83rd Annual

Thursday, 13 February 2003: 4:30 PM
Enhanced weather radar data required to improve the Federal Aviation Administration's operational capabilities
Bill Bumgarner, BAE SYSTEMS, Washington, DC; and S. Shema
Poster PDF (349.4 kB)
As any seasoned traveler has experienced, weather frequently affects the smooth functioning of commercial aviation within the United States national airspace. To improve the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) operational capability in decreasing weather related delays and maintaining airspace capacity during severe weather, the FAA requires enhancement of the quality of the weather radar data from existing weather radar sensors such as the tri-agency NEXRAD WSR-88D and the FAA's Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR).

Over the past decade the FAA has prototyped several systems which have successfully demonstrated the value of using high precision weather radar data at both terminal and en route environments. Both the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) and the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) are being deployed in the 2002-2004 timeframe to provide better weather data for operational use by the air traffic controller community. Using input from the WARP system, the Data System Replacement system (DSR) at en route control centers will display for the first time color reflectivity levels integrated on the same screen as aircraft positions. This capability will support more efficient traffic management and enhanced aviation safety but can be further improved if higher quality radar data is provided. Although the WSR-88D NEXRAD presently has certain inherent limitations, there are planned improvements to enhance data quality. The advent of the Open Radar Product Generator (ORPG) and the enhanced Open Radar Data Acquisition (ORDA) system will make possible extensive improvements in the quality and timeliness of data delivered to the FAA systems.

The ITWS is used to support terminal traffic management. It ingests radar data from NEXRAD, TDWR, and other FAA radars - all which have specific data quality limitations which can be improved. Improvements now being prototyped on the TDWR are expected to demonstrate similar capabilities as planned for the NEXRAD system.

This paper will discuss what specific improvements are needed by the FAA, how the FAA intends to implement those changes, and what challenges must be overcome to reach those goals.

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