PD1.2 Meeting NextGen weather ATM integration goals, a critique

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 4:30 PM
3A (Washington State Convention Center)
John McCarthy, Aviation Weather Associates, Inc., Palm Desert, CA; and N. Stoer
Manuscript (216.2 kB)

From early 2004 to 2008 a group of scientists, managers, and engineers, including the authors, met at the JPDO Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) offices, as the Weather Integrated Product Team (IPT). This later became the Weather Working Group (2008 to date) of the JPDO. A 2015-2025 weather vision that suited delay-reducing and safety-improving aspects of NextGen were created with this activity. NextGen weather involves the efforts of the FAA, NASA, NOAA and NWS, and DOD (Navy and Air Force). The Office of the President through the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was also engaged. Critical to NextGen is a strong interagency focus of cooperation to allow the effort to maximize a broad array of capabilities that each agency possesses.

The vision for NextGen weather focused on four major elements:

1. Improved future weather observations, including broad adaptation of weather sensing for improved convective storm analysis and in-situ airborne reporting of phenomena. Potential of phased-array radars was addressed.

2. Improvements in forecast science, including the incorporation of very high resolution CONUS-scaled numerical prediction models with high resolution NEXRAD-based thunderstorm extrapolations to 2 hours, and model output forecasts with 3 kilometer gridsize out to eight hours. Additionally emphasis is to be placed on converting forecast output to probability functions, rather than deterministic products; the NextGen data domain is expected to be derived from probabality fields.

3. Development of a weather data cloud combining the state of the atmosphere, observations, reports, sensor data, analyzed fields and forecast data, into the NextGen 4-Dimensional Weather Cube. This data base would be a net-centric virtural concept allowing all users to apply web-enabled concepts for access. This effort is closely coupled to the develop a core weather network-enabled dissemination capability to allow for ease of network transfer of data. (The NextGen Network-Enabled Weather (NNEW) capability is already functioning at the laboratory level.)

4. Development of a consolidated convection weather product. At the time of this writing, the multi-labortory model initiative called the Consolidated Storm Prediction for Aviation (CoSPA) appears to be having a successful demonstration in the summer of 2010 at many FAA locations, including Air Traffic Control System Command Center. Details of CoSPA are at http://www.ll.mit.edu/mission/aviation/aviationwxresearch/cospa.html,

5. The ultimate objective of NextGen Weather is translation of weather avoidance fields in such a way that Tactical Decision Aids used by all ATM operators and dispatchers can make full use of weather information to improve the safety and capacity of the NAS.

Since the NextGen Weather Vision was established, the authors ask how is NextGen Weather proceeding? What has been derived from the vision deliberations? They include:

• Much more tightly coupled collaboration between the NWS and FAA.

• 4D Wx Data Cube as a NWS effort. Contracts are expected in 2011.

• Observation and forecast improvements in the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) including 2010 field demonstration of a Consolidated Storm Prediction for Aviation (CoSPA) model.

• NWS Aviation Weather Services Branch development of a variety of advanced forecasts for aviation.

• NextGen Network Enabled Weather (NNEW) with demonstrations in 2011.

• Increased researcher and user involvement in probabilistic forecast research.

• New initiatives to directly incorporate weather “objects” into Air Traffic Management automated decision support systems.

• Renewed emphasis on understanding the impacts of weather on capacity and safety.

We are now some seven years into the start of NextGen. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the level of success to date of the NextGen Weather-enabled concept. Was there sufficient coordination between agencies? Did the broad vision remain intact as the weather portion of the program evolved? What are the areas needed improvement in either science or interagency coordination?

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