In this paper, we describe the current status of the CIWS, including initial operational results of ATC and airline use of the CIWS weather products. Key new capabilities provided by the CIWS include very high update rate products (to support tactical air traffic management), much improved echo-tops information, and fully automatic 2-hour convective forecasts using the latest scale separation storm tracking technologies. A centralized product generation and distribution architecture, using frame relay communications, has made it possible to economically integrate data from a large, heterogeneous set of radar sensors and drive displays at major terminal areas, en route centers in the corridors, the FAA Command Center, and many major airlines.
CIWS delay reduction benefits for 2003 were assessed by on-site observations and interviews during major convective weather events, end-of-season user interviews, and analysis of flight track data. Sixteen unique benefits categories associated with use of the CIWS products were identified during the 2003 storm season. The number of events for each benefit category and annual delay savings for two primary benefits realized in en route airspace (i.e., Keeping Routes Open Longer; Proactive, Efficient Reroutes) were quantified and will be discussed in the paper. Safety enhancing operational decisions included decisions on whether a ground stop needed to be implemented for specific airports and whether a closed air route could be reopened in the immediate future.
The paper concludes with a discussion of transitioning the CIWS concept exploration system to an operational NAS system, as well as near term CIWS enhancements. The enhancements include extension of coverage to Canadian airspace, improvements in both tactical and automated strategic convective weather forecasts, and interfacing the CIWS to air traffic management (ATM) decision support tools such as the Route Availability Planning Tool (RAPT), which is in use at the New York airports to increase departure rates from major airports in severe weather.