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Honeywell helps pilots avoid storms

August 20, 2012, 02:09 pm

Honeywell recently debuted new updates to its IntuVue 3-D Weather Radar that help pilots foresee upcoming storms and turbulence.

The company said the new updates allow pilots to detect turbulence, hail and lightining up to 10 minutes before they hit the pilot's flight path.

"Until now, aircraft damage and unstable flights resulting from hail and lightning were problems airlines and passengers had to accept," said John Bolton, president of air transport and regional, Honeywell Aerospace. "This new radar upgrade empowers pilots to avoid storm cells that have the potential to produce hail and lightning, spot turbulence earlier, and identify the precise location of heavy rain clouds to maximize passenger comfort and safety."

In the past, pilots had trouble anticipating when and where storm cells were going to hit. The new technology will keep flights coming in on time, make passengers safer and more comfortable, and may prevent potential damage to the aircraft.

Bad weather accounts for nearly 70 percent of all delays, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, costing the U.S. economy more than $18 billion in 2008. In addition, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that, on average, damage obtained to a flight from bad weather cost airlines nearly $200,000 each incident.

The benefits of the technology don't stop there - flight crews are now given more time to focus on safety.

"The IntuVue was designed from the ground up to provide pilots with superior information about the location of true weather threats, such as hail and lightning, relative to their aircraft," said  Ratan Khatwa, senior chief engineer of human factors, Honeywell Aerospace. "The much-simplified weather information and radar operation results in reduced pilot workload levels compared to other radar systems, thus allowing the flight crew to focus on flying the aircraft safely."

Honeywell also recently developed a new flight management software that allows pilots to change altitude on long overwater flights, helping them with more efficient approaches to the runway, saving airliners millions in fuel costs, The New York Times reported. 

The current system doesn't allow pilots to change the predetermined flight path because there is no radar coverage, making it impossible for controllers to locate planes. Honeywell test pilot Markus Johnson says the new technology allows pilots to ascend and descend, depending on winds, by melding position data broadcast by planes with the automated flight control commands.  The FAA approved the system, which has experts estimating a 3 percent savings on fuel costs, the source reported.

Pilots should always consider pilot life insurance, no matter the technological advancements.

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