In this area of research application, our objective is to develop and implement another "conduit" for aviation weather information—a near real-time link to the flight deck. We are considering the needs of the flight crew from all sectors of aviation: general aviation, business aviation, the DoD, and scheduled airline operations. In addition, we are identifying and addressing the needs of collaborative end-users, such as air traffic management (ATM) , flight operations management (dispatch and Flight Operations Centers, FOCs), and envisioned automated decision support within the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). The overall objective for the future is to integrate 4-dimensional weather information seamlessly into the decision support needed for effective ATM out to the year 2025.
The concept of providing up-to-date weather information to the flight crew on the flight deck has evolved over the years from verbal/textual transmission, to graphical weather depictions from aircraft sensors, to the capability to provide data link transmission of alerts, warnings, and planning weather graphics as required to safely complete a planned flight profile. The following definition borrowed from the NASA Aviation Safety Program provides a top-level starting point for this area of emphasis. “Weather in the Cockpit” is defined as:
“… a system combining and presenting various types of weather information obtained through multiple data-link sources, on-board remote sensors, and in-situ sensors to aid crews with effective flight management.”
New concepts—risk management and decision support (either manual or automated)—further increase the power of accessing real-time weather information in the cockpit.
For our purposes here, “cockpit” refers to displays, integrated systems, or any currently undefined function on the flight deck that uses weather information for decision support guidance.