Wind Shear System Consultancy Services

Radar-based Wind Shear Alert System

Wind shear experts in RAL provide consultancy services to public and private organizations and governments around the world to help them understand wind shear and various wind shear detection system solutions. The consultancy services include identifying the exposure to wind shear, providing technical information on wind shear detection system solutions, siting systems, training aviation personnel on the impacts of wind shear on aviation, preparing technical specifications for wind shear systems, supporting the tendering process, and assisting with the implementation of wind shear detection solutions.

The Research Applications Laboratory (RAL) of NCAR has over twenty years of experience in system development and technology transfer. NCAR/RAL has successfully developed and transferred to operations weather decision support technologies to the aviation community (e.g., airlines, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Weather Service (NWS), international governments (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and others), private sector companies, Army, Air Force, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Pentagon Force Protection, National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and many other clients. As a national center, NCAR is able to utilize advancements developed not only at NCAR, but at research centers, universities, and national laboratories worldwide.

NCAR/RAL has extensive experience in aviation weather. This experience in aviation weather has emphasized

  1. Expert knowledge in aviation weather science
  2. The development of aviation weather decision support systems that make weather information easy to use in operational environments
  3. The development of detection and forecast algorithms, methods, and techniques which generate aviation specific information
  4. the use of specialized models and data systems to improve the accuracy of detections and forecasts.

Significant aviation-weather research and development experience includes the following:

  1. Joint Airport Weather Studies (JAWS) Project – This was an NCAR–directed research project in the 1980s in which physical processes associated with thunderstorm–initiated downbursts and wind shear were investigated. The knowledge gained served as the basis for future development of airport wind shear detection systems.
  2. Low–Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS) – NCAR developed this first airport wind shear alert system for detecting microbursts. Over 110 systems have been installed in the US to assist in providing warnings of microburst and gust–front–related low–level wind shear. This technology has also been implemented at airports worldwide. NCAR holds the patent for LLWAS wind shear detection algorithms.
  3. Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) – Convective weather research and prototype development at NCAR in the 1980s and 1990s strongly influenced the design, scanning strategies and end–user products generated by this aviation–weather radar system that was installed at 50 major airports in the US. NCAR also holds the patent for algorithms integrating TDWR and LLWAS data. NCAR's prototype TDWR system was successfully used to protect Denver's Stapleton Airport from wind shear for six years until the operational TDWR took its place at Denver International Airport.
  4. Terminal–Area Surveillance System (TASS) – The TASS was a next–generation (electronic scanning) airport radar surveillance system prototype that was designed to track aircraft as well as weather and weather hazards. NCAR developed prototype weather hazard detection algorithms for this system, including those that detect microbursts and other wind–shear–related phenomena.
  5. Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) – The AWRP is a 20 year research and development program supported by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in which NCAR is a major participant. The objective of the AWRP is to develop improved detection and forecasting techniques for all weather factors that influence aviation safety and efficiency, including turbulence, icing, snowfall, convective weather, cloud ceiling, and visibility.
  6. Convectively Initiated Precipitation Research – Automated nowcasting techniques have been developed at NCAR for the very short range (0 to 2 hour) prediction of convective precipitation and related hazards near airports.
  7. Wind Shear Detection and Warning System (WTWS) – NCAR designed, developed, tested, and installed an operational wind shear and turbulence detection and forecast system for Hong Kong International Airport, which was constructed in a location that experiences terrain–induced windshear that is potentially hazardous to aircraft. In order to enhance the safety of aircraft operations at the new airport, the WTWS was developed to detect, forecast, quantify, display and provide warnings for significant terrain–induced and convective windshear and turbulence. Components of this system include automated surface sensing systems, a Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, and wind profilers. Doppler lidar systems were recently added to the WTWS by the Hong Kong Observatory as a system enhancement.
  8. Advanced Operational Aviation Weather System (AOAWS) – NCAR developed an advanced aviation weather system for the Taiwan Civil Aeronautics Administration to cover the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR). The AOAWS includes advanced aviation weather prediction capabilities, turbulence and icing algorithms, and flight planning tools. The AOAWS also includes wind shear detection systems at Songshun Airport and TTY International Airport.
  9. Aeronautical Meteorology System Technical Assistance Unidad Administrativa Especial de Aeronautica Civil (UAEAC), Colombia, South America – NCAR teamed with Earth Satellite Corporation in 2005 to perform a detailed assessment of the current state of the Colombian Aeronautical Meteorology System. NCAR performed airport site visits, assessed the current aviation weather infrastructure, and developed a phased development plan for modernizing the Colombian aeronautical Meteorology system. This consultancy included an assessment of windshear and turbulence technologies as well as other aviation hazards.
  10. Juneau Airport Wind System – NCAR developed a sophisticated wind information system for Juneau Airport that provides terrain–induced windshear and turbulence alerts for specific aircraft arrival and departure corridors. This FAA funded system incorporates data from anemometers near the runways and on nearby mountaintops, and data from wind profilers.
  11. Assessment of Meteorological Services – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – At the request of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME), NCAR conducted a study to assess the current status of PME meteorological services including aeronautical meteorology, forecasting operations, radar systems, and their air quality program. NCAR provided recommendations regarding how the PME could modernize its capabilities over five–year and ten–year periods.
  12. Sydney Airport Wind Shear Consultancy – Between 2009 and 2010, NCAR wind shear system experts performed a detailed study of wind shear detection system technologies that are appropriate for Sydney International Airport and other sites across Australia. This study provided as assessment of several technologies including Doppler weather radar, Doppler lidar, Low-Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS), sodar, wind profiler, and combinations of these technologies. This study was performed for a team of aviation stakeholders including the Bureau of Meteorology, airlines, Airway Services of Australia, and the Sydney Airport Authority.

NCAR has demonstrated its ability and willingness to share its research results with aviation weather stakeholders. This enables results to be quickly communicated and implemented into operations to support decision makers. NCAR's commitment to the development and long–term support of a suite of open–source sophisticated technologies (e.g., weather models, algorithms, decision support systems, etc.) has transformed the scientific and engineering fields and has contributed to technical advancements throughout the nation and world.


Please direct questions/comments about this page to:

Matthias Steiner

Director, Aviation Applications Program