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A look inside: G650 gets Honeywell 3-D weather radar

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NBAA_header.jpgintuvueA380.jpgHoneywell, which has partnered with commercial manufacturers Airbus and Boeing to offer the IntuVue 3-D Advanced Weather Radar, will offer its big jet hardware as a standard feature for Gulfstream's all-new G650 business jet.

On August 14, 2008, members of the media, including this blogger, were invited by Honeywell for a demonstration of the 3-D weather radar in the skies over central Florida to chase thunderstorms in a 1952 Convair 580 (N580AS).

The IntuVue system, which is currently standard equipment for the Airbus A380 and an option on the Boeing 777 and 737, will be adapted to the Gulfstream G650 by shortening the antenna drive underneath the significantly smaller radome.

Also, the IntuVue will be certified in the first quarter of 2010 as an optional feature for the Airbus A320 and a year later on the A330/A340, as well as standard equipment on the A350 XWB.

The G650 will integrate the IntuVue 3-D weather data into the INAV display in the PlaneView II system based on the Honeywell Primus Epic avionics platform.  

IntuVue, the re-branded name of Honeywell's existing RDR-4000 3-D weather radar, is the company's first foray into offering the scalable technology on smaller platforms to penetrate the general aviation and business jet markets.

A380RDR4000interface.jpg Honeywell sees the IntuVue employed on two new business jet platforms within the next three to four years, and adds one of those will be in the very light jet category.

The IntuVue system uses 3-dimensional volumetric scanning to capture all weather data +/-90 degrees to the left and right of the aircraft, optimizing scans relative to the aircraft altitude up to 320 nm and 60,000 feet. The data is then fed into the 3-D buffer to create a picture of the surrounding weather on both horizontal and vertical situation displays.

The IntuVue system can complete a full sweep of the surrounding area in 30 seconds, offering flight crews the ability to detect and avoid previously unforeseen turbulence, wind shears and storm activity.

The selectable azimuth allows for a slice of the weather environment to be examined in the vertical situation display to enable better tactical and strategic route planning.

Because of the 3-dimensional data processing, the IntuVue system is able to compensate for the curvature of the Earth, not by bending the radar beam around the surface, but by extrapolating data relative to the altitude and distance from the aircraft. The aircraft is still limited to line of sight, limiting the return to 320 nm.

Weather data for a given area is stored for six minutes after collection and can display weather information behind the aircraft. This is done in the center display mode showing 2/3 forward and 1/3 behind aircraft or as much as 200 nm.

GroundMapA380.jpgThe 3-D buffer also interacts with Honeywell's Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGWPS) database to filter ground returns from weather data as to not confuse the pilot. The ground returns are not discarded, but rather stored to create an extended ground map.

The system can operate in multiple modes for strategic (AUTO) and tactical (MANual) weather analysis for both vertical and horizontal route planning.  

In AUTO mode, the radar automatically displays weather based on the aircraft flight path using the vertical rate and ground speed or the programmed FMS flight plan. The aircraft automatically tracks a +/-4000 foot boundary up to 60,000 feet. Weather inside the boundary is considered relevant and displays in solid colors, whereas weather outside the boundary is secondary and displays cross-hatched.

In MANual mode, the radar azimuth can be tilted side to side to create a 3-dimensional vertical cross section of the weather data overlaid on the vertical situation display.

The weather data is independently retrievable by both captain and first officer enabling customized displays for the left and right side displays.

Gulfstream's G650, the manufacturer's largest aircraft to date, will enter service in 2012, following a flight test campaign beginning in the second half of 2009.

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