Ceiling and Visibility

Understanding and Forecasting a Critical Barrier to Aviation Safety and Terminal Efficiency

Low ceilings and reduced surface visibilities yield critical impacts across the spectrum of aviation activities. For the general aviation pilot, limited ceiling and/or visibility (C&V) present a significant safety hazard – one that must be carefully considered in making pre–flight go/no–go decisions, route plans, and in–flight IFR avoidance and escape decisions. For commercial aviation, advanced aircraft equipment and pilot experience enable safe operations in low C&V conditions, but traffic flow capacity at impacted terminals drops markedly. This reduction in capacity is a major cause of flight delays and cancellations, and can propagate 'upstream' from impacted terminals to feeder terminals where no C&V problem exists.

RAL's work toward C&V nowcasting and forecasting addresses both the safety and terminal capacity impacts outlined above.

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Ceiling and Visibility