23rd Conference on IIPS


The Next Generation Air Transportation System Weather Concept of Operations

Cheryl G. Souders, FAA, Washington, DC; and S. McGettigan, J. May, and E. R. Dash

During the past year 2006, the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) has published two key documents that define the vision and concepts for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). The JPDO released the initial version of the Concept of Operations for the NGATS (Version 0.2; July 24, 2006) as well as the NGATS Weather Concept of Operations (Version 1.0; May 13, 2006). While both documents will evolve over time to reflect lessons learned from research and operational experience, the NGATS Weather Concept compliments the overall NGATS concept by providing detailed definition of the weather elements of that document.

This paper outlines the NGATS weather concepts for 2025 and presents the core elements and direction of the NGATS Weather Concept of Operations (ConOps), Version 1.0. A key purpose of the NGATS Weather ConOps is to facilitate the integration of NGATS-critical weather information with NGATS decision oriented tools. Specifically, the NGATS Weather ConOps provides:

·Guiding principles of operation for weather support and the manner in which they relate to NGATS principles of operations;

·Major concepts and features of future weather support; and

·Descriptions of the major functionalities of weather support.

The NGATS Weather ConOps establishes that the primary role of weather information is to enable the identification of where and when aircraft can or cannot fly due to weather impacts. Weather information is not just an end product to be viewed in a stand-alone display. Rather, weather information is designed to integrate with and support NGATS decision-oriented automation capabilities and human decision-making processes. Future NGATS decision making will migrate from mostly human to mostly automated machine to machine (M2M) applications as automated decision making proves its value.

To achieve this transition and facilitate common situational awareness across NGATS decision makers, the NGATS Weather ConOps identifies a single authoritative source of NGATS weather information. This source is designed the Aviation Weather 4-D Designated Data Sources (4-D Weather). Today, weather information is drawn from numerous sources through point-to-point communications. Under NGATS, the numerous weather information sources will continue to be available but the access will be through network enabled operations. The 4-D Weather will be a subset of the Network Enabled Weather Information Sharing (NEWIS) "virtual database" and it will be the official source for weather information used to support the NGATS Air Traffic Service decisions, both human and automated. The concept of routinely issuing weather products becomes outdated since the 4-D Weather is constantly changing.

The 4-D Weather forecasts will include probability information to quantitatively represent forecast uncertainty, and methods will be developed to use weather probability information in establishing and assessing risk in NGATS decision making. The application of the weather probability information will increase NGATS effective use of weather information, independent of any increased fidelity and/or accuracy in weather forecasts.

Aircraft systems are also important components of the NGATS Weather ConOps. Advanced aircraft systems, such as synthetic vision, gust alleviation, wake vortex suppression, and in-flight icing, support weather mitigation; thereby reducing the impact of weather on aircraft safety and airspace utilization. Further, weather information both to and from the aircraft via data link communications are essential. Aircraft weather observations are transmitted to ground-based systems for integration with other NEWIS weather sources, and even to other aircraft. Conversely, ground-based 4-D Weather information is provided to the cockpit in response to specific aircraft requests or as a broadcast of weather information updates including weather advisories and warnings.

In summary, 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 through direct integration of weather information into NGATS decision-oriented automation capabilities and human decision-making processes. The JPDO vision for NGATS weather capabilities is a key enabler for achieving the 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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