The best aviation weather radars play an essential role in getting accurate forecasts. As an aviator myself, I know all too well what can go wrong when you don’t have precise information to rely on.
When choosing aviation weather, accuracy is the most critical factor. However, ease of use also matters.
I think it’s important for pilots to know what the most common types of weather aids known as radar are:
Table of Contents
Types of weather information pilots need:
- On-board radar – On-board radar that detects and displays weather-related information.
- Lightning detectors – Lightning detectors identify lightning strikes close enough to threaten the plane.
- Satellite information – These systems use information transmitted directly from orbiting satellites or from ground link-ups.
Here are my picks for the best aviation weather radars:
- 1. the best on-board radar system, Garmin GWX 75
- 2. the top aviation lightning detector, STRIKE FINDER® Digital Weather Avoidance System
- 3. the best weather receiver overall, ForeFlight Sentry Plus ADS-B Receiver
- 4. the top in-flight radar package, Iridium GO! Aviation Package
- 5. the best course to understand weather radars, Garmin Aviation Weather Radar 2.0
1. Garmin GWX 75
Garmin GWX 75 is one of the best Doppler-capable radar systems. One of the things I like the most about this high-definition system is its use of more colors than traditional radar systems.
The antenna stabilization provides scan angles of up to 120 degrees. I’ve discovered that this feature substantially affects the information received.
Optional features that are helpful include turbulence detection and ground clutter suppression. These features help make the data interpretation more precise.
I enjoyed how the ground-mapping feature provides such clear pictures of geographical features in real time. This feature works well with increased color intervals.
These extra colors make data interpretation easier, as well as assess storm threats more easily. This system will work efficiently on 10 or 12 in aircraft radomes.
2. STRIKE FINDER® Digital Weather Avoidance System
The STRIKE FINDER® Digital Weather Avoidance System easily detects lightning strikes within 200 nm. One of the best features that I’ve found about this system is how easy the data is to interpret.
There is sufficient information on individual strikes for pilots to make the best decisions. One of the things I enjoy the most about this system is choosing the range that works best for my needs.
Being able to connect the display to a plane’s compass system helps ensure greater functionality. The sensor required for this system conveniently mounts on the fuselage.
3. ForeFlight Sentry Plus ADS-B Receiver
The ForeFlight Sentry Plus ADS-B Receiver lives up to its reputation of being the best weather receiver in the industry. I like the upgrades that have made it work so well with iPads.
An 18-hour battery makes the receiver a superior option, along with an innovative display screen. The data recorder uses next-generation technology that will be up to everyone’s standards.
I enjoyed being able to get weather information without a subscription. The GPS system works with multiple satellite constellations, increasing the overall versatility.
4. Iridium GO! Aviation Package
The Iridium GO! Aviation Package makes in-flight weather information more accessible. One of the best features of this radar system is its use of one of the most extensive satellite networks in use.
One of the best things about the system is the speed that allows weather updates within minutes. Convenient dashboard mounting makes the receiver accessible.
The airtime plans available are flexible, which I appreciate a lot. These plans range from 90-250 minutes with one or two-year minimum terms.
5. Garmin Aviation Weather Radar 2.0
The Garmin Aviation Weather Radar 2.0 allows pilots to delve deeper than what is covered in pilot’s manuals. I recommend this course for understanding weather radars better, regardless of the type used.
This course is web-based and uses multimedia elements very effectively. Its accessibility across devices makes it one of the most flexible options available.
All the basic principles are covered, as well as practical tips. The course covers three of Garmin’s most popular radar systems.
What weather website do pilots use most often?
The weather website pilots use most often is the Aviation Weather Center (AWC). This site utilizes National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data.
Where will I find an aviation weather forecast?
The AWC is the best source for aviation-specific weather. This site uses the most current NOAA data to allow pilots to make the best decisions.
Does weather radar detect other aircraft?
Weather radar can detect echoes from small planes. Multiple scans, however, are necessary to determine that these echoes are from an aircraft.
What is Metar?
Meteorological Terminal Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) is a type of weather reporting format. In the U.S., this format is known as aviation routine weather report and aerodrome routine meteorological report internationally.