Development of the WAFS in Support of Meteorological Services for International Aviation

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 11:45 AM
129A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Steven Albersheim, FAA, Washington, DC; and M. K. Peterson, T. J. Helms Jr., and L. Burch

In 2012, 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 (ASBUs). 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 has been providing gridded data for cumulonimbus clouds, icing, and turbulence since late 2013. 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.

During the 2014 ICAO/WMO Meteorological (MET) Divisional Meeting, these measures were reviewed and agreed upon as the basis for the future of the WAFS. The improvements included the increase of temporal and spatial resolution of the WAFS gridded global forecasts as well as improved algorithms and the eventual integration into decision support systems. Attendees of the meeting also agreed that the WAFS continues to evolve in line with the GANP and WAFS information be integrated into the system-wide information management (SWIM) environment to ensure global communication of inoperable air. These upgrades are mapped to the ASBUs timeline through 2028.

This paper describes how meteorological information from the WAFS can be integrated into ATM in support of global harmonization and seamless transfer of weather information now and into the future.