1.1 Integrated national plan for aviation weather: Vision, goals, and strategies

Monday, 4 October 2004: 10:30 AM
Mark Andrews, National Weather Service, Silver Spring, MD; and J. McCarthy

The VISION 100 FAA reauthorization bill (P.L. 108-176) provides for the creation of a small and focused Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO). Working in close collaboration with the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security, NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy and other experts from the public and private sectors, the JPDO is developing a National Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System. The JPDO will ensure that planning and execution of the plan are coordinated across government and industry. The National Plan – a roadmap for what the aviation system of the future will be – has six overarching goals to (1) Promote economic growth and create jobs; (2) expand system flexibility and deliver capacity to meet future demands; (3) tailor services to customer needs; (4) ensure national defense readiness; (5) promote aviation safety and environmental stewardship; and (6) retain and enhance U.S. leadership and economic competitiveness in global aviation. Critical to the success of the JDPO vision is a comprehensive weather vision which must be integrated into the overall JDPO vision. Icing, thunderstorms, turbulence, fog, rain, and snow all threaten aircraft safety and create delays throughout the national airspace system. In fact, adverse weather accounts for more than 40 percent of all aviation accidents. Recent studies show that (a) 60 percent of the delays that airspace users experience are attributed to potentially avoidable weather situations; (b) 90 percent of general aviation accidents caused by encountering unanticipated weather result in fatalities; and (c) avoidable weather delays cost the nation’s airlines, cargo carriers and other users in excess of $4 billion per year due to missed schedules, and dislocation of aircraft, crew and passengers. Without significant improvements in the ability to forecast weather better, air traffic delays will increase exponentially as air traffic rises. Improved forecasts are critical to meeting future capacity needs because they will allow significantly better planning for the use of airport resources and aircraft flows, allowing greater safety, capacity, and efficiency of the national airspace system.

The Integrated National Plan for Aviation Weather primary goals are (1) to improve and optimize systems for observing the atmosphere and collecting and analyzing weather data to facilitate increasingly accurate weather observations, forecasts, analyses, and warnings; (2) to provide the necessary changes to requirements and policies and develop new tools, technologies, and procedures to ensure weather data and forecasts provide critical safety and capacity enhancements; (3) to facilitate a government, industry, and academic partnership that shares knowledge and resources to achieve critical weather forecasting advancements; and (4) to develop robust metrics to assess the effectiveness and cost-benefits of new technologies and procedures to ensure they meet the needs of all users. The full paper will provide the completed Integrated National Plan for Aviation Weather.

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