June 2018 Issue

Mind The Gaps

No matter how well-equipped our cockpit is, ground-based radar’s limitations means we may not see everything.

Less often discussed—or warned about—are the radar gaps, the places where there is only a partial picture. At best, the conclusions we draw when viewing weather radar where gaps exist can be misleading. At worst, they’re completely wrong. (And weather radar isn’t our only concern: depending on where we fly, ATC radar often has gaps in its coverage, especially at personal-airplane altitudes.) Essentially these radar gaps—especially the weather-radar kind—are what we might call “known unknowns,” and pilots would do well to be very wary of them. The good news is they are somewhat predictable if you know what to look for.

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