FAA NextGen in Support of Meteorological Services for International Aviation

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 9:45 AM
Georgia Ballroom 3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Steven Albersheim, FAA, Washington, DC; and M. K. Peterson, T. J. Helms Jr., and L. Burch

Within the United States, the NextGen initiative is working toward the goal of optimizing air travel to accommodate the expected increase in air traffic volume. One key component to NextGen is weather integration, where weather information is translated into a usable format and converted into decision support tools for Air Traffic Management (ATM) decision-makers. There are five levels of integration, ranging from zero to four. Level zero integration gives ATM raw weather data while level four gives ATM a “go/no-go” decision based on ingested weather data.

In the past year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) convened the 12th Air Navigation Conference where meteorological information was identified as a key component of the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP). The international community agreed to develop a roadmap of how to integrate meteorological services as part of the Aviation System Block Upgrades. ICAO recognizes that current text-based products are not sufficient to meet the needs of performance-based operations, and the future rests with geospatial depiction of hazardous weather that can be integrated into automated flight planning systems and decision support tools. A key component to support this capability is the World Area Forecast System (WAFS). WAFS currently provides global gridded data for not only wind and temperature but now will be providing gridded data for cumulonimbus clouds, icing, and turbulence. The current provision of Significant Weather (SIGWX) forecast charts have limited value due to being very coarse in their description of anticipated weather. Additionally, they cannot be integrated into automated systems. While these charts will be maintained in the near term, efforts are now being directed to move beyond the initial operating capabilities of the first generation of gridded data to capabilities that allow users to extract information to meet specific operational mission requirements. This paper describes the vision of NextGen in support of meteorological services for international air navigation as part of the international puzzle of how to optimize weather integration into ATM in support of global harmonization and seamless transfer of weather information.