J36.5 The Analysis of Short-Term Operational Wind Forecasts and Implications for Aircraft Operations in Terminal Areas

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 9:45 AM
257AB (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Timothy Bonin, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA; and W. J. Dupree, R. F. Ferris, D. D. Moradi, and D. Clark

Winds in and around the terminal airspace critically impact air traffic control at airports, particularly at those where the number of operations (takeoffs and landings) is near maximum capacity. Wind shear, both horizontally and in height, can lead to compression when the separation between sequential flights lining up for landing is reduced as a result of differential headwinds along the flight trajectory. Compression often leads to a reduced landing rate, which needs to be considered by air traffic control in scheduling of flights. Wind shifts also impact operations at airports. After a significant wind shift caused by a cold front, sea breeze, or gust front, runways may be reconfigured so that operations are realigned with the wind. Accurate short-term forecasts of wind shift timing is critical to minimize the loss of operations when the runway configuration changes.

The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) is a short-term numerical weather prediction model run by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) each hour that produces winds forecasts available for aviation weather systems. In this study, wind forecasts from the HRRR are analyzed with a focus on performance in operationally sensitive conditions, such as during wind shifts and compression events.

Herein, the accuracy of the HRRR model is analyzed at several airports where scheduled operations are near capacity, resulting in susceptibility to wind delays. The forecasted timing and magnitude of wind shifts are analyzed and compared with observations. Forecasts for winds aloft pertaining to wind compression are also examined. Individual case studies are presented from times when winds adversely affected aircraft operations, resulting in delays or ground stops. Implications of the use of the winds forecasts operationally are discussed in addition to possible alternative wind forecast options.

DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release. Distribution is unlimited.
This material is based upon work supported by the United States Air Force under Air Force Contract No. FA8702-15-D-0001. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Air Force

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