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Airport Wind Observations Architectural Analysis(2.4 MB)

Published in:
Project Report ATC-443, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

Airport wind information is critical for ensuring safe aircraft operations and for managing runway configurations. Airports across the National Airspace System (NAS) are served by a wide variety of wind sensing systems that have been deployed over many decades. This analysis presents a survey of existing systems and user requirements, identifies potential shortfalls, and offers recommendations for improvements to support the long-term goals of the FAA NextGen system.
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Summary

Airport wind information is critical for ensuring safe aircraft operations and for managing runway configurations. Airports across the National Airspace System (NAS) are served by a wide variety of wind sensing systems that have been deployed over many decades. This analysis presents a survey of existing systems and user requirements...

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Observations of a 25 January 2010 gravity wave in the New York City metropolitan area and its impact on air traffic

Published in:
2nd Aviation, Range and Aerospace Meteorology Special Symp. on Weather-Air Traffic Management Integration, 22-27 January 2011.

Summary

A strong low pressure system moved through the Northeast United States on 25 January 2010. As the day progressed, a north-south line of convection formed ahead of an approaching cold front and intensified very rapidly as it passed over the four major New York City airports. Exceptionally strong winds and low-level shears occurred throughout the terminal areas and forced arriving aircraft to divert to alternate airports, hold in the air and on the ground, or abort the landing approach. Analysis shows that a narrow but intense squall line developed as a result of a gravity wave or buoyancy wave and caused vertical shear of the horizontal winds from the surface up through cruise flight levels throughout all of the Terminal Radar Approach Control airspace. Air traffic control planning procedures are examined because the extent and severity of the weather was underestimated; consequently, air traffic managers over-delivered aircraft which lead to excessive airborne holding in regions of known turbulence. Although not available to the operational aviation community at the time, evidence is also shown that the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory experimental High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model forecasted the event. HRRR supplemental output fields could have provided the spatial and temporal resolution necessary for Managers to plan and execute an orderly reduction in air traffic demand, which, in-turn, would have improved safety and significantly reduced passenger delays. A framework for incorporating HRRR data into Air Traffic Management (ATM) Decision Support Tools and specific ATM Collaborative Decision Making guidance is offered.
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Summary

A strong low pressure system moved through the Northeast United States on 25 January 2010. As the day progressed, a north-south line of convection formed ahead of an approaching cold front and intensified very rapidly as it passed over the four major New York City airports. Exceptionally strong winds and...

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Comparing convective weather avoidance models and aircraft-based data

Published in:
89th ARAM Special Symp., 4 August 2008.

Summary

The Convective Weather Avoidance Model (CWAM), developed in collaboration with NASA, translates convective weather information into a Weather Avoidance Field (WAF), to determine if pilots will route around convective regions. The WAF provides an estimate of the probability of pilot deviation around convective weather in en route airspace as a function of time, horizontal location, and flight altitude [1][2]. The results of the WAF can used to create reroutes around regions of convective weather where pilots are more likely to deviate. If reliable WAF information is provided to the cockpit and ground, pilot decisions may become more predictable, simplifying the task of air traffic control in convective weather. The improvement and validation of CWAM requires inference of pilot intent from flight trajectory data, which is challenging. The process currently involves laborious human review of the results of automated deviation detection algorithms. Both previous CWAM studies and a recent validation study [3] illustrate the difficulties and limitations of attempting to infer pilot intent from flight trajectory data. Furthermore, observed flight tracks may not correctly represent pilot preference. In some instances, pilots may have penetrated airspace that they would rather have avoided or they may have avoided airspace that was easily passable. In order to improve and assess the accuracy of the WAF, it is desirable to compare WAF predictions of pilot intent with direct evidence of the airborne experience during weather encounters in en route airspace, such as normal acceleration. To achieve this, a series of flights using a research aircraft was conducted. In the summer of 2008, four research flights (three on 17 July and one on 14 August) were flown in and around convective activity in the upper Midwestern United States to gather aircraft data that could be correlated to the WAF and other remotely-sensed weather data. The aircraft, a Rockwell Sabreliner Model 50 research aircraft (similar to the Sabreliner Model 40 production model) owned by Rockwell-Collins, flew through and around convective activity while recording on-board accelerations for comparison to the WAF deviation probabilities encountered along the flight trajectory. Aircraft state data, on-board weather radar images, video, photographs and pilot narrative from the cockpit were also collected. This paper briefly describes the CWAM model and WAF. Description of the data collection methodology is then presented. Following that section are descriptions of the flights comparing radar data from the flight deck with ground-based weather radar and the WAF. Visual observations and pilot narrative from the flight deck are also presented. Next, the normal acceleration data from on-board accelerometer data are compared with WAF. Finally, conclusions and suggestions for further study are presented.
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Summary

The Convective Weather Avoidance Model (CWAM), developed in collaboration with NASA, translates convective weather information into a Weather Avoidance Field (WAF), to determine if pilots will route around convective regions. The WAF provides an estimate of the probability of pilot deviation around convective weather in en route airspace as a...

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A case study of mid-level turbulence outside regions of active convection

Published in:
8th Conf. on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology (ARAM), 10-15 January 1999.

Summary

Historically, the principal focus of research on clear-air turbulence of concern to aircraft has been on jet stream and mountain (orographic) induced turbulence. Relatively little research has focused on the turbulence hazard outside of, but in the vicinity of, convective storms, known as Convective Induced Turbulence (CIN). In this paper, we present our analysis requested by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the meteorological conditions leading to severe turbulence and near loss of flight control of a commercial passenger jet and find that they fall into the CIN category. On 12 May 1997, at approximately 1929 UT, an American Airlines Airbus A300 en route from Boston, MA to Miami, FL encountered severe turbulence off the coast of West Palm Beach, FL. Near the time of the incident the crew had been directed to hold at 16,000 ft because of weather and traffic near Miami International. While approaching the holding position, the aircraft experienced severe turbulence and dropped over 3000 vertical feet in 30 seconds. A detailed postevent analysis by the NTSB failed to find any causal evidence for the turbulence and no single sensor, data set, or pilot report examined by the NTSB provided justification for the magnitude of the event. Our independent analysis of the incident was conducted primarily using recorded Miami WSR-88D base data. The analysis revealed a small-scale vertical shear zone may have emanated from a thunderstorm upstream of the Airbus. Animated cross-sectional images also suggested that a rotor may have propagated with the mean wind and intersected the flight path at the time the severe turbulence was reported. This paper will focus on meteorological conditions that led to the upset and provide evidence for several possible causes of the turbulence.
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Summary

Historically, the principal focus of research on clear-air turbulence of concern to aircraft has been on jet stream and mountain (orographic) induced turbulence. Relatively little research has focused on the turbulence hazard outside of, but in the vicinity of, convective storms, known as Convective Induced Turbulence (CIN). In this paper...

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