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Preliminary weather information gap analysis for UAS operations, revision 1

Published in:
Project Report ATC-437-REV-1, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

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.
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Summary

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...

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Airport surface traffic management decision support - perspectives based on tower flight data manager prototype

Summary

This report describes accomplishments and insights gathered during the development of decision support tools as part of the Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) program. This work was performed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The TFDM program integrated flight data, aircraft surveillance, information on weather and traffic flow constraints, and other data required to optimize airport configuration and arrival/departure management functions. The prototype has been evaluated in both human-in-the-loop simulations, and during operational tests at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport. In parallel, the Laboratory estimated future national operational benefits for TFDM decision support functions, using analysis and performance data gathered from major airports in the US. This analysis indicated that the greatest potential operational benefits would come from decision support tools that facilitate: i) managing runway queues and sequences, ii) tactical management of flight routes and times, impacted by weather and traffic constraints, and iii) managing airport configuration changes. Evaluation of TFDM prototype decision support functions in each of these areas provided valuable insights relative to the maturity of current capabilities and research needed to close performance gaps.
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Summary

This report describes accomplishments and insights gathered during the development of decision support tools as part of the Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) program. This work was performed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The TFDM program integrated flight data, aircraft surveillance, information on...

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Evaluation of Consolidated Storm Prediction for Aviation (CoSPA) 0-8 hour convective weather forecast using the airspace flow program blockage-based capacity forecast ("The Matrix")

Published in:
Project Report ATC-385, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

The CoSPA 0-8 hour convective weather forecast provides deterministic forecast products that can be used by strategic traffic management planners, and can be readily translated into forecasts of aviation capacity impacts for use in automated decision support tools. An operational CoSPA prototype was evaluated at several FAA Air Traffic Control facilities during the summer of 2010. As part of this evaluation, CoSPA forecasts were translated into forecasts of capacity impacts on traffic flows through two Flow Constrained Areas (FCAA05 and FCAA08) commonly used to control arrival traffic into the highly congested northeastern United States. This report describes an objective and operationally relevant evaluation of the accuracy of CoSPA-based forecasts of FCA capacity.
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Summary

The CoSPA 0-8 hour convective weather forecast provides deterministic forecast products that can be used by strategic traffic management planners, and can be readily translated into forecasts of aviation capacity impacts for use in automated decision support tools. An operational CoSPA prototype was evaluated at several FAA Air Traffic Control...

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Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) weather integration

Published in:
Project Report ATC-364, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

TCAS behavior in New England airspace is being monitored and analyzed, making use of an omni-directional 1030/1090 MHz receiver. The receiver system, located in Lexington, MA, and operated by M.I.T. Lincoln Laboratory, is used to record Resolution Advisories (RAs). Omni-directional receptions make it possible to examine the air-to-air messages exchanged between aircraft for coordination of RAs. Omni-directional reception rates are also being studied. The results indicated the percentage of aircraft that are TCAS equipped and the percentage of received signals that originate from TCAS and other systems. A third aspect of the program evaluates the availability of 1090 MHz Extended Squitter data for use in collision avoidance systems. Data is recorded continuously, and the busiest periods are selected for focused attention.
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Summary

TCAS behavior in New England airspace is being monitored and analyzed, making use of an omni-directional 1030/1090 MHz receiver. The receiver system, located in Lexington, MA, and operated by M.I.T. Lincoln Laboratory, is used to record Resolution Advisories (RAs). Omni-directional receptions make it possible to examine the air-to-air messages exchanged...

