Weather Integration Into Decision Making

Optimizing Air Traffic Management Requires Automated Decision Support Tools That Integrate Probabilistic Weather Information

Weather Integration Activities That Support NextGen

Weather information cross–cuts all the NextGen solution sets; therefore, good weather information that is properly integrated is fundamental to achieving the benefits NextGen promises. Weather information about hazards that impact aircraft operations will always be uncertain, even near real–time diagnoses. And as the forecast time horizon increases, so does the uncertainty.

Figure 1. Weather Hazard Data Translation for the Pilot

We recognize the need to translate information about weather hazards, such as turbulence and convection, into air traffic management impact variables such as accumulated delay. But it is also important to realize that ATM impact is uncertain–that is, we can never say with certainty that the NAS or pilot will respond to a weather event the same way, all the time. This highly dynamic situation drives a solution set that accounts for all levels of uncertainty and manages, not eliminates, the risk associated with a particular course of action. We require the addition of another dimension to the 4–D representation of weather that already exists–that is, a characterization of uncertainty and a translation to expected NAS response to a particular weather phenomenon.

Turbulence and convection have the most disruptive effect on NAS efficiency and capacity. Current weather R&D and product development for these hazards are attempting to use ensemble–type weather diagnoses and forecasts that further translate multiple ensemble outputs to ATM impacts, such as required dynamic reroutes and delay. Aggregating individual ensembles that have been translated to ATM impact can be used to identify probability distribution functions of likely NAS or NAS element response to a particular representation of current or future weather state. Figure 1, above, illustrates the envisioned integration concept for in–flight cockpit use. Since the pilot does not have the time to interpret complex weather information while controlling the aircraft, a translation of "data" to high–glance–value information is presented instead. The concept includes how uncertainty is included in a way that is meaningful to the pilot.

Weather Integration Into Decision Making