Traditional radar systems only look at one slice of space at once, making it hard to know without recalculating the radar if there’s a storm above or below one’s current position. Older systems can also be confused by the curvature of the planet, requiring more calculations and more adjustments from the pilot.
Honeywell’s IntuVue 3D weather radar analyzes data from 17 different angled “slices” of space at once, showing all of the weather that’s in front of the plane, from the ground all the way to 60,000 feet.
“At the end of the day, from a pilot’s perspective [the new system] is a simpler radar to use. You can turn it on, not fool with it, and get what you need,” says Bill Lusk, a pilot and manager of daily operations for Southwest Airlines, which has started to use the newest version of the IntuVue systems in its 737s. “Makes it simpler to determine the route you need while doing less work.”
The new technology should make planes safer and also reduce weather-related delays, as airlines will be able to fly in bad weather more confidently and plan better routes.