Warm Weather Hazards

Warm Weather Hazards

  • May
  • 02
  • 2023
  • Advanced Aircrew Academy

Many of our customers enroll in a Warm Weather Hazards (Weather Radar) online training module each spring. A review of the hazards associated with thunderstorms, tornadoes, turbulence, lightning, hail, downbursts, and windshear sharpen our risk management and decision making skills for summer flying.

Our training includes a review of the NTSB preliminary report of a fatal King Air accident that occurred February 2023 in Little Rock, AR. Other aviation training organizations that only publish updates to their eLearning every 18-24 months miss out on the opportunity to use current accident examples like this to stimulate thought and discussion to refine mitigation strategies.

We recommend saving the NTSB report and using it as a discussion tool at your next pilot meeting or on your next flight. Following are some discussion points we include in our training.

ATIS included a Low-Level Wind Shear (LLWS) alert, and both ground and tower transmitted LLWS advisory alerts within two minutes prior to the aircraft being cleared for takeoff. If an LLWS alert is issued while you taxi out or on approach to land with convective activity in the area, what criteria do you use to decide to continue or change your plan?

  • Do you update takeoff or landing performance numbers based on any adjustments you make to aircraft speeds?
  • Considering the delay of datalink weather radar, how close can a thunderstorm be displayed to the airport before you delay departure or arrival?
  • What techniques do you use with your onboard weather radar to evaluate storms when you are near or on the ground? Do you have limits on how close to the airport a certain intensity level of precipitation may be before you will delay departure or arrival?

From a human factors perspective, the NASA paper "An Assessment of Thunderstorm Penetrations and Deviations by Commercial Aircraft in the Terminal Area" provides insight to when we are more likely to penetrate convective weather. Those reasons are when we are:

  • near the destination airport rather than farther away
  • following another aircraft
  • more than 15 minutes behind schedule
  • flying after dark

Stay alert and be on the lookout for planned continuation bias and use this time on the ground to review company rules or come up with personal limits on operating near convective activity. Having established limits well-ingrained through recurrent training can improve our decision making during high workload phases of flight.