Gogo says that inflight connectivity is helping Delta make real-time updates to its Flight Weather Viewer app, providing forecasts and turbulence warnings.
Turbulence is said to cost airlines approximately $100 million every year.
Delta says the app, developed in partnership with Basic Commerce and Industries (BCI), allows pilots to plug in their flight plan and view where turbulence is and how it’s being encountered on a 3-D colour-coded map and 0-100 scale.
The system uses special algorithms from existing avionics sensors installed on more than 300 aircraft in the airline’s fleet to combine vertical accelerometer data with atmospheric state data, which includes factors such as pitch, roll and wind speed to generate turbulence reports.
These reports are fed back into forecast models and made available to the app in real time. Pilots can set threat index alerts along their route, which trigger audible and visual notifications signalling when an area of turbulence lies ahead, when the seat belt sign should be turned on and when the cabin needs to be secured.
Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi
The data can be made available in real time, thanks to fast and secure connectivity via Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi network, instead of through the traditional ACARS digital datalink system that’s been in place since the late 1970s.
Delta pilots have been volunteering to beta test the app since January, with many calling it an industry game changer.
Delta First Officer Jason Rice said: “The Flight Weather Viewer app has become a valued tool in my bag of tricks. It’s the most incredible enhancement to en route situational awareness since the development of the glass cockpit and the FMC (Flight Management Computer).
“The forecasts are accurate, the reports objective and indicative of actual conditions, and the app functionality makes all of that information extremely easy to access. We have made an incredible leap forward in safety and customer comfort.”
Delta currently has the turbulence reporting algorithm installed on its fleet of Boeing 737s and 767s and plans to expand to its larger aircraft that fly internationally by adding the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 fleet in the near future.
In phase two of the app project, developers expect to add detection for several other types of weather disturbances, such as lightning, hail and even volcanic ash.