In-flight Internet puts NEXRAD at a pilot’s fingertips

Do pilots have any need for in-flight connectivity? It’s a question I‘ve asked before. But the answer, it seems, is quite simply, yes!

Last night I received an email from a pilot, whose friend flew a Gogo-equipped Boeing 767-200 from LAX to MIA. The pilot was able to log on to the Internet, go to the DUATS web site, and view the current NEXRAD radar map from present position (over Texas at the time) all the way to destination in near-real-time (NEXRAD updates about every 5 minutes).  

This is exactly the type of weather product that could enhance safety of flight by being connected.

Airborne weather radar is limited to about 150 miles or so range at typical jet cruising altitudes, because of the curvature of the earth. By being able to view current radar downrange – as well as 24hr forecasts – longer-term planning for routing and weather avoidance is greatly enhanced.  

Here’s what some NEXRAD radar and satellite pictures look like. Now tell me this wouldn’t be helpful in-flight.

Map 1.JPG
Map 2.JPG

, , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to In-flight Internet puts NEXRAD at a pilot’s fingertips

  1. Patrick Flannigan July 21, 2009 at 9:41 am #

    Once you get used to Nexrad it’s really hard to go back. But you’ve got to be careful, that five minute delay can be enough to trick you into flying through a bad deal!

  2. Mary Kirby July 21, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    I just jumped into the DUATS site for the first time – awesome!

  3. Matt July 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Remember that for part 121 operations (airlines), that the dispatcher must be included in all weather information received in the cockpit. Also any weather referenced by the crew must be QICP approved (Qualified Internet Communication Provider).

    121.601 Aircraft dispatcher information to pilot in command: Domestic and flag operations.

    (a) The aircraft dispatcher shall provide the pilot in command all available current reports or information on airport conditions and irregularities of navigation facilities that may affect the safety of the flight.

    (b) Before beginning a flight, the aircraft dispatcher shall provide the pilot in command with all available weather reports and forecasts of weather phenomena that may affect the safety of flight, including adverse weather phenomena, such as clear air turbulence, thunderstorms, and low altitude wind shear, for each route to be flown and each airport to be used.

    (c) During a flight, the aircraft dispatcher shall provide the pilot in command any additional available information of meteorological conditions (including adverse weather phenomena, such as clear air turbulence, thunderstorms, and low altitude wind shear), and irregularities of facilities and services that may affect the safety of the flight.