RWS 110 – Better Weather Situational Awareness with Matt Johnson


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Matt Johnson heads up a weather training program for Metro Aviation. He is a Gold Seal FAA Flight Instructor and FAA Designated Pilot Examiner.

Have you applied the idea of situational awareness to weather before? Knowing what the weather was doing, what the weather is now and what it will be in the future. With access to the right weather products and knowing more about how they are developed you can level up your pre-flight weather assessment.

Weather is a contributing factor to a significant number of helicopter accidents. It is easy to see why looking at the photo below – even without considering flying into cloud, just the reduced visibility and the reducing ceiling that poor weather brings with it can up the work rate and concentration that it takes to get the task done.

For many aircrew we stop learning weather theory after qualification and only brush up on it before check rides. And we can get rusty at it. Same goes for making the most of the different weather forecast products that are available for reference before going flying.

In this podcast Matt Johnson walks us through some of the weather briefing considerations and useful briefing products that are covered in the weather training program that is run in-house for Metro Aviation’s several hundred staff pilots. Matt’s own experience covers flying for law enforcement and 12 years in the helicopter aeromedical sector.

Yuck! You can already feel the workload increase, taking away free mental cycles from other decision making tasks.

One of the things we talk about is the limitations of weather radars especially for lower level flights like many helicopter operations. Due to the curvature of the earth as you move away from the radar ground site the radar picture can fail to show rain areas up to several thousand feet above ground.

Below – This may only be a US aviation product but it is called the HEMS Tool and is avaliable directly off the National Weather Service’s Aviation landing page. It displays a range of information from low level weather forecasts.

Perhaps Matt’s first stop when looking at the weather before coming on shift is the Aviation Forecast Discussion product. This is an amplifying comments area where the forecaster can give additional context and editorial to the normal ‘coded’ style products such as TAFs or area forecasts. It can indicate the possibility of developing weather that wasn’t modelled strongly enough to make it into other forecasts and the forecaster’s thoughts about the upcoming period.

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Links from this week’s episode:
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Assessing General Aviation Pilots’ Weather Knowledge and Self-Efficacy – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University paper, 2017

Short-Comings of Weather Radars – National Weather Service

How does a Weather Radar Work? and Radar FAQs – Bureau of Meteorology

Matt Johnson has flown law enforcement and helicopter aero-medical sector roles. Along with his flight instructor and FAA Designated Pilot Examiner duties, Matt is active in promoting better weather knowledge and training amongst helicopter pilots.

What was your biggest takeaway from this episode? Help yourself remember and share it with others by making a comment about it here below.

The post RWS 110 – Better Weather Situational Awareness with Matt Johnson appeared first on The Rotary Wing Show Podcast.

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