Using improved awareness of turbulence to increase airspace utilization

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Thursday, 2 February 2006: 4:30 PM
Using improved awareness of turbulence to increase airspace utilization
A301 (Georgia World Congress Center)
Paul A. Robinson, AeroTech Research, Newport News, VA

Presentation PDF (1.2 MB)

Regions of adverse weather such as convective activity, clear air turbulence, or mountain wave activity, can effectively close off regions of airspace to traffic. Without direct knowledge of the location and severity of the turbulence, the restricted region may be larger than necessary, placing an undue cost and disruptive burden on controllers, operators, and the traveling public.

With forecasts of significant increases in the demand for air travel over the next 20 years, these capacity constraints appear likely only to worsen with time. In such an environment, blocking airspace in accordance with current practices on bad weather days will not be a viable strategy. To keep the system going, it seems only natural that air traffic decision makers will need to route more aircraft in closer proximity to areas of weather currently deemed as hazardous. Better tools to identify and pinpoint areas of actual hazard will therefore be needed to safely negotiate these weather systems.

New turbulence detection and avoidance technologies developed under the auspices of NASA's Aviation Safety and Security Program will alleviate this problem. If pilots, dispatchers, and controllers use this hazard information in a collaborative manner, operational decisions may be made that can allow for increased airspace usage with no decrease in safety.

This paper frames the issues and presents operations concepts, which, if implemented and integrated with other Air Traffic Management Procedures, will have potentially large payoffs to those operating in the National Airspace System.

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