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Radar Knowledge

SSDD

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I normally don't kiss and tell, but in my opinion this was so far over the top that its worth sharing.

A few weeks ago, on a dark and stormy night, I jumpseated in a regional jet to my home in the Midwest. Now, I'm familiar with the practice of aiming the wx radar down to paint ground clutter in the outer 1/4 of the screen, and then any returns that come out of that clutter is considered precipitation. This crew had the radar turned so far down that practically the whole screen was ground clutter. So the flat land was painting green and the towns came back as yellow/red.

Well, we circumnavigated some returns(small towns) in Indiana, but when we came to the big red/purple blob with the VOR symbol and the letters VHP in the center, I thought they would question the display...NOOOO...we circumnavigated Indianapolis!!!

The captain asked me to use the headset, so I heard their whole discussion. They really thought they were avoiding thunderstorms! I make it a practice to sit there and not make any comments unless safety is involved, or the crew wants to chat, so I simply said, thanks for the ride and went on my way.

I didn't think it was my place to comment on their lack of understanding. Notice I've left out the airline, aircraft type, city pair, etc. I just hope some people read this post and review some of their radar practices...

I'll probably get ripped for posting this, but so be it...
 

B.T.Justice

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That must have been funny to watch. At least they weren't at FL370 with the tilt at +3....I've seen that too. Maybe they were just trying to get some overblock.
 

t-bone

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Descending at night into SNA from Hawaii, I asked to go around the well-formed return that was directly in front of us. Then I realized it was Santa Catalina island...I'm sure I gave LA Center a good laugh!
 

Kaman

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kind of like coming into EWR from the west...OMG! look at the weather out there! Ummmm, that's Manhattan, sir...oh yeah...
 

rjacobs

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I had a guy messing with the gain a few weeks ago(not a bad idea in the EMB and actually makes the radar "work" a little better). It was not pulled out hence it was on auto. I watched him mess with it for a good 2 hours before I said anything. "hey chief, you got to pull it out for manual gain, you aint been doing nothing for the past 2 hours".
 

wmuflyguy

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I have also seen this happen.

My experience is that some places don't really teach folks how to use the radar. They may have a ground school hour devoted to it, but if you are coming form a 172 you really need to play with it to figure it out.

They figure it will get taught online, which works if you happen to do your IOE in the spring or summer and the check airmen covers it.
 

Dumb Pilot

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I think we are all aware of the deficiencies of the training environment in the US, training is about the minimum possible time, bake the cake and serve it, doesn't matter how it taste!

So when your colleague ask for you to request a deviation on that perfectly round return that is closing up to you at a combined speed of MACH 1.6....! Be patient and do some teaching!
 

BOX OFFICE

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I've jumpseated on plenty of mainline aircraft (particularly the -88) there the pilots have done the same thing. I kept my laughter to myself.
 

SpauldingSmails

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Aside from telling guys that we don't need to deviate around Chicago and Cleveland for no reason, I found that failing to range down approaching weather is a common error.

Guys and gals fly around with the range pegged out to 100-200 nmi and they're all like, "Oh, it's nothing big." Then when you range down to 25 nmi, its, "Oh yeah, we should probably pick around that."
 

CX880

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Who here hasn't mistaken Indy for a storm? I love guys that deviate for no reason I just let it happen it's rAther amusing were going around nothing, best part is when atc asks why and then watch them come up with an explanation.
 
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IBNAV8R

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Seems most of us get all of our radar training from videos and CBTs. The information is all valid and accurate but until you see it and "play" with it, you don't learn it. Sadly, many of our cohorts think it unprofessional to "play" with the equipment. So you get countless pilots who have all been "trained" but understand jack-**** about radar - except maybe how to run the Built-in-test and rotely answer questions on the oral.

Why do people care about weather that's far below them - unless they're planning on descending into it?
 

wmuflyguy

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Seems most of us get all of our radar training from videos and CBTs. The information is all valid and accurate but until you see it and "play" with it, you don't learn it. Sadly, many of our cohorts think it unprofessional to "play" with the equipment. So you get countless pilots who have all been "trained" but understand jack-**** about radar - except maybe how to run the Built-in-test and rotely answer questions on the oral.

Why do people care about weather that's far below them - unless they're planning on descending into it?


Also, when you do the CBT it may be months until you use the radar. Good luck remembering that CBT that long.
 

bafanguy

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I've jumpseated on plenty of mainline aircraft (particularly the -88) there the pilots have done the same thing. I kept my laughter to myself.

Were the -88s you mention Delta ? If so, I'm a bit surprised you saw people who didn't know how to operate radar (if that's what you meant). They aren't exactly inexperienced people and the DL POM has a pretty good radar section with adequate theory.

But, Dumb Pilot is correct in that little time is spent "teaching" people how to operate wx radar these days. Many years ago, as an example, UAL had a dedicated radar course complete with their own manual and sufficient time addressing the subject in class as best they could. However, that's history.

Like FMS, learning how to operate radar is very much hands-on and experience based. However, there is now ample material available for people to bolster their knowledge base: books and some pretty good articles, much available online. I think I remember Robert Sumwalt wrote a series of good radar articles.

I can recommend a good text written by a DL guy:

http://www.amazon.com/Airborne-Weather-Radar-Users-Guide/dp/0813813638

I don't know where Amazon comes up with those prices but it's a very good radar textbook. (I have no financial interest in this book)

I suppose the first step in correcting a lack of knowledge would be recognizing that lack. For new people, recognizing their employer's CBT didn't amount to much would be a hint. The less experience that new person has, the more obvious that training deficit should be. Asking questions of the captains they fly with would be a good start; most captains will have a good knowledge/experience base.

I had the privilege of flying with some old captains whose experience involved flying before airborne wx radar. The stories would make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Flying today with an inadequate knowledge of radar use/operation would be better than having no radar but it's pretty easy to get educated on proper operation. It just requires recognizing the need and having to motivation to fix that.

Ya'll be careful out there. :D
 
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rettofly

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Seems most of us get all of our radar training from videos and CBTs. The information is all valid and accurate but until you see it and "play" with it, you don't learn it. Sadly, many of our cohorts think it unprofessional to "play" with the equipment. So you get countless pilots who have all been "trained" but understand jack-**** about radar - except maybe how to run the Built-in-test and rotely answer questions on the oral.

Why do people care about weather that's far below them - unless they're planning on descending into it?

That cuts both ways.

Who has not been offered an unsolicited deviation around weather far below them? "There is an area of extreme precipitation twelve o'clock at forty miles. Would you prefer to deviate left or right?"
 

av8tor19

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Even though the original post is comical, the opposite can happen. We had a crew at 370 running +2 on the tilt. I think the report said they saw it paint red 1 time before they flew in to a CB and put the FA on the ceiling.

Another site:

http://www.radar4pilots.com/
 
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