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6 Ways Technology Is Making IFR Flying Safer For GA Pilots

Flying IFR can be demanding. Fortunately, technology is giving GA pilots as much information as you can find in most airline flight decks.

1) NEXRAD/XM/ADS-B Radar

Yes, XM radar can be delayed, but the real advantage of XM radar isn't tactical navigation around storm cells. Instead, it's your ability to pick routes that will keep you well clear of convective weather. Before GA pilots had on-board weather, you really had no idea where those thunderstorm cells were.

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2) Early detection of abnormalities

Advanced avionics help you monitor your aircraft's systems, and warn you as soon as something starts going wrong. Visual and audio alerts grab your attention, even in task-saturated environments.

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3) Approach Procedure Visualization

Not only can you see your position on an approach, you know your time and distance to the next fix, and in most cases, when you'll hit your next altitude.

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4) ADS-B Traffic

Even though ATC is providing traffic separation under IFR, during VMC conditions, you're still responsible for seeing and avoiding traffic. Using ADS-B helps you identify potential traffic conflicts early.

5) Terrain Proximity Warnings

Systems like TAWS help alert you when you're descending below terrain or obstructions. There aren't many things that grab your attention in the cockpit like the airplane shouting "TOO LOW, TERRAIN" at you.

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6) Autopilot

Engaging the autopilot does a few things. 1) It helps you mitigate vestibular illusions when you're maneuvering in the clouds, and 2) It allows you to monitor your systems, navigation, and think about the "big picture" while you're flying.

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What else is making IFR flying safer for GA pilots? Tell us in the comments below.

Corey Komarec

Corey is an Embraer 175 First Officer for a large regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota, and he's been flying since he was 16. You can reach him at corey@boldmethod.com.

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