Advances in three-dimensional flight radar systems will allow pilots to detect adverse weather conditions from up to 70 miles away.

Usatoday.com reports that the latest 3D radar, from manufacturer Honeywell, will not only be able to detect turbulence from this distance, but also lightning and hail.

The advancement is a great improvement over the 2D imaging systems in use today, which have been used by the commercial aviation industry for some 40 years.

The technology (IntuVue) is powered by a sophisticated scanning process, which converts the area in front of a plane – up to 60,000 feet high – into a 3D cube of radar data.

Using 3D scanning processes and radar systems such as these ultimately enable flight crew to make a more informed decision about which paths to take, and how to prepare for adverse conditions even more in advance.

“The impact on the travelling public is very simple,” says Honeywell senior chief engineer Ratan Khatwa. “The pilots will have a better awareness of the weather – where the storm cells are, and the turbulence.”

Weather disruption is one of the most prevalent reasons for aircraft delay in takeoff and landing, figures from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (bts.gov.uk) suggests. It found that in 2011, poor weather conditions accounted for a 39 per cent share of the total minutes lost in delayed flights.

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