Weather was not my best subject in flight school, though I readily accepted its importance for pilots. On the FAA written exam for my ATP, six of the eight questions I got wrong were about weather.
Honeywell won a $49 million contract to upgrade the National Weather Service’s ground-radar, wind-profiler network that will predict severe storms earlier and provide more accurate warnings of upcoming storms. Honeywell’s work on the production phase of the next-generation NOAA wind-profiler network includes upgrading the NOAA network of wind profilers that provide upper air wind data for crucial weather forecasting tasks.
Winter weather, freezing temperatures and snow, wind or thunderstorms can add significantly to a flight crew’s stress level. And obtaining accurate and precise weather information is essential, not only for getting there safely, but also for calculating the optimal route in terms of time saved and fuel burned. Many weather tools are of limited use for flight planning because they focus only on the weather that’s happening on the ground.
An FAA plan to consolidate all of the 84 National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters now co-located in the nation’s 21 ATC en route centers into two central forecasting locations has drawn spirited opposition from the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO), which is claiming the move is unsafe.
Without the ability to understand and accurately forecast weather, NextGen technology won’t amount to much. For that reason, industry participants including Baron Services, NCAR and the FAA are not only working to integrate weather into the NextGen technology, but they are also working to improve forecasting techniques.
One of the first steps in developing the technology to automate the National Airspace System (NAS) is to coordinate and manage the data that is necessary for the technology to work properly. The system-wide information management (Swim) platform will allow all of the NextGen systems to “speak” to one another, as well as to other systems within other government agencies and industry partners, according to the FAA.
The focus of the NextGen Air Transportation System has largely been on the development of satellite-based navigation systems, trajectory-based operations and the various technologies that will form the underlying structure of the nation’s future ATC system. But NextGen’s success is not dependent upon new procedures and inventions.
The National Convective Weather Forecast (NCWF), which combines National Weather Service (NWS) radar mosaics and cloud-to-ground lightning data into a
six-color hazardous weather depiction, is now available on the Internet and the NWS information networks.
Although the official raison d’etre for the Friends/Partners in Aviation Weather is to coordinate the needs of users and the ability of the National Weather Service (NWS) and the FAA to serve those needs, it could be likened to a nagging spouse.
OK, so we all know that no one ever does anything more than talk about the weather. But the folks at the National Weather Service’s aviation branch are doing their best to make sure that when they do talk about the aviation climate, at least the dialogue is as accurate as possible.
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