Weather Technology in the Cockpit

The Weather Technology in the Cockpit (WTIC) program is an FAA weather research program. It develops minimum weather service recommendations for cockpit weather information and its rendering, pilot weather training, and cockpit weather technology for incorporation into standards, guidance documents, training materials, and technical transfer or government agencies for implementation.

Please refer to the caption following the image
Dr. Ian Johnson flies a Beech 350 simulator at the Cockpit Simulation Center at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, N.J. Johnson is a human factors researcher in the FAA Aviation Weather Division's Weather Technology in the Cockpit program.

The WTIC program researches ways to improve:

  • Cockpit weather information and its rendering
  • Pilot understanding and interpretation of cockpit weather information and technologies
  • Weather information training
  • Operational efficiency and safety by resolving cockpit weather-related gaps in information and technology.

The recommendations developed by WTIC research are referred to in the WTIC program as "Minimum Weather Services" for Part 91 and for Part 121/135 aircraft.

The WTIC program investigates the quality (accuracy, latency, spatial resolution, and others) of weather information available in the cockpit, how the weather information is presented or integrated, and what information is insufficient or missing. Types of adverse weather include: convection, lowered ceilings and visibility, icing, and turbulence.

Please refer to the caption following the image
A display from the WTIC program's active reminder technology shows a storm cell.

WTIC research will develop, verify, and validate a set of Minimum Weather Service recommendations for FAR parts 91 (general aviation aircraft), 121 (commercial aircraft), and 135 (business aircraft) to address information shortfalls and enhance pilot weather decision-making in advance of encountering potentially hazardous weather conditions.