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Roadmap for weather integration into Traffic Flow Management Modernization (TFM-M)

Published in:
Project Report ATC-347, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

This report provides recommendations for aligning new Collaborative Air Traffic Management Technologies (CATM-T) with evolving aviation weather products to improve NAS efficiency during adverse (especially severe) weather conditions. Key gaps identified include 1. Improving or developing pilot convective storm avoidance models as well as models for route blockage and capacity in severe weather is necessary for automated congestion prediction and resolution. 2. Forecasts need to characterize uncertainty that can be used by CATM tools and, explicitly forecast key parameters needed for translation of weather products to capacity impacts. 3. Time based flow management will require substantial progress in both the translation modeling and in predicting appropriate storm avoidance trajectories. Near term efforts should focus on integration of the Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) with contemporary severe weather products such as the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS). 4. Human factors studies on product design to improve individual decision making, improved collaborative decision making in "difficult" situations, and the use of probabilistic products are also essential. 5. Studies need to be carried out to determine how well en route and terminal capacity currently is being utilized during adverse weather events so as to identify the highest priority areas for integrated weather-CATM system development.
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Summary

This report provides recommendations for aligning new Collaborative Air Traffic Management Technologies (CATM-T) with evolving aviation weather products to improve NAS efficiency during adverse (especially severe) weather conditions. Key gaps identified include 1. Improving or developing pilot convective storm avoidance models as well as models for route blockage and capacity...

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Initial studies of an objective model to forecast achievable airspace flow program throughput from current and forecast weather information

Published in:
Project Report ATC-343, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

Airspace capacity constraints caused by adverse weather are a major driver for enhanced Traffic Flow Management (TFM) capabilities. One of the most prominent TFM initiatives introduced in recent years is the Airspace Flow Program (AFP). AFPs are used to plan and manage flights through airspace constrained by severe weather. An AFP is deployed using "strategic" (i.e., 4-6 hour) weather forecasts to determine AFP traffic throughput rates. These rates are set for hourly periods. However, as convective weather continuously evolves, the achievable en route airspace throughput can fluctuate significantly over periods as short as 15-30 minutes. Thus, without tactical AFP adjustments, inefficiencies in available airspace usage can arise, often resulting in increased air traffic delay. An analysis of AFP usage in 2007 was conducted in order to (1) better understand the relationship between AFP parameters and convective weather characteristics, and (2) assess the potential use of an objective model for forecasting tactical AFP throughput. An en route airway blockage-based algorithm, using tactical forecast information from the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS), has been developed in order to objectively forecast achievable flow rates through AFP boundaries during convective weather. A description of the model and preliminary model results are presented.
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Summary

Airspace capacity constraints caused by adverse weather are a major driver for enhanced Traffic Flow Management (TFM) capabilities. One of the most prominent TFM initiatives introduced in recent years is the Airspace Flow Program (AFP). AFPs are used to plan and manage flights through airspace constrained by severe weather. An...

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Operational usage of the Route Availability Planning Tool during the 2007 convective weather season

Published in:
Project Report ATC-339, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

The Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT) is an integrated weather/air traffic management decision support tool that has been designed to help traffic managers better anticipate weather impacts on jet routes and thus improve NY departure route usage efficiency. A field study was conducted in 2007 to evaluate RAPT technical performance at forecasting route blockage, to assess RAPT operational use during adverse weather, and to evaluate RAPT benefits. The operational test found that RAPT guidance was operationally sound and timely in many circumstances. RAPT applications included increased departure route throughput, more efficient reroute planning, and more timely decision coordination. Estimated annual NY departure delay savings attributed to RAPT in 2007 totaled 2,300 hours, with a cost savings of $7.5 M. The RAPT field study also sought to develop a better understanding of NY traffic flow decision-making during convective weather impacts since the RAPT benefits in 2007 were significantly limited by a number of factors other than direct weather impacts. Observations were made of the multi-facility departure management decision chain, the traffic management concerns and responsibilities at specific FAA facilities, and the procedures and pitfalls of the current process for capturing and disseminating key information such as route/fix availability and restrictions.
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Summary

The Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT) is an integrated weather/air traffic management decision support tool that has been designed to help traffic managers better anticipate weather impacts on jet routes and thus improve NY departure route usage efficiency. A field study was conducted in 2007 to evaluate RAPT technical performance...

