Analysis of operational alternatives to the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR)
February 26, 2007
MIT Lincoln Laboratory Report ATC-332
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.