UNITED AIRLINES and McDonnell Douglas (MDC) have begun flight tests of a system to display real-time weather information in the cockpit. A three-month in-service trial of a United MDC DC-10, equipped with the cockpit weather-information system (CWIN), is to begin following certification of the equipment.

Tests are being sponsored by NASA Langley and involve a DC-10 already equipped with a prototype electronic-library system, including a touch-screen display, which will present the weather graphics. The trials will determine the operational effectiveness of displaying real-time weather information in the cockpit, including the time and cost savings achieved by avoiding delays and reducing route distances and fuel costs.

CWIN programme manager Jeff Tu says, that information will be formatted by weather services company WSI and sent to Comsat, for broadcast to the DC-10 via Inmarsat communications satellite. Cockpit crew will be able to select between four formats: a mosaic of weather-radar images of the continental USA; lightning-strike data; a terminal-area forecast; and airport surface-weather observations.

The crew will be able to zoom in on a particular area or scroll through the last six sets of data. Weather information will be updated every 15min, but hazards will be communicated to the crew immediately, says Tu.

Source: Flight International