Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS)

ITWS logoThe Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) provides automated weather information for use by air traffic controllers, supervisors, pilots, and airline dispatch. As depicted in Figure 1, the ITWS integrates data and information from FAA and National Weather Service (NWS) sensors such as the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR), the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD), Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR), Low Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS), Automated Weather and Surface Observing Systems (AWOS/ASOS), lightning detection systems, NWS weather models, and aircraft via the Meteorological Data Collection and Reporting System (MDCRS).

ITWS Weather Products

Automated weather products produced by the ITWS include wind shear and microburst detection and predictions, storm cell intensity and direction of motion, lightning information, detailed winds in the terminal area, and a one hour storm forecast. The graphic and textual display of these products provides an easy-to-use interface that doesn't need meteorological interpretation. Figure 2 shows an example of an ITWS display. 

The ITWS was developed using a “rapid prototyping” methodology. The initial ITWS products were generated by Laboratory-developed functional prototypes that operated at Memphis (TN), Orlando (FL), Dallas/Fort Worth (TX) and New York (NY). These products were refined through meteorological analysis of salient weather events and feedback from operational FAA and real-time airline users of the products. The operational benefits of the ITWS (e.g., delay reduction) were assessed by both user interviews and analysis of operational data (such as actual delays, flight tracks, and weather data).

ITWS in Production

The Laboratory-generated algorithms for creating ITWS products were successfully transitioned to the FAA's ITWS full-scale development contractor, Raytheon Company. The installation of the production versions of the ITWS began at major airports starting in 2001. As of July 1, 2010, 32 of the production ITWS systems, which had been installed in major terminal areas, have been commissioned for live operations; two more sites are expected to be commissioned are expected shortly. Two additional ITWS systems were installed at FAA system maintenance facilities.

Lincoln Laboratory Technical Support for ITWS

The Laboratory is providing technical support to the FAA ITWS program in a number of areas:

  • Evolution of ITWS as an element of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)
  • Assessment of the operational benefits of ITWS at the production ITWS sites
  • Enhancements to the ITWS product generation algorithms
  • Assement of the use of ITWS products in new applications (e.g., use of ITWS terminal winds for wake vortex advisory systems)
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