A wind forecast algorithm to support Wake Turbulence Mitigation for Departures (WTMD)
January 20, 2008
Turbulence associated with wake vortices generated by arriving and departing aircraft poses a potential safety risk to other nearby aircraft, and as such this potential risk may apply to aircraft operating on Closely Spaced Parallel Runways (CSPRs). Aircraft separation standards are imposed to mitigate this potential risk. The FAA and NASA are investigating application of wind-dependent procedures for improved departure operations that would safely reduce spacing restrictions to allow increased airport operating capacity. These procedures are referred to collectively as Wake Turbulence Mitigation for Departures (WTMD). An important component of WTMD is a Wind Forecast Algorithm (WFA) developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory. The algorithm is designed to predict when runway crosswind conditions will remain persistently favorable to preclude transport of aircraft departure wakes into the path of aircraft on parallel runways (Figure 1). The algorithm has two distinct components for predicting the winds at the surface (33 ft) and aloft up to 1000 ft (the altitude by which an alternate form of separation would be applied by Air Traffic Control to aircraft departing the parallel runways, typically 15 degree or greater divergence in aircraft paths). The surface component forecast applies a statistical approach using recent observations of winds from 1-minute ASOS observations. The winds-aloft component relies on the 2 to 4 hour wind forecasts from NCEP's Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) model. The baseline version of the algorithm was developed and tested using data from St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL). Algorithm performance was evaluated using 1-minute ASOS observations and crosswind component measurements taken from a dedicated Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system. The algorithm was also demonstrated and evaluated at Houston George Bush International Airport (IAH). Use of the WFA is planned for 8 other airports deemed likely to derive significant benefit from WTMD procedures. The operational concept of WTMD for use by Air Traffic Control (ATC) includes additional decision levels beyond the WFA forecast. These include a check for VFR ceiling and visibility conditions, and final enablement by a human controller. More details concerning WTMD can be found in Lang et al. (2005) and Lang et al. (2007). A more complete description of the WFA is given in Robasky and Clark (2008). The early history of WFA development is detailed in Cole and Winkler (2004).