Terminal Area Weather

Providing accurate, timely weather information to aviation decision makers

Weather can have a significant impact on airport operations, causing delays and in some cases halting operations altogether. Weather impacts can be the result of both winter and summer storms, heavy precipitation, lightning, strong winds or significant wind shear, limited ceiling and visibility, and combinations thereof. 

Prediction of significant weather impacts on operations are important in order to effectively manage air traffic in/out of an airport. Bad forecasts can have substantial impacts on operations as well either through unexpected significant weather impacts (i.e., missed events) or underutilized capacity (false alarms). 

The challenges are manifold and include obtaining quality weather observations, developing accurate hazard detection and prediction capabilities, understanding operationally relevant weather aspects, translation of weather into operational impacts, and effective dissemination and communication of these weather-related impacts to key air traffic and airport managers.

RAL has considerable experience in these areas, and has fielded multiple systems that assist air traffic managers and ground operations staff to minimize unnecessary delays. One aspect of these systems is the incorporation of user input for display design. Specific users need specific formats that they are used to seeing and reacting to – and these formats are determined during the development phase of a project. Timing is important since even the most accurate information delivered too late is not effective.

Examples of RAL systems for Terminal Area Weather include the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) Program, the Low-Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS), the Weather Support for Deicing Decision Making (WSDDM), the Taiwan Advanced Operational Aviation Weather System (AOAWS), the Terminal Area Surveillance System (TASS), the Hong Kong Windshear and Turbulence Warning System (WTWS), and the Juneau Airport Wind System (JAWS). As opportunities present themselves RAL will continue to develop end-to-end weather systems to aid smooth terminal operations.


Matthias Steiner

Director, Aviation Applications Program