Preliminary weather information gap analysis for UAS operations, revision 1
November 2, 2017
Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) are rapidly increasing. For example, 2017 has seen dramatically increased low altitude UAS usage for disaster relief and by first responders. The ability to carry out these operations, however, can be strongly impacted by adverse weather conditions. This report documents a preliminary quick-look identification and assessment of gaps in current weather decision support for UAS operations. An initial set of surveys and interviews with UAS operators identified 12 major gaps. These gaps were then prioritized based on the importance of the weather phenomena to UAS operations and the current availability of adequate weather information to UAS operators. Low altitude UAS operations are of particular concern. The lack of observations of ceiling, visibility, and winds near most low altitude UAS operational locations causes the validation of numerical weather forecasts of weather conditions for those locations to be the highest priority. Hazardous weather alerting for convective activity and strong surface winds are a major concern for UAS operations that could be addressed in part by access to existing FAA real time conventional aircraft weather products.