23rd Conference on IIPS


An Update on Activities of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) Weather Integrated Product Team (IPT) supporting the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS or NexGen)

Mark Andrews, Weather IPT, Washington, DC; and R. Heuwinkel, J. McCarthy, and S. Brown

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) is being planned in the JPDO, to address at least a two-fold increase in air traffic operations by the year 2025, and a three-fold increase by 2035. Since weather plays a major role in aviation safety and system capacity, the overall concept included an aviation weather IPT to develop a variety of elements suitable for the future systems. The NGATS is likely to involve a high degree of automation, in weather information development, in air traffic control and traffic flow management, quite different from today's human operated processes. Spatial and temporal dimensions will be developed for both weather and air traffic control that will use stochastic/probabilistic fields to measure risk assessment for weather hazards and air traffic conflicts.

The Weather IPT has developed a set of core values, a vision for the future, and an operations concept for NGATS, to be folded into the larger domain of the system. A major focus this past year has been on “Early Victories” for NGATS weather for the year 2012 (also called weather Initial Operational Capabilities). Highlights of the development include (1) integration of weather information into air traffic management decision systems, viewed as the driving force behind the Weather IPT under the assumption that automated decision support tools will be the backbone of the new automation system; (2) the development of a 4-dimensional cube of weather data that will become the authorative data source for global air traffic management, including civilian and military needs (currently called the NGATS Network Enabled Weather (NNEW) System, a push/pull web-based concept to provide gridded basic and forecast weather parameters that can by accessed system users for various products and decision aids; (3) advanced concepts of aviation forecasting that include a high degree of automation, and forecaster “over the loop” to insure quality products when necessary; (4) the development of a means of establishing probabilistic forecasts and measures of product/data reliability; and (5); a suite of observation systems that involve a new generation of aircraft, satellite, and weather radar sensors to improve numerical models on fine scales, most suitable to the needs of aviation.

The NGATS Weather ConOps poses a new way of looking at the role of weather information. It is not about the weather products themselves; rather it is about enabling better air transportation decision-making. The authoritative source for weather information facilitates common situational awareness and relieves stakeholders of the need for deciding between potentially competing or conflicting sources for flight planning and air traffic management decision-making. This streamlined architecture for information access also reduces operations and maintenance costs for both the government and users, since today's complex maze of point-to-point interfaces is a thing of the past. Direct integration of weather information and decision support tools ensure that NGATS is supported by both NGATS-relevant weather information and Weather-Savvy decision support automation. This powerful combination better informs decision makers of options, assists in the identification of potential decision risks, and poses suggested solutions along with projections of NGATS impacts. This national vision for NGATS weather capability is a key enabler for the achievement of NGATS' goals and objectives.

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Session 9B, Next Generation Air Transportation System [NGATS]
Thursday, 18 January 2007, 1:30 PM-5:30 PM, 217A

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