Echo Top Forecast Generation and Evaluation of Air Traffic Flow Management Needs in the National Airspace System

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Monday, 30 January 2006
Echo Top Forecast Generation and Evaluation of Air Traffic Flow Management Needs in the National Airspace System
Exhibit Hall A2 (Georgia World Congress Center)
William J. Dupree, MIT, Lexington, MA; and M. Robinson and R. DeLaura

Poster PDF (1.8 MB)

Convective weather continues to account for a significant fraction of the U.S. air traffic delays and MIT Lincoln Laboratory is actively evaluating how specific weather information is used to assist with traffic flow management during convective weather impacts. We have identified that a forecast of storm tops structure could potentially provide significant benefit to both en route and terminal air traffic operations. In response, the Convective Weather Product Development Team (PDT) of the FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) has developed a 0-2 hour Echo Tops Forecast (ETF).

Built in part upon established convective weather forecast (CWF) technology pioneered by MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the ETF algorithm is a multi-scale storm tracking algorithm that takes into account measured storm growth and decay trends, weather classification, previous measured echo tops, and underlying models of storm top evolution. The ETF uses CWF storm motion tracks to identify the envelope motion of large scale storms and the cell motion of smaller, isolated cell regions. A significant component of the algorithm is its categorization of weather type (line, small or large isolated cell, stratiform, etc). By accounting for weather type heterogeneity, components of the ETF algorithm such as storm evolution trending and modeled storm height potential become more robust and predictions of echo top heights, locations, and areal coverage are improved.

The ETF product was introduced to the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) in May 2005. Since then, FAA traffic managers have utilized this unique product to develop improved convective weather impact mitigation plans, reduce airspace complexity, and improve inter/intra-facility coordination. As a result, the CIWS ETF product has assisted in reducing both air traffic delays and traffic management workload. A complete suite of ETF product applications, identified during the 2005 CIWS benefits assessment field campaign, will be presented.