Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Lightning Detection: Stormscope and Strikefinder
The April 2012 issue of Rotor & Wing examines various options for operators in “Weather Radar: Navigating the Storm”. The article provides a starting point for pilots and operators when it comes to airborne weather radar. Outside of the Honeywell and Rockwell Collins’ radar systems that are mentioned, operators can also find L-3 Communications’ Stormscope and Insight Instrument’s Strikefinder. Although these two systems are not radar, much like radar they can depict areas of weather to avoid. But that is where the similarity ends, as these are two different technologies.
Stormscope and Strikefinder monitor electrical energy in the atmosphere, and are able to depict lighting on a display. Since areas with lighting are most likely to contain heavy rain and turbulence, this tool enables pilots to avoid the depicted areas.
Stormscope also updates lightning information every second using azimuth and range to provide strike rake details for storms that are both building up strength or dispersing. Strikefinder works much in the same way, but utilizes broadband digital sampling for signal strength and noise rejection.
Unlike radar, many Stormscopes and Strikefinders can depict these areas 360 degrees around the aircraft out as far as 200 nm. Basic models sell for around $2,000 and at the high end cost more than entry-level radar set. With increased cost, these systems include GPS integration and gyro stabilization. Smaller and lighter and without the need for a nose-mounted antenna, they can be a good solution to avoid weather. Unlike radar, they are not intended to navigate or pick your way through areas of weather. Various industry trade shows are a good place to visit the various avionics manufacturer’s booths and compare the various models side-by-side.
Full Story: Weather Radar: Navigating the Storm