12.1 Investigating the Impacts of Specific Weather Phenomena on Airport Operations and Runway Configuration

Thursday, 10 January 2013: 3:30 PM
Room 17A (Austin Convention Center)
Robert S. Lee, AvMet Applications Inc., Reston, VA; and C. Craun
Manuscript (298.2 kB)

An airport's capacity and ground management is highly dependent upon its chosen runway configuration. The National Aeronautics Space Administration's (NASA) funded System Oriented Runway Management (SORM) concept was developed to evaluate opportunities for enhanced surface, terminal, and en route operations that would result in increased airport capacity and operational efficiency. The runway configuration logic within the SORM program is designed to address capacity and efficiency issues across these airspace domains and to support these issues, can account for various historical weather phenomena and associated operational impacts in its configuration assessments. AvMet Applications, Inc. (AvMet) supported the SORM project through targeted weather analyses including: evaluating the affect of specific weather phenomena on runway configuration management, analyzing current runway configuration usage at various airports given specific aviation weather conditions and constraints, and investigating the impact of various weather phenomena on airport operations and efficiency. AvMet's historical database of various weather observation data and numerous years of forecast data allowed for a highly focused analysis which offered an improvement in airport capacity degradation modeling for the SORM project. Included in this study was a detailed approach to determine and isolate the measureable impacts from simultaneous occurrences of various weather events (such as reduced visibility and strong winds). Additionally, wind data at several airports were analyzed to evaluate the range of wind direction in which specific runways would remain in use. Moreover, this research resulted in airport-specific historical assessment of wind speed distributions, frequencies of shifts in wind direction, and operational impacts under differing wind conditions. Weather model forecast accuracy was also evaluated in order to better understand the variance in forecast performance and expectations for forecast accuracy given a range of prediction periods for both automated forecast products and current, official operational weather forecast products produced by the National Weather Service (NWS). These results provided additional guidance for airport runway management options and risk mitigation needs given forecasts for operationally-significant weather. Additional studies involving current weather thresholds, weather phenomena trends, and their impact on operations and runway configuration management on the major New York airports were also completed. These analyses, the associated results, and their implications and utility for airport runway configuration management, will be provided in this paper. Emphasized results will include the relationship of runway usage and airport operational efficiency to proximity and location of convective weather, IFR/VFR frequency, and to varied and specific terminal weather phenomena.
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