Winter-Weather Stakeholder Decision Mapping for Weather Decision Support Shortfall Identification

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 2:00 PM
129A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jennifer L. Bewley, AvMet Applications Inc., Reston, VA; and J. Lichty, E. Hahn, D. O'Donnell, M. Robinson, and R. S. Lee

Winter-weather (e.g., snow, sleet, freezing rain, etc.) events significantly impact air traffic operations and pose several safety concerns often requiring surface treatments, aircraft deicing, and other actions to mitigate impacts and comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) / Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Decisions and preparations made by aviation stakeholders (i.e., airports, airlines, and FAA) for winter-weather events begin hours to days before the start of an event and extend through the winter-weather period into post-event recovery operations. Although improved air traffic operations during winter-weather impact events is considered a critical need by National Airspace System (NAS) customers, many challenges exist in identifying requirements for effective winter weather impact management. Many of these challenges arise as a result of both (a) the involvement of multiple aviation stakeholders (i.e., airports, airlines, and FAA) who are involved in winter-weather operations and procedures each with unique operational objectives, priorities, and measures for success and (b) the significant variability in winter weather operations strategies, procedures, and functional capabilities across the major (core) airports, all of which are influenced by FAA/DOT regulations and industry trends. The climatology of winter-weather events for different regions of the NAS also varies in frequency, extent, type, and intensity, as do the air traffic impacts. In order to effectively evaluate current constraints and potential shortfalls in mitigating winter weather impacts, one must first seek to document and understand the current operating picture (e.g., FAA/DOT regulations, industry trends, climatology of terminal airport winter-weather events, air traffic management impacts, and current forecast and observation capabilities).

This paper describes a foundational winter-weather service analysis study that identifies and connects winter-weather stakeholder decisions to operational decision support (e.g., forecasts, observations) needs and shortfalls for winter-weather events. Analyses of Airport Snow and Ice Control Plans, phone / in-person interviews, and operational user surveys define a rich dataset of internal and external / collaborative winter-weather based decisions among aviation stakeholders (i.e., airports, airlines, air traffic control towers, ARTCCs, TRACONs, and FAA Command Center). Specifically, this study focused on four critical time periods to isolate specific operations / planning periods: 24-48 hours before winter weather event (Airport / ATM planning), 2-8 hours before winter weather event (Airport / ATM Strategic Operations), during winter weather event (Airport / ATM tactical), and post-event recovery (resuming normal operations). Winter-weather decision mapping results will be presented to illustrate the decisions and important weather elements (i.e., forecast horizon, accumulation, timing, intensity, etc.) used to make key decisions for each critical time period and pertinent stakeholder. The stakeholder decision mapping and stakeholder-utilized weather forecast product evaluations are, in turn, used to identify potential weather forecast gaps critical to key decisions.