Are there specific times that the radar/stormscope update? On the hour, 15 min past etc.
I can't find the exact times but it is about 4 times/ hour. But Germany is moving to 5 minute updates and that should reflect in this product.
Essentially whenever the German weather service updates its radar picture it is available to the adl.
From the ADL docs the radar images are created on each 15 min of the hours plus 3 min render time so you will get a new radar image on minute 3, 18, 33, 48. The strike maps are updates on a 1 minute interval.
I've bought the ADL120 too but haven't used it yet because my plane is in annual inspection. But I'll try on Monday!
Which is frequent enough that it can be used as yesterday for real time decision making. Separately, Sebastian has been very responsive with updates for the software to take account of feedback. Currently version 1.08. Good customer service continues.
We just bought the ADL-120, and I’m looking for best practices on how to use the ADL-120 for weather avoidance.
I’m looking for feedback from other pilots who are already using this device while flying.
- According to the manual, the ADL-120 may never be used to penetrate weather. How does it work in practice? Do I need to stay clear of anything which is depicted on the ADL-120 radar screen?
- What do the colors on the radar map depict? Is it the intensity of precipitation?
- How to interpreted the colors on the radar map? It’s obvious you should stay away from anything purple or red. But what about yellow or green?
- Suppose the ADL-120 is depicting serious weather on your route, and you decide to strategically get around it. The result would be a significant detour. How do you work that out with ATC? They usually allow deviations, but expect you to return to the planned route. Can you change your route while airborne?
According to the manual, the ADL120 may never be used to penetrate weather.
Data link weather in general is a great tool but there is so much technology involved, so for several reasons the information is not reliable enough to bet your life on it.
What I want to say is that you should not enter IMC conditions where there might be embedded thunderstorms basically relying only on data link weather. You always need several sources of information.
So the first step is to also download the data link strike map if available for your region. A combined malfunction in both mostly independent systems is a lot less likely.
Then you have to verify your assumptions about the situation close to your aircraft either by looking out of the window or by using certified on board radar.
So the ADL120 is a little like a car navigation system. It will usually give you precise information on your route but don’t drive into the river if the navigation system suggests there is a bridge which has been removed lately …
What do the colors on the radar map depict? Is it the intensity of precipitation?
They depict the reflectivity of the atmosphere. Usually this means water in the atmosphere but it could also be ice or sand particles.
How to interpreted the colors on the radar map? It’s obvious you should stay away from anything purple or red. But what about yellow or green?
On the ADL120 the maximum intensity is red. The national radar systems are calibrated differently. We try to equalize this by comparing measurements of the same weather systems when they move over the overlapping country borders.
So from a practical point of view I would stay away from anything orange or red. For green and yellow it depends on your aircraft and the altitude you fly. I have been in yellow areas in the sunshine at FL180 and the rain was in the clouds below.
Suppose the ADL120 is depicting serious weather on your route, and you decide to strategically get around it. The result would be a significant detour. How do you work that out with ATC? They usually allow deviations, but expect you to return to the planned route. Can you change your route while airborne?
Sure you can change your route. Usually you request something like 10 or 20 degrees to the left/right “to avoid”. But that is not specific to data link weather. If all your available sources of information indicate you have bad weather ahead you request to avoid it. In addition most radar controls will also have access to weather radar systems.
So data link weather is a wonder full tool. But there have been some accidents in the US when pilots tried to use XM to fly very close to thunderstorms ignoring the limitations. So I encourage all pilots to fly reasonably.
Can the ADL120 connect to multiple iPads simualtaneously?
A few more words on avoidance action / deviations.
The “usual” deviations are indeed 10-30 degrees to the side for between 2 and 10 minutes. This is usually no problem for ATC and is usually approved instantly. Sufficient to fly around a TCU or a small CB.
Things get more interesting when the required deviation is bigger than that. In some cases, ATC gets less cooperative in these cases and sometimes downright nasty.
I remember one case in Holland where I had to fly quite a bit further north than the airway. The initial deviation was approved but after a few minutes Amsterdam started buggging me “for how long will you need to maintain present heading”? and I responded “I gues quite a while”.
Just a few minutes later he came back “please advise when able to turn back to SPY again”.
I told him once again that I would need to maintain the heading for now and let him know through my voice that didn’t want to be bothered any more…
What always helps is to let ATC know early on what tye of avoidance you expect. If it’s a bigger one, say something like “it looks like we need to fly further north than our cleared routing, roughly via [insert VORs or major airports]”.
When it gets really interesting is when that deviation requires you to fly through a secor or even a different country, whose controllers don’t even have your flightplan. Some units don’t like accepting such flights at all.
Therefore, in this case, again, let ATC know well in advance and say “it looks like we need to deviate to the north substantially, via xy and yz,… so…, please inform the adjacent sectors about our requested routing”.
Never get yourself in trouble in order to please ATC. Do what is required. The rest is their problem to sort out. That’s what they’re paid for.
A small additional point – getting a rerouting through the same countries as planned is easier than getting one taking you into another one. So in the little image you posted above, it looks like going via Switzerland is a better option, but I’d give ATC at least 10 minutes to sort that out…
The funniest experience with weather avoidance was when I was a bit green using radar – I was flying towards Belgium from Dover, saw a yellow echo ahead and asked for 20 degrees left to avoid. As I went past that single CB there appeared a line of thunderstorms in the distance so I kept my heading, ATC asked me to advise when able to turn right again, to which I replied “Wilco”… Damn, there is really a BAD line of CBs over the Belgian coast, didn’t really expect that from the forecast – hold on – coast??? Tilting the radar up by a few degrees and all was clear – I had avoided the coastal echo and would have ended up in the Netherlands and flying towards Denmark! Slightly embarrassed I asked for direct LNO…
All the weather avoidance thingies have their gotchas, I’d love to have all three (ADL for big-picture avoidance, Radar to go through a weak front, and stormscope…. um, just because.)