Avionics News October 2016 - 34

industry

DID YOU NOTICE YOUR
DESTINATION AIRPORT

JUST WENT IFR?
B Y

D A V I D

H U G H E S ,

F A A

N E X T G E N

I

t is all too easy for general aviation pilots to overlook key
cockpit-displayed weather information if the presentation
isn't obvious enough. Federal Aviation Administration human factors engineers are trying to shed light on how cockpit or portable display technologies might convey vital weather
information more effectively to pilots.
Ian Johnson is a human factors researcher in the FAA's
NextGen Aviation Weather Division's Weather Technology in
the Cockpit program. When he flies a simulator at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey,
to show how this research is being conducted, he sees the same
weather displays in the cockpit encountered by private pilot

Gary Pokodner is the FAA's Weather Technology in the Cockpit
program manager.

34

avionics news

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october

2016

O U T R E A C H

A N D

R E P O R T I N G

volunteers who participate in the WTIC simulator studies. The
research effort is now in its fourth phase (see WTIC Phases 1 to
4 on page 36). Johnson began working on the program one year
after its 2008 launch. Some of the experiments have involved 60
to 90 general aviation pilots.
Accurate, high-resolution, rapidly updated weather is now a
reality in the cockpit for general aviation pilots, but how effectively can a pilot absorb and use this information? This is one of
the research questions being addressed by the FAA's NextGen
WTIC program. The research aims to recommend, but not require,
a minimum performance for weather displays so that pilots have
sufficient, accurate information that is effectively displayed to
support consistent and safe weather-related decision making.
The WTIC program does not plan to establish standards and
only aims to provide guidance on ways to enhance cockpit display of weather information to improve pilot recognition. There
will be a number of ways to reduce any information gaps in the
cockpit and to achieve the desired level of performance so pilots
will be more likely to realize when key weather information is
changing. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Weather information that is easy to miss
Today, Johnson is cruising along at 3,500 feet, demonstrating
how a VFR pilot sees important weather information on glass
cockpit displays. The focus is on METAR symbols that change
color when the destination airport goes from VFR to IFR conditions. The METAR acronym roughly translates from the French
as Aviation Routine Weather Report, and this type of weather
observation is taken at the end of each hour. This is vital information for VFR-only pilots who do not want to fly into clouds or



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News October 2016

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Avionics News October 2016 - Intro
Avionics News October 2016 - No label
Avionics News October 2016 - Cover2
Avionics News October 2016 - 1
Avionics News October 2016 - 2
Avionics News October 2016 - 3
Avionics News October 2016 - 4
Avionics News October 2016 - 5
Avionics News October 2016 - 6
Avionics News October 2016 - 7
Avionics News October 2016 - 8
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Avionics News October 2016 - 34
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Avionics News October 2016 - 38
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Avionics News October 2016 - 80
Avionics News October 2016 - Cover3
Avionics News October 2016 - Cover4
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