Avionics Report

October 2009 Issue

XM Weather Choices: Aviator Lite is Tops

The choice of service levels hinges on ground-based lightning detection. Hereís why you can get by without it.

Itís inevitable that when you buy any product that has a dozen or more features, you use a few of them consistently and the rest might as well not be there. High-end gadgets and features look good in the marketing copy, but why pay for extras you donít really need? And thatís exactly the situation with XM WX Weather, a first-rate system thatís a great flight safety enhancer, but one that offers far more data than you need. In this article, weíll examine what each service provides and explain why you can get by with the most basic service or, at the most, the mid-priced upgrade. As is the fashion in modern marketing, XM WX Weather offers three tiers of serviceóthe more you spend, the more you get. While each package adds more features, it also essentially doubles the cost. The Aviator package was the launch product and it hasnít changed much in features and price since it was first introduced. At $49.99 per month, it has nearly a dozen weather products and its introduction fundamentally changed the rules for inflight weather awareness. Probing for the cost-sensitive bottom of the market, a couple of years later, XM WX Weather introduced Aviator LT, a reduced version of the Aviator package that, at $29.99 per month, stripped off nearly two-thirds of the Aviator serviceís features, leaving only the NEXRAD mosaic, METARs, TAFs, precipitation type and TFRs.

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