Translating an Ensemble Weather Forecast into Operational Disruption for the National Airspace System

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Monday, 18 January 2010
John Huhn, The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA; and M. Duquette, D. Bright, J. Racy, G. Grosshans, and B. Sherman

Handout (539.1 kB)

Convective weather is responsible for a majority of air traffic delays each year as thunderstorms are a primary hazard to aviation both enroute and in the terminal domain. The National System Strategy Team (NSST) at the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Herndon, VA is responsible for the daily strategic planning process of air traffic management initiatives across the National Airspace System (NAS). This process becomes increasingly challenging when convective weather is forecast either at the synoptic or mesoscale domains.

The MITRE Corporation's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) are collaborating on a proof of concept illustrating automated probabilistic outputs to highlight the juxtaposition of convective weather forecast data and aircraft position data in the NAS. This was accomplished by using historical air traffic position data to get an “air traffic composite”. The composite data was then combined with the 22 member NWS Short Range Ensemble Forecast (SREF) model output with subsequent SPC post processing for specific parameters related to aviation weather impacts.

The premise of this research is based on current challenges within the Traffic Flow Management (TFM) and weather research communities to effectively translate timely and accurate weather forecast data into operational impact on the NAS. This area of research also begins to address NextGen initiatives regarding the autonomous translation of weather forecasts into air traffic impacts and making weather data transparent to the user.