Weather: What weather technology advances is NextGen bringing to improve operations for operators?

Sandy SamuelSandy Samuel, Lockheed Martin: The NextGen Network Enabled Weather (NNEW) and the NextGen Weather Processor (NWP) programmes are important steps in providing all the necessary weather products from a Single Authoritative Source.  The key to providing benefits will be the tools included in the FAA’s Reduce Weather Impacts initiative that fully integrates these weather products with the NAS Automation and the Decision Support Tools.

Alan Bloodgood, Metron Aviation: NextGen is proposing a transformation of the way weather information is used within the NAS. Today, much of the reliance is on manual interpretation of the weather data, which can come from multiple sources and can be conflicting in nature.

NextGen advocates a new process called weather translation, which is the automatic conversion of weather information into relevant operational information, tailored to support various operationally related decisions. For instance, instead of looking at wind forecasts, that information would be automatically translated into forecasts of airport performance, promoting a common weather situational awareness for all NextGen stakeholders

Saab Sensis - KaminskiKen Kaminski, Saab Sensis: At each location where Aerobahn has been installed, the user community has developed new and more efficient procedures that take advantage of the common platform.  For example, stakeholders at George Bush International, including the FAA and United Airlines, have developed an improved process to respond to severe weather and fix closures by implementing a coded departure reroute process.

Bobby Sturgell, Rockwell Collins: There have been some amazing strides in weather and hazard detection systems over the past decade and these will play a key role in NextGen. Enhance sensing, visualisation and control technologies will play a key role in dramatically improving on-time performance in all weather conditions.

Fred MessinaFred Messina, Booz Allen Hamilton: Although the weather cannot be controlled, there are tools and procedures that are either already available or in development which can, or may one day, lessen the impact of weather on operations. These can be useful not only in planning but also in the recovery phase (including both pre-planning and post-recovery). These tools and procedures include:

  • Better weather forecasting and distribution capabilities (0–6-hour timeframe);
  • Common situational awareness through system-wide information management and sharing (both air and ground);
  • Collaborative decision-making processes and procedures (CDM), including airport CDM;
  • Surface management applications to improve efficiency and predictability.

Improvements include integrating weather observation systems and sensor networks, including ground, airborne (including UAS), and space-based (e.g., satellites) sensors, to provide operators and ANSP with enhanced weather information and early detection capabilities to improve flight and clearance planning, trajectory-based operations, and flow management.

Advances in weather information content (both aviation-impacting and routine) and dissemination capabilities provide users and/or their decision support tools with the ability to identify specific weather impacts on operations (e.g., trajectory management and impacts on specific airframes, arrival/departure planning) to ensure continued safe and efficient flight and surface operations.

Users will be able to retrieve and subscribe to automatic updates of weather information to support assessment of flight-specific thresholds that indicate re-planning actions are needed. Airside facilities are also able to remain open and fully functional during most severe weather conditions with advancements in technology, systems, and procedures that help airport operators mitigate weather impacts and proactively schedule inspections, maintenance, and weather-response activities.

Steve Fulton, GE Aviation: Improved weather and wind prediction, combined with new ways of incorporating dynamic wind and weather data into flight planning efforts and enroute ATM operations is a major focus of NextGen development.  GE is investing time, effort and capital into studying the interaction of weather factors with airspace management and in developing the tools and processes to use that information to create actual value for operators while increasing airspace throughput.

Brian DavisBrian Davis, Honeywell Aerospace: The ability to dynamically reroute around weather detected by advanced onboard weather radar systems as well as long range weather uplinked to the aircraft over new satellite and terrestrial datalinks will be key to improved operator efficiency and passenger safety.

NextGen will also permit automated rerouting of arriving aircraft in response to changing weather in the terminal area. Honeywell has developed predictive hail and lightning features for its 3D weather radar system, which allows for more efficient flight paths to avoid severe weather, as well as saving costly repairs to aircraft.

Ed Sayadian, ITT Exelis: ITT Exelis supports aviation weather initiatives via its SE2020 contract. Currently, ITT Exelis is working with several of its partners (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Weather Services International, United Airlines, and Rockwell Collins) to develop standards involving airborne calculations of turbulence.

Such standards are necessary so that differences in algorithmic approaches and operational inputs do not result in unacceptable deviations in airborne generated turbulence reports. Turbulence encounters are a major cause of flight crew and passenger injuries and efficient turbulence avoidance by pilots requires the availability and high reliability of in situ turbulence reports.

Providing standards will both promote the increase of turbulence reporting and the reliability of the resulting data. This will improve aviation safety, enable improved turbulence forecasting, increase operational efficiency, and decrease delays.

Posted in US Survey 2012

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