J11.6 Development of an education and training module for use of NEXRAD-based products in the cockpit by general aviation pilots

Monday, 24 January 2011: 5:15 PM
305 (Washington State Convention Center)
Erin A. Roberts, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL; and J. M. Lanicci
Manuscript (237.4 kB)

A key component of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is known as Collaborative Decision Making (CDM). It is envisioned that in a NextGen operating environment, all users of aviation weather information will have access to a common set of displays and applications, allowing flight operations centers, air traffic management, and aircrews to “see” a common weather picture at any given time and location in the National Airspace System. A very important part of the common weather picture will be the availability of real-time weather information in a user-friendly format to aircrews in flight. As aviation weather product dissemination technology rapidly progresses, a plethora of tools are now available for pilots to use in the cockpit. However, despite such a wide range of readily available products for pilot use, there is a dearth of education and training, especially in the General Aviation (GA) community, on the proper interpretation and usage of these products. Data-linked NEXRAD is a good example of a currently available real-time product that is very popular in the GA community, but lacks a coherent understanding of proper usage in pre-flight planning and in-flight operation.

Proper usage of NEXRAD in the cockpit should require a robust amount of education and training, yet very little material is currently available. An examination of FAA-required knowledge for pilots, including test questions and Advisory Circulars, shows that radar is covered, but not in enough detail. More importantly, using NEXRAD products in the cockpit to assist in real-time decision making is not addressed in official guidance, but is a topic that is very important, especially if it is used improperly to make tactical decisions that could affect flight safety. Vendors who provide NEXRAD-based products to the cockpit do provide guidance on the operation of the technology, but little in the way of basic radar principles and proper usage of the radar information.

In this study, a NEXRAD-based education and training module is being developed, delivered, and assessed for its effectiveness in a group of experienced and inexperienced GA pilots. The module contains material on weather radar and NEXRAD basics, NEXRAD limitations and specifics, thunderstorm basics, and pilot decision-making principles. The module will use extensive examples from actual convective weather situations to convey relevant points. Learners will be given the opportunity to practice many of the new skills learned in the module, and assessment of its effectiveness will be determined through use of a pre-test and a scenario-based post-test on the pilot sample. The module is being developed using Instructional Systems Design criteria with the help of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach campus. A needs analysis and learner and setting profiles were conducted to help construct the learning objectives. Proper creation of the learning objectives will ensure that all content is covered and that the pre- and post-tests assess the correct items. When completed, the study should shed some light on education and training guidance needed in order to use weather information properly in a CDM environment.

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