MEMBER ALERT: AOPA will be closed Wednesday, Jan. 28, from 9:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m.
July 9, 2009
By Thomas A. Horne
NASA announced that it will combine satellite imagery with computer models and artificial intelligence to come up with a system that will be able to warn ocean-going pilots of dangerous thunderstorm-related turbulence. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., is a partner in the project.
The idea is to identify rapidly evolving storms and other potential areas of turbulence. Satellites to be used include NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), Terra, Aqua, and CloudSat satellites. The information from them will be merged with NCAR’s existing expertise in forecasting turbulence around storms, as well as in clear air.
“Our goal is to give pilots a regularly updated picture of the likely storms ahead as they fly over the ocean, so they can take action to minimize turbulence and keep their aircraft out of danger,” said NCAR scientist Cathy Kessinger, a project team manager.
The research project, set to begin tests next year, follows the crash of Air France 447. The Airbus involved in the crash is suspected to have encountered severe turbulence after penetrating thunderstorms off the coast of Brazil.
For a look at some images relating to the prototype turbulence-detection system, see NASA’s Web site.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Only 10 percent of the aircraft excise taxes that Washington aircraft owners pay go to the Washington State Division of Aeronautics, while the other 90 percent go into the general fund. AOPA is advocating for legislation that would direct 100 percent of the tax to aviation use.
A Seattle pilot on a ferry flight from California to Maui deployed his airframe parachute near Hawaii and was videotaped by the Coast Guard.
Piper’s latest edition of the Meridian pressurized turboprop features updated avionics and six seats in club configuration for $2.26 million.
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