4.2 Evolving the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) Tool

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 8:45 AM
206A (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Stephanie Avey, NWS/NCEP/AWC, Kansas City, MO; and A. Cross and D. Vietor

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) tool is designed to be an intuitive web-based platform that presents weather conditions for short-distance and low-altitude flights to non-weather experts quickly and effectively. Having timely and accurate weather information is crucial for the flight planning needs of the HEMS community.

The Aviation Weather Center (AWC) has been working closely with FAA partners from the Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) and the Aviation Weather Demonstration and Evaluation (AWDE) Services group to enhance the ceiling and visibility capabilities within the tool, as well as the usability of the tool to meet user preferences. An updated gridded ceiling and visibility analysis product, as well as a forecast for ceiling and visibility, are two recent improvements based on user evaluation results that are set for operational implementation in early spring 2020. Evaluations have shown that users span well beyond helicopter pilots, and therefore the tool must evolve to accommodate all low level flight users, including UAS/UAM users.

To meet this evolution, AWC will be incorporating the HEMS tool capabilities into the same framework as their one-stop-shop tool for general aviation users, the Graphical Forecasts for Aviation (GFA). The Low Altitude GFA (GFA-LA) will continue to meet the needs of the HEMS community, and will provide better consistency with other products across www.aviationweather.gov providing a common user experience for all aviation users. Recent updates to the HEMS tool, as well as future plans to evolve HEMS into GFA-LA will be presented.

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