Avionics News October 2016 - 36

WTIC Phases 1 to 4

DID YOU NOTICE...?

Continued from page 35

Three phases of research have been
conducted with a fourth in the works, in
the FAA's NextGen Weather Technology
in the Cockpit program as part of the
FAA's NextGen modernization of the air
traffic control system. A key part of this
modernization is what happens in the
cockpit. Phase 4 is just beginning this
year. Each phase has a different focus:
WTIC Phase I: 2014. This simulator study at WJHTC involved 24
volunteer, instrument-rated, private
pilots, and focused on weather display symbols and their effects on
pilot decision making. This research
showed that different symbols and
colors caused differences in pilot
behavior and decisions. As a result
of these findings, the WTIC team
postulated that cockpit apps could be
developed to track hazardous weather conditions and alert pilots to them.

*

WTIC Phase 2: 2015. This
simulator study involved 60 volunteer instrument-rated pilots and
assessed general aviation pilots'
perception of changes in aviation
routine weather report (METAR)
symbols. The research showed
that different symbols used to present weather information affects
pilots' perception of any changes
and in turn affects pilots' reactions.

*

WTIC Phase 3: 2015. This simulator study involved 70 volunteer private pilots and examined how pilot
behavior is affected by using portable
weather applications. The research
showed that portable weather displays can be used by pilots without degrading decisions and actions
related to the safety of flight. It also
showed that improved situational awareness of weather doesn't
always improve pilot performance
relative to weather challenges.

	

	

	

*

	

*

WTIC Phase 4: 2016. This simulator study will be designed to build
on what is reported in Phase 3. This
phase started in July 2016. q
36

avionics news

*

october

2016

general aviation or business aviation aircraft operators. Helping VFR pilots
avoid flying into IMC by having the right weather information is a high priority.
"Half of general aviation weather-related accidents that result in fatalities are due
to limited visibility," said Gary Pokodner, WTIC program manager. "If we can show
that pilots have a lack of the right weather information, we can fill that gap." Since
graduating from Lehigh University as an electrical engineer, Pokodner worked in
design, reliability, development, test and acquisition of avionics at ARINC for 25
years before joining the FAA in 2011 to work on aviation weather research.
One significant issue that the NextGen WTIC team is addressing is the misunderstanding among pilots about the capabilities and limitations of Next Generation
Weather Radar graphic displays they use in the cockpit.
NEXRAD is a great long-range, strategic planning tool that should be used by
pilots only for avoiding hazardous weather areas such as lines of thunderstorms. The
mistake pilots often make is looking at NEXRAD depictions of storms nearby and
assuming the picture presented is real time. Since it takes time to process NEXRAD
data and then transmit it to the cockpit, the picture a pilot sees can be 5 to 20 minutes old. This is significant because new thunderstorm cells can form in a matter of
minutes and create hazardous conditions.
The WTIC program is working with the Partnership to Enhance General Aviation
Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability, an FAA-sponsored Center of Excellence,
to address the issue of latency in weather graphics displayed in the cockpit. The
PEGASAS group is a consortium of aviation universities that performs general aviation research under an overall FAA grant.
PEGASAS is developing a latency trainer, a table-top device to train pilots on this
critical safety subject. The trainer will be used in the Weather Information Latency
Demonstration research project to examine how latencies in the display of weather
information affect a general aviation pilot's ability to detect important weather
events, plan a response and avoid hazardous conditions. In addition, vendors that
manufacture flight training devices, including flight simulators, may incorporate
WILD concepts into their designs.
The WILD trainer has the capability to provide latency of any time interval specified to enable demonstration of the potential hazards.
Since thunderstorms can build rapidly, using NEXRAD to navigate near storms
can lead to a fatal encounter with a cumulonimbus cloud. WTIC researchers also
have found that few pilots can accurately judge how far they are away from that
cloud even when they can see it. What can be seen out the windscreen may be a lot
closer than it appears. In fact, pilots are often only 5 miles from a storm cloud when
they think they are safe at 20 miles or more away. "There are no markers in a cloud
to tell you how far you are away from it," Johnson said.
Research findings may lead to better displays
Most VFR pilots who don't have an instrument rating know that stumbling into
the clouds or a fog can lead to a loss-of-control accident that could have fatal consequences. Anything in the cockpit that warns a pilot of weather changing from VFR
to IFR ahead could be a lifesaver.
The WTIC team is working closely with Ulf Ahlstrom, an FAA NextGen
engineering research psychologist, who designed the VFR into IMC experiments.
Ahlstrom, who served as principal investigator, works at the WJHTC cockpit simulator center, which has five simulators modeling general aviation, piston-powered
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Avionics News October 2016

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Avionics News October 2016 - Intro
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Avionics News October 2016 - Cover2
Avionics News October 2016 - 1
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Avionics News October 2016 - Cover4
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