Flight Plan

How Honeywell’s weather radar system saves the day for pilots

Salmanul Farisy | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on January 09, 2018

Neelu Khatri, President, Honeywell Aerospace

Aircraft safety systems provider Honeywell Aerospace, which has to its credit JetWave hardware and the GoDirect Suite of services that assist pilots in flying, has now developed the RDR-4000 3D weather radar system – it uses volumetric 3D scanning and pulse compression technologies for vastly improved weather detection and predictive hazard warnings, providing an intelligent solution to pilots in harsh weather conditions. Neelu Khatri, President, Honeywell Aerospace, India, explains how its new innovation is helping pilots overcome weather-related challenges. Excerpts

How has technology changed over time to address the challenges faced by pilots?

In the past pilots relied on old-school paper charts for getting weather and terrain updates. Today, in the age of Google Maps and driverless cars, pilots should have the power of connectivity at their fingertips. With improved connectivity, pilots can communicate better with on-the-ground air traffic control and flight operators and gain access to technologies that provide an accurate and intuitive view of the weather. Recently developed technologies such as GoDirect Suite, developed in 2016, JetWave (2015) and Intuvue Weather Radar (2008), are helping airlines and aviation companies to integrate software with mechanical components of an aircraft, creating a more streamlined airplane that helps pilots make smarter and faster decisions.

How is Honeywell’s IntuVue RDR-4000 3D weather radar system different? How much training is required for a pilot to use this?

Crowd-sourced weather radar shares real-time data with pilots, be it on domestic or international routes. Only Honeywell’s IntuVue RDR-4000 3D weather radar system has the capabilities to enable Connected Radar. Radar innovations include the use of volumetric 3D scanning and pulse compression technologies that provide weather detection and unique predictive hazard warnings for lightning, hail, wind shear and turbulence. Predictive maintenance means airlines are alerted in advance regarding the failure of a part/engine, thereby virtually eliminating mechanical delays and helping pilots take measures at the earliest.

Is this technology homegrown, or in collaboration with other firms?

IntuVue RDR-4000 3D weather radar is a completely homegrown technology, which belongs to the Honeywell family of advanced weather radar systems. It is the first completely new radar design developed in the past 15 years, and is the only automatic radar that produces a three-dimensional, 180 degree display of weather from the ground up.

Which are the airlines that use this new technology at present?

Air India is using Honeywell’s RDR-4000 3D weather radar system within its international Boeing 777 fleet to get accurate weather updates. Using the system has made a substantial improvement in enabling Air India pilots to see upcoming weather conditions and turbulence via predictive warnings, and take the necessary steps towards earlier weather avoidance. In addition, the weather radar has a cost-effective design, and is 30 per cent lighter than existing systems, saving airlines $10,000 per aircraft a year in fuel costs.

What are the other such technologies used around the world?

Conventional 2D or tilt-based radars can only provide a limited view of the weather, regardless of whether they use manual or auto tilt control. As a result, the pilot does not have an accurate representation of the weather and must use manual tilt control to evaluate storm tops or weather below the aircraft flight level. Compared to the traditional 2D weather radar systems in the market, IntuVue RDR-4000 weather radar represents a significant development in radar technology, and offers the first clean-sheet radar design to be implemented in 30 years.

What exactly is clean-sheet radar design?

Clean-sheet design basically means starting from scratch with a project using a specific concept or requirement and converting that into a working prototype.

Published on January 09, 2018
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