4.3 Responding to Changing Operator Needs and Bridging the Gap to NextGen: Aviation Weather Highlights from 2015

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 4:15 PM
Room 344 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Thomas P. Kiley Jr., AvMet Applications, Inc., Washington, DC; and S. Albersheim, M. P. Murphy, L. Burch, T. J. Helms Jr., and M. K. Peterson

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to make significant progress in delivering foundational capabilities of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). However, the FAA recognizes that near-term changes in the provision of meteorological information are required to support changing operator needs. These efforts vary in size and scope, and generally target specific changes to address an industry request or operator need. They focus on improving the near-term provision of meteorological information, in order to bridge the gap between the current state and NextGen's final operating capabilities. In many cases, a solution is developed through interagency collaboration with minimal capital investment.

The FAA is currently working on the following examples of changes in the provision of meteorological information:

Proposed changes to observation reporting practices in the METAR/SPECI for winter weather phenomena. Representatives from industry contacted FAA with concerns that current reporting practices adversely-affect de-icing and anti-icing procedures. FAA worked with industry to propose alternative reporting practices that meet the needs of air carriers, within the constraints of existing reporting systems, and with no deleterious effects on the climate record.

Provision of METAR remarks to support operational decision-making. In response to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation, FAA Flight Standards updated FAA Order 8900.1 to advise that the remarks section of the METAR/SPECI contains information crucial to complete situational awareness. Subsequently, at the request of operators, the FAA Aviation Weather Division (ANG-C6) worked with key stakeholders to ensure remarks are made available to carriers through the Digital-Automatic Terminal Information Service (D-ATIS).

Joint-effort with National Weather Service to eliminate the Area Forecast in-favor of modern digital and graphical alternatives. This effort represents just one component of a larger, holistic review of all weather information produced by NWS for aviation purposes. The Area Forecast product is decades old, with little change in format. Refining existing requirements to include the use of digital and graphical components already being produced by NWS, enables the provision of meteorological information of finer spatial and temporal resolution in the near-term years ahead of NextGen's final operating capabilities.

Recently, FAA has focused on streamlining the process for addressing near-term operator needs, to quickly respond to industry requests by: 1) accurately characterizing the problem and associated operational impact, 2) performing in-depth analysis that draws on subject-matter expertise from public and private stakeholders, and 3) developing requirements that meet the needs of both users and operators. By improving the near-term provision of meteorological information in this way, FAA is addressing industry needs, while ensuring a smooth transition to NextGen.

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