In the Federal Aviation Administration’s ongoing work to improve aviation safety in Hawaii, the agency has installed weather cameras in 5 locations on Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. The agency plans to install another 21 cameras across 6 islands by the end of 2023.
The cameras provide pilots with near-real time images of weather conditions at their destinations and along intended flight routes. The FAA has taken input from local pilots, including where they encounter sudden weather changes and where accidents have occurred, to determine camera sites.
Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) occurs when a pilot unintentionally flies into the ground, mountainsides, or bodies of water.
The 5 current Hawaii camera locations are Loleau and Powerline Trail on Kauai; the North Shore on Oahu; and Waimea and Pahala on the Big Island. The FAA is planning to install additional cameras on Kauai near the site of a December 2019 air tour helicopter crash. Live images can be viewed here.
The FAA began installing weather cameras in Alaska more than 20 years ago. In 2020, the agency established a partnership with the State of Colorado to expand the program there.
For more insight into the history and future of the FAA Weather Camera Program, go to the FAA Blog, Cleared for Takeoff.
The CFIT type of accident results in the highest fatality rate of all general aviation (GA) accidents. The FAA’s Weather Camera Program successfully targets and reduces the most common cause of these accidents: loss of visual contact with terrain due to weather. What began as a small trial in Alaska 20 years ago, the Weather Camera Program has grown into a robust system that recently expanded into Colorado and soon will expand to Hawaii. The FAA is also providing support to other countries that are looking to install similar systems.