Supplemental Materials

  1. ATCA Bulletin story on WTIC
  2. Gap areas identified by PEGASUS
  3. AOPA story on skills gap
  4. General Aviation Research
  5. Symbol Salience Augments Change-Detection Performance in Cockpit Weather Displays. (DOT/FAA/TC-19/31). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  6. General Aviation Pilot Situation Assessment and Decision-Making During Flights in Deteriorating Visibility Conditions. (DOT/FAA/TC-19/32). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  7. Assessments of Flight and Weather Conditions during General Aviation Operations. (DOT/FAA/TC-19/33). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  8. The effect of weather state-change notifications on general aviation pilots' behavior, cognitive engagement, and weather situation awareness (DOT/FAA/TC-15/64). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  9. Initial assessment of portable weather presentations for general aviation pilots (DOT/FAA/TC-15/42). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  10. Now you see me, now you don't: Change blindness in pilot perception of weather symbology (DOT/FAA/TC-14/16). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  11. Ahlstrom, U., & Dworsky, M. (2012). Effects of weather presentation symbology on general aviation pilot behavior, workload, and visual scanning (DOT/FAA/TC-12/55). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  12. Assessments of the Visual Flight Rules Not Recommended Statement (DOT/FAA/TC-19/45). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center.
  13. Combined Report: Aviation Weather Knowledge Assessment & General Aviation (GA) Pilots' Interpretation of Weather Products.
    Abstract: Prior research has indicated that general aviation pilots may lack adequate knowledge of aviation weather concepts and skill at interpreting aviation weather displays. Therefore, the purpose of the current project was to develop and validate a comprehensive set of aviation weather knowledge and interpretation multiple-choice questions, and in turn, to use the questions to assess pilot understanding of aviation weather concepts and displays. An interdisciplinary research team of two meteorologists, one Gold Seal certificated flight instructor, a human factors psychologist, and several human factors graduate students performed this research.
  14. Meteorological and Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) Data Link Services Application Study
    Abstract: Delivery of meteorological (MET) and Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) information to the cockpit via data link is an evolving technology. In response to discussions with personnel in the Federal Aviation Administration, the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) studied incidents citing the use of MET and AIS data link services or applications. ASRS analyzed and codified information from data link end-users as reported in ASRS incidents received. The objectives of this study were to: (A) Understand when and how data link services are used; (B) Understand issues related to the accuracy and timeliness of weather data link services; and (C) Understand human factors relating to the use and integration of data link services. To obtain a copy of this report, contact Dr. Ian Johnson.
  15. Adapting Research Methodology in the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Abstract: In March 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic started to affect every aspect of our lives. Thus, federal research agencies, along with so many other business entities, were forced to cease operations or adapt to the constraints imposed due to the pandemic. In February 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Weather Technology in the Cockpit (WTIC) program was in the late stages of planning an activity that focused on crowdsourcing Alaskan aviation weather-camera information. The study intended to identify specific aspects of aviation weather-camera information such as obscurations, flight obstacles, and isolated areas of low visibility, which may be crowdsourced and is of value to pilots during flight operations. However, the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 disrupted the original plan to begin the evaluation in late March at the William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC) Cockpit Simulation Facility (CSF) and FAA facilities in Alaska. This document describes how the Crowdsource Aviation Weather Camera study adapted to the challenges of conducting this study in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the adjustments that were made in order to proceed with data collection and the lessons learned for future efforts.
  16. An Assessment of Time-Based Active Reminders on Weather Related Behavior and Decision Making of General Aviation Pilots
    Objective: We investigated pilot weather assessments and pilot ability to assess the out-the-window visibility. Specifically, we assessed the impact of a time-based active reminder on pilot decision-making. The active reminder indicated the amount of time in which a pilot might encroach within 20 miles of severe weather along their route.
    Background: In a previous study, the WTIC group evaluated a distance-based active reminder to indicate pilot proximity to severe weather. Method: Fifty private pilots participated in the study. The pilots were randomly allocated to either the 10 nm or 20 nm active reminder condition to fly in a scenario with degrading visibility conditions.
    Results: We found no important differences between the AR10 and AR20 groups with regards to aircraft altitude, AWOS usage, distance-to-weather, flight decision-making, and the ability of pilots to provide forward visibility estimates. This result implies that the difference in lead-time (i.e., 10 versus 20 miles) did not affect the flying behavior of pilots. Both pilot groups flew equally close to hazardous weather cells (i.e., ≥ 30 dBZ precipitation cells) with a mean distance-to-weather of 9.93 to 17.2 miles (95% HDIs). Even more striking, comparing the present distance-to-weather results with the distance-to-weather data from the Ahlstrom et al. (2019a) study showed that a time-based AR yield a much larger intra-group dispersion (e.g., SD) of the distance-to-weather data, expressed as a greater variability among pilots with regards to how closely they flew to hazardous weather cells.

Links to Training:

  1. Experiential Education Latency Module
  2. Experiential Education Visibility Module
  3. Enhancing Pilot Knowledge of Aviation Weather Course. This course will focus on key takeaways from WTIC research and provide insight on cockpit weather information and weather decision-making that impact pilots in flight.
  4. Enhancing Pilot Knowledge of Aviation Weather Course: Weather Technology in The Cockpit (WTIC) FAA NextGen Weather Research Program
    Course Description: This session is intended for flight instructors to highlight weather knowledge areas that have been identified as lacking by pilots, to enhance instructor ability to teach aviation weather, and to provide information on new weather products including their limitations and enhanced benefits.
  5. WeatherXplore Application. The WeatherXplore Application was derived from research sponsored and funded by the Weather Technology in the Cockpit (WTIC) program. Connect digital content with aviation educational material to complement FAA Aviation Weather Services Advisory Circular AC 0045-H change 1 and the FAA Aviation Weather Advisory Circular AC- 06B to aid in the correlation of weather subjects.
  6. 10 Weather Mini-Lessons: WeatherXplore ten short, free weather mini-lessons are based on real-world weather scenarios that are light, fun, take less than 15 minutes to watch, and cover topics such as density altitude and carburetor ice. You can find them on the Fly8Ma website, and on YouTube. WeatherXplore was sponsored and funded by the Weather Technology in the Cockpit (WTIC) program. and developed in partnership with PEGASAS (the FAA’s Center of Excellence for General Aviation), and Western Michigan and Purdue Universities, with contributions from Tietronix Software and, an online private pilot ground school.
Last updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2022