Aviation user needs for convective weather forecasts
The prediction of convective weather is very important to aviation, since almost half of the serious delay at major airports in the warm season is caused by thunderstorms. The need for accurate 0-6 hr forecasts for NAS users has been the subject of extensive publications, forums, and advisory committees in the aviation weather community over the last several years (Wolfson, et al; 1997). The Convective Weather Product Development Team (PDT), a core team of scientists and engineers from NCAR, NSSL, and MIT LL, was formed in 1996 as part of the reorganization of the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program. The team is developing convective weather forecast algorithms that produce operationally useful products for both the terminal area and enroute airspace. The products are designed to meet specific users' air traffic planning and safety needs. Before major algorithm development began, PDT members visited terminal and enroute Air Traffic (AT) personnel and airline dispatchers to understand the forecast products that were currently available to them and their needs for a near future product. Also, in order to reach the pilot community, a pilot survey about existing convective weather information and how to improve it, was created and distributed at the OshKosh Fly-In in August of 1997. This needs assessment took advantage of interviewees that had extensively used state-of-the-art weather information products (ITWS) in an operational setting for years. Their requirements, based on personal experiences with operational products during convective weather events, were less stringent than those reported in the recent requirements document pertaining to ARTCC TMUs (Browne, et al; 1999). The results of these investigations were used in the creation of the DFW Terminal Convective Weather Forecast (TCWF) product and the National Convective Weather Forecast (NCWF) products that were demonstrated throughout the summer of 1998 (Hallowell, et al; 1999; Mueller, et al; 1999). These demonstrations also provided additional insight into user needs. In this paper we describe Air Traffic users and their specific responsibilities. We then summarize AT and airline needs based on interviews conducted in 1997 and 1998. Information on pilots' needs for convective weather information is presented at the end.