Pilots could now get real-time weather updates on-board a flight. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has finalised a new technology that would deliver a computer generated voice message about wind patterns, type of clouds or major weather systems such as a thunderstorm inside the cockpit every two minutes.
Automated Weather Observation Systems (AWOS) a model widely used in the US would be first available to helicopter pilots operating out of the Juhu aerodrome, said IMD officials.
“We are expecting to start the process at Juhu as a pilot exercise. Depending on the feedback it could be duplicated at big metro airports such as Mumbai,” said Dinesh Gupta, in-charge of IMD airport bureau in Sahar.
Airlines officials said that real-time data would rule out delays caused by unpredictable weather and save airlines costs. “If a pilot knows that he or she could encounter a turbulent weather system such as a cumulonimbus clouds (dark, tall clouds that could cause lighting gusts and hail) the flights path could be altered,” said a senior flight dispatch official with a private airline requesting anonymity.
He added that computer recorded voice data given by the system would be sent to pilots operating in the neighbourhood via the air traffic control (ATC) tower.
Currently, pilots depend heavily on weather forecasts while planning a flight. An airline’s flight planning department, also known as flight dispatch, collects the weather charts available at local weather stations and briefs pilot crew before every journey.
In addition to the METAR charts (a commonly used weather reporting format for pilots) pilots operating from Mumbai also get assistance for weather sensors put up along the runway.