ForeFlight now supports XM weather (https://www.foreflight.com/connect/siriusxm/). This addition gives pilots the option to have either (or both) ADS-B weather or XM weather. I fear this will be a bad thing for aviation.
Now that’s a bold statement. XM weather, a bad thing? No, seriously, I do. Hear me out. ForeFlight, and all EFB software, has brought unparalleled situational awareness to the cockpit of today’s general aviation pilot. This is wonderful. I’ve been flying with ForeFlight for several years now, and I never leave the ground without it. While it’s not my primary navigation (nor can it be for IFR flights), it provides me with quick information and airport references. Frequencies, runway lengths, instrument approach plates; all easily accessible on my iPad. I also get weather. My Stratus 2S unit receives free ADS-B weather and gives me radar, TFRs, and more. So why would XM weather be bad?
Most pilots who fly with ForeFlight have some ADS-B solution. The commercial Stratus or a homemade option. This implies that ForeFlight users are wanting XM (and they might be). But XM comes with a price, $40/month, and yet another box to hook up externally. The subscription price isn’t bad, and the box is well made. They have no weight in my opinion. So why the negativity?
Simple, pilots who have ADS-B weather, and then purchase XM weather are going to believe the XM weather is better. Why? They’re paying for it, it must be better. You get what you pay for, right?
The FAA has been trying to tell us datalink weather is not real-time for years. Pilots who have XM and ADS-B weather have been killed because they believed the radar to be real-time. It isn’t. Pilots want to believe the expensive iPad and Stratus units are giving them real-time weather. Let’s say a pilot listens to the FAA, and doesn’t treat ADS-B weather as real-time. Now, that pilot purchases an XM receiver and subscription. Now he or she can flip between the ADS-B radar and the XM radar. This will give two different radar pictures, as it would be impossible to link the weather exactly at the same time. The pilot can now choose the radar he or she wants to believe, and fly into trouble.
XM weather is wonderful, if you don’t have ADS-B. But ADS-B weather is good enough to keep you out of trouble, and it’s free. Stick with ADS-B and steer clear of weather you shouldn’t be flirting with.