The NTSB frequently cites weather as a probable cause for many aviation accidents. That factor has been listed so many times for GA crashes (2/3 of the fatal GA accidents were in IMC conditions that the 2014 Most Wanted List included GA weather in the Board’s Top 10. Below is an article announcing the award of a $77 million contract by the FAA to Raytheon Co. to produce faster, more accurate WX information.
Raytheon has been tasked to design and develop weather processing software and hardware which will display predictive and more precise data about all aspects of weather. Based on Raytheon’s experience working on assignments from the FAA, NOAA and the DOD, the company expects to improve the algorithms used to predict where/when weather events may be problematic to aircraft of all varieties. Particularly relevant to GA pilots, the Raytheon performance factors include enhancing the display of this information so that pilots, who are not meteorologists, can accurately interpret the data. All of these improvements will be integrated into the NextGen National Weather Processor.
As Michael Espinola, managing director, Raytheon Air Traffic Systems was quoted as saying:
“Weather is the most disruptive factor in the NAS. Increasing the predictability window by eight hours will allow air traffic specialists to better manage flights and make the most efficient decisions to support the traveling public and business operations…Improving the quality and accuracy of aviation weather data products will significantly improve the efficiency and safety for all stakeholders within the system.”
This contract holds the potential to increase the safety of flights in and around weather. The award should please the NTSB for the action constitutes a significant response by the FAA to the Board’s Most Wanted list.