Demonstrating feasibility of tactical turbulence alerts

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 11:30 AM
129A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
John K. Williams, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and E. Frazier, B. Barron, G. Blackburn, C. Kessinger, T. A. Lindholm, and M. Delemarre

Handout (1.1 MB)

With the advent of information and entertainment data links for passengers on many commercial flights, providing real-time weather information to the cockpits of en-route aircraft with minimal latency appears increasingly feasible. One of the most important weather variables for maintaining comfortable and safe flight is atmospheric turbulence, including the rapidly-evolving turbulence associated with thunderstorms (convectively-induced turbulence, or CIT). At the direction of the FAA Weather Technology in the Cockpit Program, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has developed a series of simulator demonstrations to take place at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center's NextGen Integration and Evaluation Capability facility in 2015. The simulations aim to establish the technical feasibility of providing tactical turbulence alerts via data links to the cockpits of en-route aircraft, and will facilitate the development of best practices for conveying them to maximize their usefulness.

Tactical turbulence information is provided by in-cloud turbulence measurements from the NEXRAD Turbulence Detection Algorithm (NTDA), which have been incorporated into the Graphical Turbulence Guidance Nowcast product. The combined product runs at NCAR, providing real-time data fusion of WRF-RAP model, radar, satellite and lightning data along with in-situ turbulence observations and pilot reports to produce a comprehensive, rapid-update, 3-D assessment of turbulence over the CONUS. In preparation for the simulator demonstration, the NCAR system monitors the positions of all aircraft in the National Airspace System via Aircraft Situation Display to Industry data, creating and archiving alerts for aircraft whose trajectories will intersect turbulence in the following few minutes. Alert thresholds are based on the intensity, size and proximity of the turbulence region. Case studies of the tactical turbulence data and alerts will be described, and plans for the simulator demonstration outlined.