3 Weather Detectors You Really Need In Your Aircraft
Among the best improvements in avionics over the years is the ability to add weather detection equipment to the cockpit. Even small planes can have equipment now that helps them avoid dangerous weather and turbulent air. While you can always get a weather report from the nearest airport, it's much faster and easier — and safer — to have equipment that lets you see immediately what's coming up. As you upgrade your plane's avionics systems, be sure you have at least these three detectors installed before you take off.
A Lightning Detector
Lightning detectors vary in the range they scour for evidence of electrical energy, but all of them look at a wide enough range that you'll get plenty of notice of upcoming areas where you might encounter strikes. Many pilots now rely on a satellite link to help them stay in contact with air traffic controllers for information, but there is controversy over the types of lightning strikes that method of detection can find. An onboard lightning detector, however, searches for almost all types of lightning, making avoidance much easier for you.
Onboard Weather Radar
Onboard weather radar systems (these are distinct from lightning detectors) used to be very expensive and generally out of reach for most small plane pilots. Not now; these devices are much easier to obtain and much more affordable. Having weather radar right there, something you can see in the cockpit, helps you identify nearby systems that you may want to fly around. You can always confirm what you see with air traffic controllers, but why rely solely on the busy tower? Have the weather radar there so you can make faster decisions about what route you'll need to take.
Wind Shear Detection
Wind shear is one of the more frightening weather phenomena you can encounter in a plane, regardless of the size of the aircraft. It's unpredictable and can send your plane speeding forward unexpectedly by changing the tailwind or headwind you're dealing with. You really want a detector for wind shear with you. This is a bad phenomenon that can create a lot of trouble when you take off or land, and you want to avoid it or compensate for it — but you have to know it's there to do that.
There are more weather instruments you can include as you upgrade the avionics in your plane, but you need these three at a minimum. If you're not sure what else to get, an aircraft avionics service can help you choose.