilots navigate through bad weather since commercial flight first hit the mainstream. The company brought the world’s first commercial weather radar, the Bendix RDR-1, to market in 1954. Now, sixty years later, the latest iteration of that technology, the IntuVue RDR-4000, is ensuring that pilots can safely fly around weather disturbances across India and around the world.

Bringing another Dimension to Weather Safety
Traditionally, radar has presented pilots with a 2-D representation of the weather. This shows them what bad weather may be ahead, but it cannot show them how high storm cells are and where the peaks intersect the flight path. Honeywell created its IntuVue 3-D weather radar system to tackle this problem, giving pilots access to one of the most advanced weather hazard detection and avoidance systems available. It gives them a full, de-cluttered view of storms above, below and around the aircraft up to 320 nautical miles away and from ground to 60,000ft. This allows pilots to see potentially hazardous weather sooner, and make decisions to re-route and avoid possible damage to the aircraft or injury to, and discomfort for, their passengers.

The IntuVue weather radar uses 3D volumetric scanning pulse compression technologies to provide a complete view of surrounding weather, and is proven to reduce turbulence-related incidents by more than 45 percent. IntuVue’s weather analysis tools help pilots better understand weather hazards and calculate the best strategic and tactical responses.

The unique display capability combines both weather and terrain data to provide a more intuitive horizontal and virtual view of upcoming weather dynamics – reducing or eliminating unnecessary route deviations. Pilots can select individual slices of the airspace to make more informed routing and manoeuvring decisions.

Predicting Where Lightning Might Strike
Honeywell’s IntuVue 3-D weather radar system is also able to predict what storms may have the capability to generate hail and lightning with a 93 percent accuracy, and alert pilots to the risk of turbulence as much as five to ten minutes before the aircraft intersects the storm cell at cruise speed. With up to 60nm of range, the technology has one of the longest turbulence detection ranges in the industry. This allows the pilots to re-route around the potentially dangerous storm sooner or, if this is not possible, give the crew more time to prepare the cabin -- vital during high workload phases such as cabin service.

Helping Airlines in India to keep Passengers Safe and Happy

The impact of weather and turbulence on airlines and passengers is significant. With technologies such as Honeywell IntuVue 3-D weather radar, airlines worldwide can increase safety, reduce weather-related delays and lower costs simultaneously. With India’s ambitious aviation growth expectations, advanced safety systems including weather radar are central to modernizing fleets and enabling pilots to make informed decisions, which will help to reduce fuel consumption, improve safety and facilitate more on-time arrivals, regardless of the forecast outside.

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