The newly released version 4.0 of Wx24 Pilot is a major upgrade to this innovative aviation weather app. A key feature of the new version is the addition of cloud cover information provided by the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD).
Although NDFD is not an aviation specific weather product, it does provide pilots with an important tool to access cloud information and the ability to make more informed judgments of weather conditions. In addition, NDFD fills in the gaps of weather information for hundreds of smaller airports without TAFs (Terminal Airport Forecast) within the US.
Cloud conditions in Wx24 Pilot are represented by eight shades of blue and gray colors, with blue indicating clear sky and lighter to darker shades of gray representing the extent of cloud cover. A new icon in the lower navigation panel of the app toggles between flight categories (i.e. VFR, MVFR, IFR, LIFR) and NDFD cloud cover.
Cloud cover provides information that enhances a pilots understanding of enroute conditions beyond just flight categories. For example, a cross country flight with VFR conditions forecast enroute, tells pilots that cloud ceilings are not below 3,000 feet. But, what about at 6,500 feet? Will the pilot encounter solid overcast and IFR conditions at this altitude? Wx24Piot now gives pilots the critical information to determine whether there are clear skies or clouds enroute. In addition, with Wx24 Pilot’s interactive time slider, a pilot can also view the direction of cloud coverage over time.
To illustrate this point, we have provided screen captures of a flight between DuPage Airport, Illinois (KDPA) and St. Pete Airport, Florida (KPIE). The screen capture on the left predicts VFR conditions (green) at the time the flight will pass over airports enroute. However, the screen capture on the right warns the pilot to expect cloudy conditions when flying over Tennessee and Kentucky.
“This latest version of Wx24 Pilot provides a significant safety benefit for pilots. With the new cloud cover feature, a VFR pilot can now determine not only if it’s legal to fly, but whether it’s safe!” commented Paxton Calvanese, the app’s developer. “The airports along a given flight path may be reporting VFR conditions, but may in fact be solid overcast at 4,500 feet. With the Wx24 Pilot a pilot can determine if there are clear skies (blue color) or overcast conditions (gray color) during flight,” continued Paxton.