Poster Session P1.5 Improving Convective Weather Operations in Highly Congested Airspace with the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS)

Monday, 4 October 2004
James E. Evans, MIT Lincoln Lab., Lexington, MA; and K. Carusone, M. M. Wolfson, M. Robinson, E. Ducot, and B. Crowe

Handout (1.8 MB)

Reducing delays due to thunderstorms in congested airspace is a major objective of Air Traffic Management as described in the FAA’s Operational Evolution Plan and Flight Plan 2004-2008. Much of the air traffic delay that is so costly to the airlines and the flying public is incurred during severe weather in the highly congested Great Lakes and Northeast Corridors. This congested airspace delay problem is being addressed by a combination of “strategic” collaborative traffic flow management using extended range (greater than 2 hour) forecasts such as the CCFP and, by tactical adjustments to the “strategic plans” using the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS).

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.

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