7.6 Contribution to a baseline understanding of the impact of weather on airline carrier operations

Wednesday, 12 January 2000: 4:00 PM
Thomas A. Seliga, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, MA; and J. A. Shorter

An innovative approach to assessing the impacts of weather on airline carrier operations is presented. This approach utilizes a national scale, monthly-averaged weather variability index to derive a monthly-averaged airline carrier delays per departure index. The approach assumes that, by analyzing the weather on a national scale, all the complex interconnections in flight schedules are implicitly accounted for. Traditional methods of assessing effects of weather on airline carrier operations have relied on case study analyses of how weather impacts air traffic operations at selected airports and then extrapolating these results to other locations and the nation as a whole. Our approach has found that a monthly index of national weather variability is highly correlated with the variability in the monthly indices of airline carrier delays per departure. A preliminary analysis is presented for the year 1995. The interrelationship appears highly consistent with perspectives on how weather influences airline carrier operations that are then manifested in delays. This limited, but strikingly simple result strongly suggests that additional analyses of this type should significantly enhance our understanding of how weather produces delays at different system-relevant scales. The methodology may further contribute to improving our understanding of how weather affects airline operations. The approach may also lead to better ways of determining how weather and airline operations relationships are altered over time as a consequence of introducing new weather technologies designed at mitigating the effects of weather or introducing new procedures for managing and operating the National Airspace System (NAS).
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