Overview of the 2014 Aviation Weather Testbed Summer Experiment
Ceiling and visibility (C&V) impacts flight operations throughout the year, with aviation impacts ranging from accidents to significant National Airspace System (NAS) delays. According to the NTSB, the majority of fatal incidents involving aircraft are the result of VFR flights encountering non-VFR conditions. In fact, the NTSB highlighted ceiling and visibility in two of their advocacy priorities under the NTSB's 2014 “Most Wanted List.” The C&V portion of the experiment focused on assessing the ability of mesoscale and convection-allowing models and ensembles to forecast flight rule conditions across the CONUS, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Alaska. By assessing the NWP model and ensemble prediction systems, forecasters can better understand the capability of existing numerical guidance. The resulting feedback can be provided to modelers that may improve C&V guidance and progress toward NextGen-based advanced probabilistic decision support services.
The convective portion of the experiment focused on providing enhanced decision support for tactical and strategic air traffic planning. The issuance of the event-driven Aviation Weather Statements (AWS) as a complement to the routinely issued Collaborative Convective Forecast Product (CCFP) was the primary goal. The FAA has described the AWS as an aviation warning for NAS Traffic Flow Management (TFM). The AWS is envisioned to be a collaborative product between AWC and CWSU meteorologists as well as industry participants, and this experiment was a good opportunity for dialogue between the groups in defining and shaping this potential decision support service. Convective guidance for the AWS was provided by convection-allowing, mesoscale numerical models and ensembles, as well as experimental observation data sets. GOES-R proxy products and GOES-14 Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSOR) available to NWS forecasters were used and evaluated during the experiment.