J3.2 Lightning Safety Guidance for Ramp Operations at Airports

Monday, 7 January 2019: 10:45 AM
North 225AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Wiebke Deierling, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and A. Klein, M. Steiner, K. Ikeda, and R. Bass

Lightning poses a safety risk to personnel working outdoors at airports. At larger United States (US) airports major airline and airport stakeholders have established safety procedures to mitigate such risks. Bringing people inside to safety during lightning risk periods, however, halts servicing of aircraft and may result in substantial air traffic delays. The safety procedures and lightning warning guidance employed by stakeholders varies widely across the US raising the question regarding best practices.

In this study we examine the risk of outdoor personnel exposed to lightning threats and the magnitude of traffic delays due to ramp closures (as opposed to other reasons) for a 3 months summer period and two major airports. The propagation of airport delays incurred from lightning-induced ramp closures through the national airspace system (NAS) was investigated by means of air traffic simulations. These traffic simulations took a variety of safety procedures, lightning data, human impacts and traffic demand scenarios into account. Based on the traffic simulation output, the monetary value of delays and unmitigated lightning risk was characterized and quantified from an economic safety–efficiency balance perspective. Furthermore, we also examined the accuracy and potential usability of lightning hazard predictions to identify opportunities for improved lightning guidance at airports.

Results will be presented from examining cost tradeoffs between unmitigated lightning risk and lightning traffic impacts in search of a “most effective” lightning ramp management operation that balances both efficiency and safety. Furthermore, based on ramp closure impacts to the NAS, risk analysis, and analysis of lightning forecast capabilities, some initial thoughts about improved lightning guidance for ramp operations at airports will be shared.

This research is in response to requirements and funding by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official policy or position of the FAA.

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