Nov. 3, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan podcast on new resources to improve forecasting hazardous weather.

The process of predicting weather that could impact aviation is about to change with the conversion of one product to full automation and the advent of another collaborative service that will combine automation with human oversight.

For years, flight crews and dispatchers have depended on the Collaborative Convective Forecast Product (CCFP) for predictive snapshots of weather within the National Airspace System in two-hour increments, issued every two hours during months when thunderstorms are likely to develop. The CCFP has been a prominent tool in getting air traffic safely around convective storms.

But that product will soon be automated, according to John Kosak, a specialist at NBAA’s Air Traffic Services. It will be offered 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, instead of the current offering, which is only available 20 hours a day between March 1 and Oct. 31.

The new CCFP will be derived from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s short-range ensemble forecast, the high resolution rapid refresh and other models. There will be no change in dissemination methods from the current CCFP product. View the CCFP.

In addition, the FAA will offer a new product: the Collaborative Aviation Weather Statement, an advanced weather forecasting tool with interactive human oversight. “We’re going forward into the NextGen sphere of things now,&drquo; said Kosak.

The Aviation Weather Statement is similar to Mesoscale Discussions issued by the National Weather Service, designed to help air traffic management (ATM) in deciding whether flight diversions are warranted. It has not yet been finalized, but NBAA is expecting the National Weather Service to begin issuing the Collaborative Aviation Weather Statement after March 1, 2015, Kosak said.

“The collaborative Aviation Weather Statement allows us to go to an event-based product,&drquo; rather than a clock-driven product, Kosak said. Instead of waiting two hours for the CCFP, as is currently done, air traffic managers, flight crews, dispatchers and others will be able to see updates on an as-needed basis. “Any of the stakeholders, whether at the Air Traffic Control System Command Center or the Aviation Weather Center or wherever, can push a button and say, ‘I need to draw attention to this particular area at this particular time because something’s different here.’&drquo;

Kosak predicted the new and revised weather products would allow for greater accuracy in pinpointing potentially hazardous weather systems. With that information in hand, he said, ATM decision-makers, dispatchers and flight crews would be able to cut the size and duration of weather diversions, lowering their impact on the NAS and improving both time and fuel efficiency.