In 2008, the Stormscope WX-500, by L-3 Communications Avionics Systems, was optional equipment on Cirrus SR22 GTS Perspective aircraft which gave buyers a lower acquisition cost and option for just standard satellite weather. We kept the WX-500 on our SR22 shopping list when we bought last year and here are some of the reasons why.
Both the WX-500 Stormscope and satellite weather output can be viewed on the Multi-Function Display (MFD), giving a large user-friendly view of weather information which helps reduce pilot workload. My previous aircraft was a Piper Archer with a yoke mounted Garmin 396 moving map weather display and a separate dash mounted StrikeFinder. While that arrangement was good the Cirrus Perspective by Garmin MFD display is a much better configuration for situational awareness and helps to decrease pilot workload.
When the WX-500 is installed on Cirrus Perspective aircraft, the pilot can control all functions through the Multi-Function Display (MFD). System status will be displayed in the Stormscope status box located in the map page upper left corner.
What are Stormscope WX-500 key user features?
- Heading stabilization
- Display of both cell and strike data
- Strike rate information
- MFD updates every 2 seconds from WX-500 sensor output
- Precise mapping of electrical discharges up to 200 nautical miles away
- Provides 120 degree forward view and 360 degree view of surrounding airspace
The heading stabilization feature automatically adjusts the position of discharge points on the display when your aircraft changes headings. Bearing to the strike data will be referenced to the airplane heading.
You can select to display either cell or strike data. Cell data will be plotted using the ‘+’ symbol and strike data will be plotted using the ‘x’ symbol. Both sensor output views are useful.
Cell data is useful during periods of heavy electrical discharge activity. A pilot using cell mode during these periods will see storm cell electrical output grouped without having to analyze a screen full of discharge points. In cell data mode, the WX-500 uses a clustering algorithm to locate storm cell activity.
Strike data is most useful during periods of light electrical activity because strike data may show initial discharge points of a building thunderstorm sooner than cell data mode. Strike data is mapped in relation to where the actual discharge is detected instead of plotting them close to an associated group of discharge points as in the cell mode.
Pilots may use strike rate (approximate number of strikes per minute) to determine if storm cells are increasing or decaying. The MFD calculates the strike rate for the current range and view.
The MFD is updated every 2 seconds with sensor output from the WX-500 providing real-time information. Satellite weather delivers the “big picture” and valuable ground based radar output, but pilots must consider the some or all mosaic data maybe delayed. Combining WX-500 sensor output with satellite weather increases safety and helps complete the weather picture in light general aviation aircraft.
Caution: You should always study your original source Stormscope WX-500 User Guide, Pilot Operating Handbook, Flight Supplement Manuals, and seek appropriate professional instruction in the use of your aircraft avionics.
Warning: FAA Advisory material recommends that pilots “avoid by at least 20 miles any thunderstorm identified as severe or giving an intense radar echo.”
L3 Communications Avionics Systems Inc, Users Guide for the Stormscope Series II Weather Mapping Sensor Model WX-500, P/N 009-11501-001 (Rev. C, 12/05/03), Cirrus Aircraft Pilot Operating Handbook Flight Manual Supplement, and The FAA Advisory Circular, Subject: Thunderstorms, and the Airman’s Information Manual (AIM).
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