In-cockpit Weather?

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Tuesday “techies” – wish you were here, don’t you?

Hi everyone,

We are having a lively discussion tonight about what we can do to get weather updates while we are in the air.

It seems to be a shame that with the technology we have today, we are limited.

Does anyone have experience with in-cockpit weather in Canada?  What are our options?

6 comments

  1. In Canada there are a couple of ways to get weather that I know of. One is to get a subscription to Sirius WX weather and a device that will display it. Sirius is satellite based so you can receive it anywhere you have open sky. It may be limited really far north as the satellites are equatorial based. The Sirius web site has a list of devices that support WX weather. This is probably the best way to get weather in northern regions as internet connections (cell or WIFI) are few and far between in the north.
    A second method is WIFI or cell (internet) with one of the many programs that have weather. Foreflight is a good example here. It rebroadcasts WX weather to anyone that has a Foreflight subscription when you are connected to the internet. (in the US WX weather is rebroadcast on ADS-B). The one problem is that it’s still illegal to have your cell phone turned on in flight. In the US this is a FCC regulation, not an FAA regulation. The reason is that your cell phone will grab up all the connections it can so that your call is continuous when you move from tower to tower. That is not a problem on the ground but in the air you will tie up too many cell towers and clog the system. I believe Canada has the same regulations as the US.
    The work around for Foreflight is to Pack your flight plan while you are on the ground. Packing downloads and caches all the data you need for your flight including the weather and NOTAMS. If you stop every couple of hours the FBO will have WIFI so you can pack again and get updated weather for the next portion of your flight. Your weather information will get a couple of hours old but WX weather is not a good way to avoid storm cells as it’s already a few minutes old when you get it and a storm cell moves faster than the weather forecast.
    So while WX (Sirius or rebroadcast through Foreflight) weather works well for planning go or don’t go, Gordon’s method of flying around the thunderstorms you can see is good advise.
    I have a real life experience. I flew to NB for fuel and encountered a small rain storm south of the highway. when I came back 20 minutes later, the rain storm had moved north of the highway but Foreflight was still showing it south of the highway. I did get some nice pictures of the rainbow.
    So next question. How do we add pictures to our comments?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I use Foreflight and leave data on while flying. Cel service is frequent enough to keep up to date, near real time, for weather. In Canada, I do not see anything specific with regards to having data plans off while flying. Even travel to the Yukon, Uranium city, etc. all works out for weather. If you need more frequent weather data then that, then your probably cutting it too close. Interesting point that most mines sites, oil sands projects, some of the northern communities all have cel service so there are not many dead spot while flying even in the ‘remote’ north of Saskatchewan and Alberta when traveling cross country. There are several other devices to provide data for internet if your going more remote but I have not used them. That said, I was on a lake in the Yukon for three days with no weather update accept looking at the sky, took off to fly back to southern Yukon and wished I had the latest weather because I would not have taken off!! This is where a mobile satellite internet would be valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a subscription to Sirius XM weather, use a Bendix King AV8OR portable which connects Bluetooth to a XM WXworx receiver for weather information. This combination is no longer current (meaning you cannot purchase new) however it works. You can get a newer XM receiver that can connect Wifi to the iPad, however you need an Wifi interface that is manufactured by Barons to make it work. Given I have invested about $1000 in the AV8OR setup I cannot justify switching to get XM on the iPad (in Foreflight). Which would be better and prefered.

    XM coverage in Canada is not that comprehensive. Ok around Saskatoon and towards north BC/Alberta and closer to the border of course. but not good or not available in northern Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario. As Murry pointed out, Satellite coverage is limited in Canada (mainly a USA market. Like all of GA) .

    I have found that you need to have the XM receiver in the cockpit facing (exposed to) the southern sky otherwise you can lose the signal. Most annoying happens too often . If mounted on top of the airframe it would not be an issue.

    I continue to maintain my XM subscription even though I do not fly enough to justify really having it. But it is all I the name of safety. I would rather know that the weather is doing when it he air.

    With the USA moving to ADS-B and the free weather/traffic info provides I wonder how long XM weather will be available. We have limited options here in Canada

    Rick

    Liked by 1 person

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