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.