July 13, 2016
The U.S. National Weather Service’s Aviation Weather Center (AWC) is inviting feedback from pilots, flight planners, traffic managers and air traffic controllers on a new, at-a-glance, color-coded “experimental impacts” Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) Board for visualizing expected weather conditions at destination airports.
The online board is a simple grid with four colors; each grid represents a one-hour time slot. In the TAF Board grid, a white grid block means no potential impact. A yellow block represents a slight potential impact, orange is moderate and red is a high potential impact.
“If the grid for your target airport is all white, no worries,” said John Kosak, NBAA’s project manager for weather. “If you’re seeing colors, that suggests there may be some restriction within the 5-mile perimeter around that airport.”
Thresholds for the red/high impact category, for example, include visibility of less than half a statute mile, a ceiling of 200 feet or less, wind speeds greater than 30 knots or gusts of more than 35 knots, and weather conditions such as snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, ice pellets, thunderstorms, thunderstorms with rain or thunderstorms with hail.
For further detail on ceiling, visibility, weather, wind speed and wind gusts, users can hover their cursor over a grid block. Clicking on the airport station identifier will bring up the detail for all hours represented for that airport.
The initial TAF board reflects conditions at about 30 major airports. Kosak said NBAA is encouraging the AWC to add conditions at a few key airports used by business aircraft, such as New York’s Westchester County Airport (HPN) and New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport (TEB). The business aviation community is encouraged to suggest other high-traffic or high-value airports that should be included.
The AWC’s intent for the experimental impacts grid is to “assist dispatchers and air traffic managers with flight planning, while also raising situational awareness and improving operational decision-making.”
Kosak explained that the longer-term objective, as part of the FAA’s NextGen vision, is to offer a single authoritative source for weather on which the FAA bases air traffic management decisions. Currently, Kosak noted, the aviation community is using “just about everything under the sun” for weather information.
Operators are encouraged to submit comments about the TAF Board, and comments will be accepted through July 27. Submit comments on the TAF Board.