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Modeling Convective Weather Avoidance of Arrivals in Terminal Airspace

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Modeling Convective Weather Avoidance of Arrivals in Terminal Airspace
Michael Matthews, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA; and R. DeLaura
Manuscript (2.5 MB)

Poster PDF (183.8 kB)

For several years the NASA sponsored Convective Weather Avoidance Model (CWAM) has been under development at Lincoln Lab to correlate pilot behavior with observable weather parameters available from convective weather systems. To date, the current CWAM has focused primarily on the enroute airspace used by aircraft at cruise altitude. At these altitudes there is a strong correlation between the observable echo tops from the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) and the probability that a pilot will deviate around weather. The CWAM has lead to the development of a Weather Avoidance Field (WAF) that combines the echo tops and vertically integrated liquid (VIL) into a probabilistic forecast of the likelihood of pilot deviation. In recent years the WAF has become widely acceptance as a reliable indicator of the impact of convective weather on air traffic operations.

This paper will explore the adaptation of the CWAM into the terminal airspace with a focus on the weather impact on arrival decision making. A database of convective weather impacts on several major terminals from 2009 has been collected and identification of the impact on arriving aircraft has begun. Past studies of terminal weather impact have identified aircraft that penetrated severe weather or made clear deviations around convective cells within the terminal. This study will expand the definition of an impact to identify pilot decision making occurring outside of the terminal with regard to the expected weather impact upon arrival in the terminal. Examples include rerouting to an alternate corner post, holding in enroute airspace, or diverting to an alternate airport when weather is expected along the planned terminal trajectory. These types of terminal weather avoidance decisions can often be made many miles outside of the terminal.

The enroute CWAM uses spatial filters applied to the echo tops and VIL to obtain the best correlation between the weather and pilot behavior. This paper will evaluate the current CWAM filters and identify alternate spatial filters or additional weather products that may best correlate pilot decision making in the terminal. Ultimately the goal of this work is provide ATC managers and automated decision supports tools with a weather avoidance field for effective management of convective weather in terminal airspace.