7.1 Aviation Weather Observations Using Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles

Wednesday, 6 October 2004: 10:30 AM
John J. Murray, NASA/LARC, Hampton, VA; and S. M. Green, M. Andrews, M. A. Shapiro, J. McCarthy, M. M. Cairns, R. S. Eckman, and M. A. Avery

Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) have the potential to significantly and specifically fill current and future gaps in data bases of atmospheric state variables that are used to characterize and forecast aviation weather. These UAV observations could be used to improve air traffic management, aviation safety and aviation security especially in, near or above severe atmospheric conditions that preclude investigation by manned vehicles (e.g., volcanoes, jet stream headwinds, severe turbulence, WMD’s, etc.). This study primarily investigates measurement requirements for UAV observations to enhance the performance of nowcasting tools and short-range numerical weather predictions to support current and future tactical (0-2 hour) and strategic (greater than 2 hour) weather support for flight operations. This includes requirements for critical measurement thresholds of temperature, water vapor, winds, aerosols and chemical species needed to resolve both the basic atmospheric state and aviation weather hazards such as turbulence, icing, convective weather and volcanic effluents. The scope of the study includes the required parameters, resolutions, and scales for in situ, and remote sensing of flight path, forward looking, nadir profile, and dispensed profile observations. These thresholds are developed for measurements that would be taken by UAV’s operating within the airspace system as well as by high-altitude long endurance (HALE) platforms operating well above conventional air traffic schemes. This will facilitate the improvement and development of vehicles, systems, sensors and deployment methodologies for UAV’s with sufficient altitude, range, endurance and payload capacity to serve as aviation weather observing platforms.
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