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Stormy Weather? No Worries with Next-Generation Radar for Business Jets

Stormy Weather? No Worries with Next-Generation Radar for Business Jets

For decades business aircraft pilots have relied on onboard weather radar systems to help them steer clear of bad weather and provide passengers with a safe, comfortable ride from Point A to Point B. That task is about to become a lot easier thanks to the next-generation RDR-7000 IntuVue weather radar from Honeywell.

The RDR-7000 shares DNA with its big brother, the RDR-4000, which Honeywell introduced for airline use about a decade ago. The RDR-7000 fits all the capabilities of the RDR-4000 into a smaller, more efficient package to meet the specific needs of business aviation operators. It weighs just 16 pounds (compared to 45 pounds for the RDR-4000) and is about the same size as a conventional radar, so it’s easy to install.

It’s also very easy to fly, because the RDR-7000 is fully automatic, which means flight crews can focus on flying the airplane, rather than operating the radar.  With conventional radars, pilots have to manually point the radar antenna, which is done automatically and continuously with the RDR-7000. But you don’t have to take my word for it – see what a Global XRS pilot who’s flown the new radar has to say.

But it’s performance that makes the RDR-7000 truly unique. Conventional weather radars scan only a portion of the sky. But the RDR-7000 scans the entire volume of air in front of the aircraft from the ground to 60,000 feet and up to 320 nautical miles along and adjacent to the flight path.

Honeywell engineers developed a technique called 3-D volumetric scanning to analyze any storm clouds the radar detects and search for conditions that might produce lightning, hail, turbulence or wind shear. Then it displays those conditions with easy-to-understand symbology – like small lightning bolts – so pilots can clearly see what kinds of conditions they’re facing.

The RDR-7000 displays all relevant weather information well in advance so the flight crew can change course to avoid storm cells. The radar even looks beyond the first storm it detects so pilots don’t inadvertently steer clear of one cell, only to fly into another. We also use a terrain data base to make sure there’s no mistaking ground clutter for weather returns. 

Avoiding severe weather and a bumpy ride is a good thing, just ask any uneasy flyer. But conditions like turbulence, hail and lightning also can cause passenger injuries and costly aircraft damage. Other benefits of the RDR-7000 include lower operating costs from delays, diversions and flight cancellations, and lower maintenance costs because the RDR-7000 uses sold-state technologies.

The weather radar that equips most aircraft today was developed more than 30 years ago and uses Magnatron based technology. The RDR-7000 uses solid state transistors. Think of it like comparing the CRTs used in older computers and television sets to new Liquid Crystal Displays. The RDR-7000 gives operators a multigeneration leap to a new-technology solution that will improve flight safety and operational performance, drive down costs, reduce pilot workload, and increase the value of the aircraft.

This remarkable radar will be available soon for installation in new aircraft and retrofit into existing aircraft. Honeywell is now seeking Supplemental Type Certificates on the radar system for 15 business aircraft types, after having received an FAA Technical Standard Order on the radar in July 2020.

For more information on the RDR-7000, contact your Honeywell representative.

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