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Kent Ashton

Nexrad delay can kill you

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Saw this accident below where a Columbia trying to penetrate a line of storms apparently lost control killing the pilot and his daughter.  The interesting thing which the report does not emphasize very strongly, is how the pilot could have been tricked by Nexrad delay.  The report says;

 

"Datalink is not accurate enough or current enough to be safely used for tactical decision making (negotiating a path through a weather hazard area, such as a broken line of thunderstorms). Be aware that onboard weather equipment can inappropriately influence your decision to continue a flight"   http://www.kathrynsreport.com/2017/06/columbia-lc41-550fg-n1058s-fatal.html

 

I recall another accident about a year ago where a pilot was trying to miss a storm he saw on Nexrad.  Apparently he was seeing 5-8 minute old info and flew into a storm which had moved into his path.  In fact, this report says the delay can be as much as 20 minutes.

https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-alerts/Documents/SA_011.pdf

 

My buddy Mark and I talked about this; neither of us was aware that Nexrad could be so slow.  In a former life, my backseater could bring up cells on the radar and keep us out of the worst cells.  Not being a Nexrad user, I had sort of assumed that Nexrad was sort of a poor man's weather radar.  Not so.

 

We know how fast T-storms can build and move around.  I have to think that if the Columbia pilot understood that his Nexrad display could be completely different from what happening in his path, he might turned around.

 

 

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Definitely a 'gotcha!' of modern avionics. Don't be tempted to cut your margins fine just because of the confidence technology gives! And still, nothing beats the Mk1 eyeball...

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