Appendix H
Research Documents and Organizations

The current aviation weather research and development program is described in the following federal planning documents:

  • The National Aviation Weather Program Plan, which the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) issued during 1992, discusses user needs, existing aviation weather systems and services, and unmet needs; provides an assessment of planned systems; and makes recommendations for research and development. This plan notes that successful implementation of future systems depends upon effective communication and coordination among all agencies involved and rapid transfer of research and development results to operational services (OFCM, 1992).
  • The 1994 U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP) Implementation Plan is an interagency document that describes federal weather research goals and priorities and specific activities needed to achieve these goals and priorities. This plan recommends that representatives of the USWRP, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Department of Defense (DoD) continue and expand collaboration on aspects of their research and development programs that have commonality. Specific areas identified include advanced forecast models and in flight weather hazards such as icing (USWRP, 1994).
  • The 1994 FAA Strategic Plan describes an evolutionary strategy to develop the aviation weather system of the future. This strategy focuses on developing prototypes of future systems quickly to ensure that interfaces with other systems and operational concepts are thoroughly validated. The plan calls for testing prototypes in an operational environment to allow user evaluation teams to help refine system performance (FAA, 1994b).
  • The 1994 FAA Plan for Research, Engineering and Development (RE&D) discusses three projects that are funded by the RE&D budget: (1) aviation weather analysis and forecasting, (2) airborne meteorological sensors, and (3) integrated airborne windshear research. The RE&D Plan also refers to three other projects that are funded under the FAA's Capital Improvement Plan: (1) the Integrated Terminal Weather System, (2) the Aviation Gridded Forecast System, and (3) the Advanced Weather Products Generator, which the FAA subsequently decided to eliminate from its budget proposal for fiscal year 1996. The RE&D Plan anticipates rapid prototyping and operational evaluation of new systems by federal laboratories to facilitate the development of operationally acceptable products and services (FAA, 1994a).

The FAA works with the National Science Foundation to sponsor aviation weather research by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and three university groups. The FAA also provides funding directly to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory, and the MITRE Corporation. In addition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the DoD sponsor research and development activities related to aviation weather. Aviation weather research associated with these organizations is discussed below.

Forecast Systems Laboratory. FSL is developing the Aviation Gridded Forecast System. This system was intended to provide inputs to the Advanced Weather Products Generator, but (to this committee's astonishment) the FAA has terminated its support for the Advanced Weather Products Generator and plans to encourage private weather services to take over the task of developing improved weather products.

FSL also develops weather displays, products, and productivity tools and refines them in air traffic and weather forecasting facilities operated by the FAA and National Weather Service (NWS). The laboratory then transfers validated new technology to the NWS's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (formerly the



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--> Appendix H Research Documents and Organizations The current aviation weather research and development program is described in the following federal planning documents: The National Aviation Weather Program Plan, which the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) issued during 1992, discusses user needs, existing aviation weather systems and services, and unmet needs; provides an assessment of planned systems; and makes recommendations for research and development. This plan notes that successful implementation of future systems depends upon effective communication and coordination among all agencies involved and rapid transfer of research and development results to operational services (OFCM, 1992). The 1994 U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP) Implementation Plan is an interagency document that describes federal weather research goals and priorities and specific activities needed to achieve these goals and priorities. This plan recommends that representatives of the USWRP, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Department of Defense (DoD) continue and expand collaboration on aspects of their research and development programs that have commonality. Specific areas identified include advanced forecast models and in flight weather hazards such as icing (USWRP, 1994). The 1994 FAA Strategic Plan describes an evolutionary strategy to develop the aviation weather system of the future. This strategy focuses on developing prototypes of future systems quickly to ensure that interfaces with other systems and operational concepts are thoroughly validated. The plan calls for testing prototypes in an operational environment to allow user evaluation teams to help refine system performance (FAA, 1994b). The 1994 FAA Plan for Research, Engineering and Development (RE&D) discusses three projects that are funded by the RE&D budget: (1) aviation weather analysis and forecasting, (2) airborne meteorological sensors, and (3) integrated airborne windshear research. The RE&D Plan also refers to three other projects that are funded under the FAA's Capital Improvement Plan: (1) the Integrated Terminal Weather System, (2) the Aviation Gridded Forecast System, and (3) the Advanced Weather Products Generator, which the FAA subsequently decided to eliminate from its budget proposal for fiscal year 1996. The RE&D Plan anticipates rapid prototyping and operational evaluation of new systems by federal laboratories to facilitate the development of operationally acceptable products and services (FAA, 1994a). The FAA works with the National Science Foundation to sponsor aviation weather research by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and three university groups. The FAA also provides funding directly to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory, and the MITRE Corporation. In addition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the DoD sponsor research and development activities related to aviation weather. Aviation weather research associated with these organizations is discussed below. Forecast Systems Laboratory. FSL is developing the Aviation Gridded Forecast System. This system was intended to provide inputs to the Advanced Weather Products Generator, but (to this committee's astonishment) the FAA has terminated its support for the Advanced Weather Products Generator and plans to encourage private weather services to take over the task of developing improved weather products. FSL also develops weather displays, products, and productivity tools and refines them in air traffic and weather forecasting facilities operated by the FAA and National Weather Service (NWS). The laboratory then transfers validated new technology to the NWS's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (formerly the

