While the term space weather may at first invoke visions of Capt. Kirk and his starship Enterprise encountering ion storms, it is in reality something which affects radio communications, satellite transmissions and signals intelligence. And because HF radio is particularly susceptible, it often forces airlines and any other aircraft operating on polar routes to switch to different tracks, and sometimes make unscheduled fuel stops.
National Weather Service
Air traffic controllers at the FAA’s 20 contiguous en route centers are now able to see more accurate, timely weather information on the same display that shows aircraft position data, which the agency claims will reduce the potential for weather-related accidents and lessen the effect of weather on airspace efficiency.
The National Weather Service has awarded a team led by L-3 Enterprise IT Solutions a $43 million contract to upgrade Nexrad radar sites. Consisting of 171 weather radars positioned across the U.S. and a handful overseas, the sites collect data on local weather phenomena, which are then used to predict convective activity.
Summer is almost upon us in the northern hemisphere, but the FAA is embroiled in two significant icing-related issues: a proposed new rule for when de-ice systems are activated and a new interpretation of the term “known icing.”
Back in the early 1930s, when Capt. Elrey Jeppesen first started delivering airmail to remote towns and cities in the Western U.S. in single-engine Boeing biplanes, aviation most assuredly leaned more toward art than science.
ISRAEL AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES 1124A, TAOS, N.M., NOV. 8, 2002–The NTSB determined the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s inadvertent flight into mountain-wave weather conditions while IMC, resulting in loss of aircraft control.
Predicting the weather is a little like trying to pick up Jell-O before it sets. There are a lot of molecules up there, all interacting in less than predictable ways. It is a little surprising, then, that the head of one of the world’s foremost weather-data specialists says forecast accuracy is about to see vast improvements over and above what today’s computer modeling is capable of generating.
Using a new Web-based tool, operators who typically fly below Class A airspace can now obtain icing forecasts up to 12 hours in advance of their flight. The FAA tool provides a color weather map and a flight route display of icing potential from 3,000 to 18,000 feet. The user can select forecast times from three-, six-, nine-, and 12-hour intervals to help plan their routes.
Two new worldwide weather map products–icing and turbulence forecasts–are now available from Jeppesen of Englewood, Colo. Both forecast maps use intuitive color scales to indicate forecast areas of light, moderate or severe activity. For the U.S., customers may view data for current conditions as well as forecast data at 3-, 6-, 12-, 18- and 24-hour intervals.
NASA researchers are seeking to bring better weather information to pilots and controllers by converting a fleet of regional turboprop airliners for service as flying weather reporting stations.