Poster Session P1.1 The National Aviation Weather Program: An Update on Implementation

Monday, 4 October 2004
Thomas S. Fraim, NOAA/OFCM, Silver Spring, MD; and M. M. Cairns and A. R. Ramirez

Handout (105.9 kB)

Weather impacts the safe and efficient flow of aircraft within the National Airspace System (NAS). Statistics show that weather is a contributing factor in over 30% of accidents involving general aviation as well as aircraft operating in scheduled and nonscheduled commercial service. Over the last several years, significant work has been accomplished by federal agencies, private weather providers, and the airline industry to develop and field new systems and products designed to provide the aviation users with weather information for better decision making. New systems for observing, processing, and disseminating weather information have significantly increased the amount of user friendly information available to decision makers. New weather products containing relevant information are being developed and provided to end users on the ground and in the cockpit. Not only are these systems and products contributing to a safer NAS, as shown by recent statistics, they are contributing to the improved flow of traffic as well. The weather information available to all those involved in the operation of the NAS, including traffic management personnel, pilots, dispatchers, and controllers, is helping to reduce delays and improve the safe flow of traffic during times of adverse weather.

Although the actual development of new systems and products is done by federal agencies and private entities, the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research (OFCM) coordinates requirements and priorities for aviation weather research and services through various interagency groups. These groups include the National Aviation Weather Program Council, the Committee for Aviation Weather Services and Research and its Working Group for Volcanic Ash, the Committee for Environmental Information Systems and Communications and its Working Group for Meteorological Codes, and the Committee for Integrated Observing Systems and its Working Group for Atmospheric Observing Systems. This paper briefly reviews the role OFCM has played in the aviation weather program and then highlights recent key events in promoting coordination, cooperation, and improved aviation weather services to the end users. In 2003, an assessment of the aviation weather services with respect to weather related accident rates was completed. The assessment analyzed National Transportation Safety Board accident statistics, projected accident rates forward to 2007, and compared the results to the ten year accident rate reduction goal established by the 1997 Gore Commission. Also in 2003, an updated inventory of weather products and systems research and development was completed. This report helps focus aviation weather research and development and through annual updates will assist managers in prioritizing work on the highest priority weather hazards. In June 2004, OFCM spearheaded an international conference on volcanic ash and aviation safety with the goal of mitigating the impact of volcanic ash on aviation operations. Finally, an interagency group is addressing observing issues including changes to the observation of freezing and frozen precipitation and changes for Pilot Report (PIREP) and Runway Visual Range (RVR) observations and reporting. This paper also stresses the importance of training, education, and outreach to ensure the effective implementation of new systems and products and to ensure all stakeholders share a common understanding of the components of the national aviation weather program.

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