A smoother ride: Delta launches new 3D weather maps to help pilots avoid turbulence

  • The US based airline has been trialling the system since January this year
  • It uses weather data from over 300 aircrafts to map turbulence on routes
  • Pilots plan their journey according to the 3D maps given by the new app 

Turbulence can turn a perfectly pleasant journey into a hellish one in just a matter of seconds but it’s not only passengers who suffer the consequences of this weather phenomenon – it costs airlines millions each year.

In a bid to give its customers a smoother ride, US-based Delta Airlines has launched an app that helps its pilots to avoid turbulence.

The Flight Weather Viewer shows pilots real-time images as well as forecasts so they can plan their journey accordingly.

Delta Airlines has launched a new app that helps their pilots avoid turbulence (file photo)

Delta Airlines has launched a new app that helps their pilots avoid turbulence (file photo)

According to a recent blog post on the company’s website, the app has been tested by pilots since January this year and was officially launched in April.

The company has already installed the technology on its Boeing 737 and 767s.

There are also plans to expand this to the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330, which flies internationally.

The technology, developed in partnership with Basic Commerce and Industries (BCI), uses data from existing sensors installed on over 300 of the airline’s aircrafts.

These sensors detect a number of changes in the environment, such as wind speed and direction.

The pilots see an image similar to the one above, with colour coding to given them an idea of the position and severity of the turbulence

The pilots see an image similar to the one above, with colour coding to given them an idea of the position and severity of the turbulence

The data collated is then fed back into the central system, which maps out and predicts turbulence in colour-coded 3D graphics using the information.  

Pilots using the app are able to plug in their flight route and see any pockets of turbulence ahead and plan any changes in route accordingly.

As the information can be customised according to the aircraft, the information is much more precise than before.

The new technology is a significantly improvement on the existing pre-flight briefing, which can be outdated and subjective according to the post.

Delta hopes that their Flight Weather Viewer will reduce the number of injuries, aircraft damage and carbon footprint due to turbulence.  

HOW DANGEROUS IS TURBULENCE?

On the subject of what happens to an aircraft during an episode of turbulence, Patrick Smith, an active airline pilot and author said: ‘During turbulence, the pilots are not fighting the controls.

‘Planes are designed with what we call positive stability, meaning that when nudged from their original point in space, by their nature they wish to return there.

‘The best way of handling rough air is to effectively ride it out, hands-off. (Some autopilots have a turbulence mode that desensitizes the system, to avoid over-controlling.)

‘It can be uncomfortable, but the jet is not going to flip upside down.’

‘For what it’s worth, thinking back over the whole history of modern commercial aviation, I cannot recall a single jetliner crash caused by turbulence, strictly speaking.

‘Airplanes are engineered to withstand an extreme amount of stress, and the amount of turbulence required to, for instance, tear off a wing, is far beyond anything you’ll ever experience.’






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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