7.3 Offshore Radar-like Analyses for Aviation

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 9:00 AM
Room 348/349 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Mark S. Veillette, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, MA; and H. Iskenderian, C. J. Mattioli, E. P. Hassey, and P. M. Lamey

Effective air traffic control requires an accurate radar depiction of storm location and intensity so controllers may safely route aircraft around hazardous weather. Within the CONUS, this radar depiction is provided to controllers through radar display systems, such as the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) and the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS). Since these systems rely on land-based NEXRAD radar, they lack adequate cover in some offshore and oceanic regions that fall within the National Airspace System (NAS). For instance, Miami's Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) has several oceanic sectors where radar coverage is either limited, or non-existent. This lack of situational awareness may be detrimental to passenger safety and can lead to inefficiencies in the NAS. This shortcoming resulted in an Air Traffic Organization Corrective Action Report (CAR-2011-023) that highlighted the safety concerns of limited or no NEXRAD coverage in the Miami offshore airspace and called for a solution.

In 2014, the FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) began funding development of the Offshore Precipitation Capability (OPC). The OPC is a system that creates radar-like mosaic products with the goal of providing offshore situational awareness for Air Traffic Controllers beyond the range of current weather radar. The OPC creates radar-like mosaics by fusing together global lightning data, five GOES satellite channels, and several fields from NOAA's Rapid Refresh (RAP) 13 km numerical weather prediction model. The OPC mosaics are then merged with mosaics from land-based radar to provide a consistent depiction of storms extending offshore. A prototype of OPC that provides offshore coverage for the Miami ARTCC was completed in early 2015. In preparation for transitioning this system into operations, OPC was demonstrated at the 2015 Aviation Weather Testbed Summer Experiment, and also began undergoing third party evaluations by NOAA's Quality Assessment Product Development Team (QAPDT) and the FAA's Aviation Weather Development and Evaluation (AWDE) group. In this talk, we will show highlights of the OPC's development, as well as some results and feedback from these demonstrations and evaluations.

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