Integrating advanced weather forecast technologies into air traffic management decision support
June 1, 2006
Explicit integration of aviation weather forecasts with the National Airspace System (NAS) structure is needed to improve the development and execution of operationally effective weather impact mitigation plans and has become increasingly important due to NAS congestion and associated increases in delay. This article considers several contemporary weather-air traffic management (ATM) integration applications: the use of probabilistic forecasts of visibility at San Francisco, the Route Availability Planning Tool to facilitate departures from the New York airports during thunderstorms, the estimation of en route capacity in convective weather, and the application of mixed-integer optimization techniques to air traffic management when the en route and terminal capacities are varying with time because of convective weather impacts. Our operational experience at San Francisco and New York coupled with very promising initial results of traffic flow optimizations suggests that weather-ATM integrated systems warrant significant research and development investment. However, they will need to be refined through rapid prototyping at facilities with supportive operational users.