News flashed: “A plane making a second landing attempt in stormy weather crashed at an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, killing 51 people and injuring seven.”
There can be a situation where the weather puts the aircraft at a higher risk of going wrong. Studies reveal that the weather is a primary contributing factor in 23% of all aviation accidents – including both serious and minor – across the globe.
Wherever a plane has been lost in or near a storm there is always speculation about what part the weather might have play. Very powerful storms might be able to seriously damage the wings on a small aircraft though air traffic controllers make great effort to avoid them. Sometimes a build up of ice on the wings can cause problems. Heavy rain or sleet has also been known to cause “flameouts” – where the engine’s flame is extinguished. The engine can usually be restarted by the pilot but not always. It remains very unusual for accidents to be caused by pilots failing to deal with bad weather at high altitudes.
Though Nose-mounted weather radar technology has made it far easier to detect and steer away from dangerous weather conditions but airlines like American and United have begun to give their pilots iPads equipped with specially designed apps. These Apps would speed preparation for takeoff and, reduce paper weight as from fuel loads to passenger and cargo commercial pilots have to do paperwork at each step before a flight can depart.
This app is called Weather Information Service and has been created by aerospace supplier Honeywell. It’s a standalone subscription service that uses on-board data connections to provide real-time rain, clouds, and turbulence forecasts, and current conditions to pilots. It operates independently of any other Honeywell systems, so an airline doesn’t need to be an existing customer to take advantage of it.
The app allows pilots to focus on weather and “really make some sense of it for safety and forecasting,” according to Honeywell’s chief pilot, Joe Duval. “Especially in a situation where you have a longer flight or cross country or over water.” Planning ahead to avoid bad weather helps airlines better stick to schedules, avoid turbulence, and even save fuel.
For many pilots, real-time weather and forecasts are now delivered in a text-based format or through voice updates from a dispatch center. The app, which collects data from a worldwide network of national weather sources (which are then distributed through Honeywell’s data centers), is a subscription offering for airlines looking to upgrade the weather readings their pilots get.
The app is specially designed to work over the extremely limited data connections available on airliners. It also plugs into systems used by airline dispatchers. Pilots can see their planned path, including altitude, and make adjustments before taking off based on anticipated weather, or in midair as conditions change.
Pilots have the ability to look at a forecast in the future and see how a certain storm or system is going to move over time
Also before taking flight you can see your flight plan on the screen and move the forecast into the future and see how a storm might affect your flight plan.
Dispatchers can push alerts to pilots through the app as well, notifying them of significant weather and what to do about it. By combining long-range data with the on-board weather radar that many aircraft carry, pilots can get a good idea of what they’ll be dealing with, and act appropriately.
According to Honeywell similar products could be created for other industries like shipping, rail, or trucking, but the apps would be specially customized to display the information in a familiar and useful way.
Earlier to this Apple and IBM have built an iPad app called Plan Flight that lets commercial pilots estimate fuel usage for upcoming flights.
So that means now pilots in cockpit will be busy with their iPad apps and make technology display the power in rough weather too!