Aug. 19 – Datalink is an industry term used to describe a wide range of equipment and services that all do one basic thing — get data into the cockpit so pilots can use it to make decisions. This is especially the case with weather data, which can now be received, processed, and displayed in a myriad of panel-mounted displays and hand-held devices. Among the types of weather information available with these devices are NEXRAD radar, winds aloft, meteorological reports (METAR) and terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAF), freezing levels, and cloud coverage.
In the July/August 2010 FAA Safety Briefing article, “Do’s and Don’ts for Datalink Weather,” author Meredith Saini warns pilots of some of the pitfalls of today’s high-tech devices. “Pilots must understand the limitations of any datalink weather product before using it to make strategic in-flight decisions,” writes Saini.
In addition to processing delays, NEXRAD data from ground stations can be affected by interference from buildings or terrain. “No matter how many full-color displays you have working for you, it’s still your responsibility to obtain a standard briefing before any flight.”
For more information on how to cope with Mother Nature, go to www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing/.