Weather Info Doesn’t Improve With Age

September 12, 2014

Some things get better with age. Weather data isn’t one of them.

This is especially true for pilots relying on their aircraft’s flight management system (FMS) to compute the most efficient flight profile to get from Point A to Point B. The FMS makes its efficiency calculations based on a series of inputs, including wind and temperature predictions at particular waypoints and altitudes along the route of flight. From these inputs, the FMS constantly computes the most fuel-efficient flight profile.

But here’s the problem. Since the beginning of the FMS era in the 1970s, pilots have had to manually input data – including wind and temperature forecasts – before takeoff. This information begins to age before the wheels leave the ground and gets staler by the minute. On long flights the data will become hours old – and increasingly inaccurate – long before the aircraft reaches its destination. As a result, the flight crew would be missing multiple opportunities to change altitude to take advantage of more favorable weather conditions that could reduce flying time and save fuel.

Now all this is changing – thanks to Honeywell and its groundbreaking work with connected aircraft. We’re combining our connectivity expertise with our unequalled FMS experience to reduce pilot workload, improve airline operations and reduce fuel consumption, which also leads to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Honeywell is the inventor of flight management system technology, we’ve produced more FMS units than anyone and we’ve got more than 25 years of mission-critical datalink experience under our belt. This combination of datalink experience and our deep proprietary knowledge of FMS logic lets us provide an optimized FMS Datalink Services solution that is tailored to the specific needs of each airline, fleet type and FMS equipment.

With Honeywell’s FMS Datalink Services solution, flight crews are able to download their flight plan – including the latest wind and temperature information – before they take off and with just a few keystrokes. Then, throughout the flight, the service will provide flight plan and weather updates to the aircraft, which ensures that the most accurate information is always available. From there, it’s easy for the pilot to acknowledge the new information with a simple button push and take advantage of the most current wind and temperature conditions by following newly optimized FMS recommendations to climb or descend.

One recently published case study using a Boeing 777 fleet demonstrated the enormous potential of en route weather datalink to improve operations and reduce fuel costs. On 84 percent of the 225 flights surveyed, the crew was able to optimize their flight profile using wind and temperature information provided via datalink. The result was 305 step optimizations with the aircraft changing altitudes to take advantage of more favorable conditions. Based on the test program, the annual fuel savings gained from FMS datalink was calculated to be about $72,000, per aircraft.

No one understands FMS technology better than Honeywell, which has designed and produced more units for more aircraft types than any other supplier. Our singular expertise lets us tailor information to the unique needs of every operator, aircraft and system, helping airlines realize the best possible return on their investment. To find out more about our Flight Management Systems click here.