Terminal Ceiling & Visibility Product Development for Northeast Airports

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Monday, 30 January 2006
Terminal Ceiling & Visibility Product Development for Northeast Airports
Exhibit Hall A2 (Georgia World Congress Center)
David A. Clark, MIT, Lexington, MA

Poster PDF (192.0 kB)

Within the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP), the Terminal Ceiling and Visibility Product Development Team (TC&V PDT) is responsible for development of forecast guidance products to mitigate the loss of operating capacity associated with low ceiling and visibility restrictions. In particular, accurate anticipation of the onset and cessation of Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) allows the opportunity for air traffic managers to effectively regulate traffic to utilize available capacity. The TC&V PDT approach is to develop forecast guidance solutions that are specific to individual high volume terminals that experience substantial loss of capacity due to C&V exposure.

A number of terminals in the northeast United States meet these criteria. Many of these airports share characteristically similar C&V exposure; in particular, they are largely impacted by low ceiling and visibility conditions associated with transient synoptic-scale weather systems that are most common during the winter season. Included are the major northeast corridor terminals in the New York City airspace (Laguardia, Kennedy, and Newark), Boston, Philadelphia, and in the Washington, DC airspace (Reagan and Dulles).

The multitude of phenomena contributing to IMC (e.g. frontal cloud shields, advection and radiation fog, precipitation of varying intensity and type, etc.) poses a difficult forecasting challenge. The Terminal C&V PDT is pursuing a variety of candidate technologies that can be integrated to provide a comprehensive solution. Trials of these forecast technologies are being developed using the NYC airspace as an experimental domain for both weather and operations. Development is progressing on three fronts: 1) improvement in the delivery of existing C&V information, 2) development of new forecast technologies, and 3) integration with operational information to provide a complete guidance tool.

This paper introduces an experimental display tool and distribution mechanism for delivering existing C&V data and forecasts, focused on the NYC airspace. It also provides an overview of the forecast technologies under development. These include terminal-specific Numerical Weather Prediction model applications, statistical methodology, and short-term track and trending of cloud and precipitation, using radar, satellite, and surface observations.