Honeywell Storm-Avoidance Radar Wins European Approval

Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines will upgrade Boeing Co. 737s with a new radar from Honeywell International Inc. capable of detecting hail and lightning as the discount carrier seeks to cut weather-damage and turbulence-related costs.

“As pilots will be warned much earlier of adverse weather conditions, we foresee less damage and repairs, which will lead to lower direct costs,” said Pegasus head of safety, Kemal Mustafa Helvacioglu. About 45 of the carrier’s jets suffered lightning damage last year, he said.

Honeywell, which got approval to use the radar's weather feature operationally from U.S. regulators last year, said today the European Aviation Safety Agency has now also cleared the expanded application of the IntuVue 3-D system. Pegasus will be the first European operator to use the device.

The system extends the turbulence-detection range by 50 percent, Helvacioglu said in an e-mail. “There will be less hail ingestion or lightning strike-related damage to aircraft as a result.”

Turbulence is the leading cause of injuries in non-fatal accidents and can cost airlines $150,000 per incident, Honeywell’s chief engineer, Ratan Khatwa, said in a telephone interview. The radar, an upgrade to the RDR-4000, should allow pilots to minimize delays and fuel burns as they circumvent storms with a fuller picture of conditions ahead.

Storm fronts are currently missed because pilots have to point their radar manually to gauge weather in the flight path, leaving room for error, Khatwa said. The upgraded sensor automatically scans the sky, easing pilot workload and building a picture from ground level to 60,000 ft. (18,300 meters) and out to a range of 320 nautical miles (590 kilometers), he said.

Honeywell is targeting applications beyond the 737 fleet, Khatwa said. The basic radar is also used on airliners such as Boeing’s 777 long-range jet and the Airbus SAS A380 super jumbo.

Istanbul-based Pegasus Havayollari AS, owned by Esas Holding AS, announced plans in December to buy 75 Airbus A320neos series jets to eventually phase out its 737 fleet.

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