The Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS)
May 13, 2002
The FAA Operational Evolution Plan (OEP) identified en route severe weather as one of the four problems that must be addressed if the US. air transportation system is to alleviate the growing gap between the demand for air transportation and the ability of the system to meet that demand. Convective weather in highly congested airspace is of particular concern because many of the delays arise from these corridors. For example, rerouting aircraft around areas of actual or predicted weather can be very difficult when one must be concerned about controller overload in the weather free sectors. When major terminals also underlie the en route airspace, convective weather has even greater adverse impacts. The principal thrust to date in addressing this problem has been "strategic" collaborative routing as exemplified by the "Spring 2000" and "Spring 2001" initiatives. However, success of the strategic approach embodied in these initiatives depends on the ability to accurately forecast convective weather impacts two or more hours in advance. Limitations in the forecast accuracy necessitate development of a companion "tactical" convective weather capability. In this paper, we describe a major new FAA initiative, the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS). The objective of this project, which is currently in the concept exploration phase, is to improve tactical convective weather decision support for congested en route airspace. A real time operational demonstration, which was begun in July 2001 in the Great Lakes corridor, will be extended to the Northeast corridor in 2002. In the sections that follow, we describe the operational needs that motivated the ClWS initiative, the technology under investigation, the concept exploration test bed and summer 2001 operational experience, and the near term plans for the CIWS concept exploration.