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--> National Meteorological Center) and the FAA. For example, the FSL is developing the Local Analysis and Prediction System, which will enable Weather Forecast Offices to create local forecast grids. FSL is currently test-operating a developmental version of this system for the Colorado geographic area. National Center for Atmospheric Research. The overall goal of NCAR's Research Applications Program is to develop meteorological products for the aviation community that will improve safety, increase efficiency, provide additional capacity, and generally reduce the cost of aviation operations. NCAR focuses on scientific problems and the resolution of scientific issues related to the development of new products. NCAR conducts rapid prototyping and works with aviation users, such as air traffic controllers and air carriers, to obtain feedback on new concepts. In general, NCAR transfers improvements in en route weather information to the NWS through FSL, and it transfers improved terminal area improvements to the FAA through MIT Lincoln Laboratory. NCAR is currently focusing on issues related to icing, turbulence, and convective weather detection and forecasting. NCAR has also concentrated on the Advanced Weather Products Generator as a means of providing improved production and display of aviation weather information and decision aids. NCAR also contributes to the development of advanced weather radars and airborne sensors. During fiscal years 1994–1995, funds for the NCAR and university research programs have decreased from about $15 million per year to approximately $5 million, and further cuts are scheduled for fiscal years 1996–1997. Universities. Three university groups are performing basic and applied research aimed at scientific issues of particular interest to aviation, including detection and modeling of convective phenomena; improving terminal forecasts of aviation critical variables, such as cloud height and visibility; and mesoscale modeling. Results from this research will be incorporated in the other activities as it becomes available. MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Lincoln Laboratory is developing the Integrated Terminal Weather System to integrate weather information from a wide variety of sources, including FAA airport radars, and thus produce a comprehensive depiction of conditions affecting flight near major airports. MITRE. The FAA funds the MITRE Corporation's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD) to validate system requirements and support the development of incremental improvements to the aviation weather system. For example, CAASD has used its simulation capabilities to determine that the high quality of data produced by the new WSR-88D weather radars allows them to outperform existing airport radar systems by a wide margin. CAASD determined that the relatively slow update rate of the WSR-88D (once every 5 minutes) is not an operational issue even for high-speed (40-knot) weather systems. CAASD then verified the results of this simulation by monitoring the movements of aircraft during adverse weather (MITRE, 1994). NASA. As shown in Table G-2 (page 91), during fiscal year 1995 the NASA budget for meteorological research and systems development represented over 40 percent of the federal government's entire (i.e., not just aviation-related) meteorological research and development budget of $400 million.1 NASA's areas of interest in aviation weather include windshear, icing, lightning, and en route dissemination of weather information. For example, NASA led the development of airborne windshear detection and avoidance technology that has been incorporated in a commercial Doppler radar system that is being deployed by several U.S. and international air carriers. Ongoing NASA programs, some of which are partly funded by the FAA, are (1) developing ground and airborne technology to reduce the impact of reduced visibility and cloud ceilings on airport operations, (2) investigating alternatives for designing aircraft with improved icing resistance, and (3) evaluating the effectiveness of using a satellite-based ozone mapping spectrometer for nowcasting volcanic hazards and upper-air winds. In general, NASA focuses on issues related to aircraft design, such as the impact of icing on aircraft performance, rather than on forecasting, and its work is conspicuously absent from federal aviation weather planning documents. Department of Defense. The Air Force and Navy conduct most of the DoD's meteorological research and development. The Air Force Materiel Command works with the Air Force Air Weather Service and appropriate elements of the U.S. Army to develop meteorological systems needed to support Air Force and Army operations. The Oceanographer of the Navy is the Navy's central point of contact for identifying meteorological requirements and monitoring meteorological research and development projects as they transition to operational status. References FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). 1994a. 1994 FAA Plan for Research, Engineering and Development. Washington, D.C.: FAA. 1   Unlike many other federal agencies, NASA does not report how much of its meteorological research is focused specifically on aviation applications. NASA's meteorological research supports projects, such as the space-based Earth Observing System, that do not directly impact aviation.

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--> FAA. 1994b. FAA Strategic Plan. Washington, D.C.: FAA. MITRE Corporation. 1994. Tour of MITRE's Center for Advanced Aviation System Development by the National Aviation Weather Services Committee. McLean, Virginia. November 10, 1994. OFCM (Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology). 1992. National Aviation Weather Program Plan. Washington, D.C.: OFCM. USWRP (U.S. Weather Research Program). 1994. U.S. Weather Research Program Implementation Plan . Washington, D.C.: Department of Commerce.