Impacts of haze on high-capacity airport operations

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Randall A. Skov, NOAA/NWS, Hampton, GA


Warm season, high inversion haze has long been noted as problematic to aviation over the Central and Eastern United States and over several large urban areas in the West. As air travel into major airports nears capacity, even slight reductions in visibility due to haze can cause significant delays within the National Airspace System. Within the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center area of responsibility, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, with its east-west operations, is impacted by haze more severely and more frequently than Charlotte's Douglas International Airport, with its primary north-south operations. Comparisons were made between airfield surface observations and aircraft arrival rate records for both airports to identify conditions where haze was present and whether it impacted airfield operations. In addition to actual haze conditions causing impacts to airfield operations, runway orientation and sun angle were also significant factors in determining the intensity and duration of the haze conditions. The paper concludes with recommended areas for further study to improve haze forecasts for major airports.