The Terminal Weather Information for Pilots (TWIP) program
The Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) is currently embarking on programs, such as the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) and Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR), that will significantly improve the aviation weather information in the terminal area. Given the great increase in the quantity and quality of terminal weather information, it would be highly desirable to provide this information directly to pilots rather than having to rely on voice communications. Providing terminal weather information automatically via data link would both enhance pilot awareness of weather hazards and reduce air traffic controller workload. This paper will describe current work in the area of providing direct pilot access to terminal weather information via existing data link capabilities, such as ACARS (Addressing, Communications and Reporting System). During the summer of 1994, the ITWS testbed systems at Orlando, FL and Memphis, TN provided real–time terminal weather information to pilots in the form of text and character graphics–based products via the ACARS VHF data link. This effort follows an earlier successful demonstration during the summer of 1993 at Orlando (Campbell, 1994). Two types of Terminal Weather lnformation for Pilots (TWIP) messages are generated: a text-only message and a character graphics map. In order to ensure their operational utility, these products were developed in consultation with an ad hoc pilot user group. The TWIP Text Message is intended for typical ACARS cockpit displays, which are roughly 20 characters wide by 10 lines high. The TWIP Character Graphics Depiction is intended for the cockpit printers available on some aircraft that are at least 40 characters wide. Both products are intended to provide strategic information to pilots about terminal weather conditions to aid flight planning and improve situational awareness of potential hazards.