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Operational usage of the Route Availability Planning Tool during the 2007 convective weather season : executive summary

Published in:
Project Report ATC-339-1, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

The Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT) is an integrated weather/air traffic management decision support tool that has been designed to help traffic managers better anticipate weather impacts on jet routes and thus improve NY departure route usage efficiency. A field study was conducted in 2007 to evaluate RAPT technical performance at forecasting route blockage, to assess RAPT operational use during adverse weather, and to evaluate RAPT benefits. The operational test found that RAPT guidance was operationally sound and timely in many circumstances. RAPT applications included increased departure route throughput, more efficient reroute planning, and more timely decision coordination. Estimated annual NY departure delay savings attributed to RAPT in 2007 totaled 2,300 hours, with a cost savings of $7.5 M. The RAPT field study also sought to develop a better understanding of NY traffic flow decision-making during convective weather impacts since the RAPT benefits in 2007 were significantly limited by a number of factors other than direct weather impacts. Observations were made of the multi-facility departure management decision chain, the traffic management concerns and responsibilities at specific FAA facilities, and the procedures and pitfalls of the current process for capturing and disseminating key information such as route/fix availability and restrictions.
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Summary

The Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT) is an integrated weather/air traffic management decision support tool that has been designed to help traffic managers better anticipate weather impacts on jet routes and thus improve NY departure route usage efficiency. A field study was conducted in 2007 to evaluate RAPT technical performance...

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Analysis of operational alternatives to the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR)

Published in:
Project Report ATC-332, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

Possible alternatives to the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) are assessed. We consider both the low altitude wind shear detection service provided by TDWR and its role in reducing weather-related airport delays through its input to the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS). Airborne predictive wind shear (PWS) radars do not provide the broad area situational awareness needed to proactively reroute aircraft away from the affected runways. We considered in detail the alternative of using the ASR-9 Weather Systems Processor (WSP) and NEXRAD in lieu of TDWR. An objective metric for wind shear detection capability was calculated for each of these radars at all TDWR equipped airports. TDWR was uniformly superior by this metric, and at a number of the airports, the ASR-9/NEXRAD alternative scored so low as to raise questions whether it would be operationally acceptable. To assess airport weather delay reduction impact, we compared the accuracy of the high-benefit ITWS "Terminal Winds" product with and without TDWR input. Removal of the TDWR data would have increased the mean estimate error by a factor of 3 near the surface.
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Summary

Possible alternatives to the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) are assessed. We consider both the low altitude wind shear detection service provided by TDWR and its role in reducing weather-related airport delays through its input to the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS). Airborne predictive wind shear (PWS) radars do not...

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Assessment of air traffic control productivity enhancements from the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CWIS)

Published in:
Project Report ATC-325, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Summary

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) productivity benefits attributed to the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) were assessed using real-time observations of CIWS product usage during three multi-day thunderstorm events in 2005 at eight U.S. Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs). CIWS improved ATC productivity by: reducing the time required to develop, coordinate, and implement weather impact mitigation plans; increasing the number of safety and capacity-enhancing plans that were executed (e.g., more efficient, proactive rerouting and greater ability to keep routes open; [and] assisting with FAA staffing decisions. Time savings per consecutive weather day for Traffic Management Coordinators (TMCs) in an ARTCC typically were 20-95 minutes. The overall frequency of capacity-enhancing decisions increased by 177% relative to the CIWS benefits study conducted in 2003. The annual CIWS delay savings are in excess of 92,000 hours. Corresponding airline direct operations cost (DOC) savings exceeded $94M and passenger value of time (PVT) savings exceeded $201M. Annual jet fuel savings exceeded 11M gallons. The ability of the Cleveland ARTCC to develop and execute weather impact mitigation plans improved significantly (e.g., by 50-80%) when CIWS products were available to Area Supervisors as well as to the TMCs.
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Summary

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) productivity benefits attributed to the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) were assessed using real-time observations of CIWS product usage during three multi-day thunderstorm events in 2005 at eight U.S. Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs). CIWS improved ATC productivity by: reducing the time required to...

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