As thunderstorm season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s worth remembering how weather-radar technology has improved in the past three decades. Southern Airways Flight 242, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9, crashed in Pauling County outside Atlanta on April 4, 1977, after flying directly into a severe thunderstorm, calling attention to the then little understood issue of radar signal attenuation in areas of heavy precipitation.
More than a month after October’s Hurricane Sandy, some airports in the Northeast continued to repair the damage left in the “superstorm’s” wake.
Hawthorne Global Aviation Services in New Orleans completed an extensive restoration of its terminal after Lakefront Airport suffered flooding from Hurricane Isaac in September. The $3.5 million facility opened as an FBO in February and Hawthorne acquired it only a month before the storm. Like other service providers on the field, the Hawthorne FBO was forced to relocate to a trailer while the ground floor of the building was gutted and rebuilt.
Hurricane Sandy closed the major New York City metropolitan area airports and forced the cancellation of more than 20,000 flights as it swept the Northeast region of the U.S. last week, leaving widespread flooding in its wake. The Category 1 hurricane, combined with cold fronts from the north and west, also disrupted operations at airports in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Other airports nationwide and internationally felt the ripple effect of the cancellations.
For U.S. Gulf Coast residents history repeated itself at the end of August when Hurricane Isaac struck, seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore and nearly drowned New Orleans. The storm caused the temporary closure of several area airports and forced others to declare “ATC-zero” status due to tower shutdowns or other lapses in contact with ATC.
In the wake of last week’s Hurricane Isaac, operations at Lakefront Airport are slowly returning to normal. According to an airport spokesman, the facility was inundated by up to six feet of water attributable to the storm, which raised the level of Lake Ponchartrain by more than five feet, forcing water up through the airport’s drainage lines.
The airport reopened to VFR traffic last Sunday, and by Tuesday evening runway lights and signage were illuminated again. All navigational aids are expected back on line by tomorrow.
Baron Services’ Mobile Link device can now provide up to four mobile devices with the ability to simultaneously connect to and receive XM WX graphical weather data. This upgrade, part of the free Firmware 2.2 update, is available immediately for current subscribers. Mobile Link allows XM WX Satellite Weather subscribers to display onboard weather data on their mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad, using certain aviation apps.
Essential Flight Technology and NavWorx are teaming to produce portable ADS-B In weather solutions for iOS, Android and Windows devices. With the Pads WxBox solution, pilots will be able to receive subscription-free weather reports and weather radar through Flight Information Service-Broadcast (FIS-B). The Apple iPad version of Pads WxBox from NavWorx is available for pre-order at an introductory price of $795–$100 less than the regular price–through August 1. The first devices are expected to ship by August.
Paulding Northwest Regional Airport near Atlanta was heavily damaged when it was struck by an F-3 tornado on the night of March 2. Among the airport’s casualties was a hangar that partially collapsed, destroying 18 aircraft including a Cessna Citation III. A Learjet 25 that was parked nearby on the ramp escaped with only minor damage. The airport’s main building also suffered structural damage. No one was present at the airfield when the twister hit. According to airport authorities, the storm caused more than $7 million in damage to the aircraft and the facility.
Sporty’s Pilot Shop introduced a wire-free weather receiver for the iPad. Called Stratus, it combines an ADS-B and GPS receiver into a single unit that wirelessly streams Nexrad radar, text weather, TFRs and aircraft position to the ForeFlight Mobile app for iOS devices. The Wi-Fi connection allows multiple iPads to connect to Stratus, making it possible for two-pilot crews to view weather on separate iPads. There are no monthly subscription fees for the weather information, according to Sporty’s. Stratus costs $799.