The system, developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), provides information pilots can use to route aircraft away from patches of potentially dangerous turbulence. It uses a network of wind measuring instruments and computational formulas to interpret rapidly changing atmospheric conditions.
As pilots fly in and out of Juneau International Airport, they see a display alerting them to areas of moderate and severe turbulence.
Credit: Image courtesy National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The Federal Aviation Administration formally commissioned the system in July for Alaska's Juneau International Airport. NCAR researchers can now turn their attention to adapting the system to other airports that often have notoriously severe turbulence, in areas ranging from southern California and the Mountain West to Norway and New Zealand.
The Juneau system was patterned after a similar system, also designed by NCAR, that has guided aircraft for several years at Hong Kong's heavily trafficked Chek Lap Kok Airport.
"By alerting pilots to areas of moderate and severe turbulence, this system enables them to fly more frequently and safely in and out of the Juneau airport in poor weather," says Alan Yates, an NCAR program manager who helped oversee the system's development. "It allows pilots to plan better routes, helping to reduce the bumpy rides that passengers have come to associate with airports in these mountainous settings."
The system offers the potential to substantially reduce flight delays. In Alaska's capital city, where it is known as the Juneau Airport Wind System or JAWS, it enables the airport to continue operations even during times of turbulence by highlighting corridors of smooth air for safe take-offs and landings.
"The JAWS system has nearly eliminated all the risk of flying in and out of Juneau," says Ken Williams, a Boeing 737 captain and instructor pilot with Alaska Airlines. "I wish the system would be deployed in other airports where there are frequent encounters with significant turbulence, so pilots can get a true understanding of what the actual winds are doing on the surrounding mountainous terrain as you approach or depart."
The project was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Steep terrain, rough rides
Turbulence has long been a serious concern for pilots approaching and departing airports in steep terrain. Rugged peaks can break up air masses and cause complex and rapidly changing patterns of updrafts and downdrafts, buffeting an aircraft or even causing it to unexpectedly leave its planned flight path.
In Juneau, after several turbulence-related incidents in the early 1990s—including one in which a jet was flipped on its side during flight and narrowly avoided an accident—the FAA imposed strict rules of operation that effectively shut down the airport during times of atmospheric disturbance. The agency then asked NCAR to develop a system that would allow pilots to avoid regions of turbulence. Otherwise, Alaska's capital would be isolated at many times from the rest of the state, since the only way to travel in and out of Juneau is by airplane or boat.
The NCAR team used research aircraft and computer simulations to determine how different wind patterns—such as winds that come from the north over mountains and glaciers and winds that come from the southeast over water—correlated with specific areas of turbulence near the airport. To do this they installed anemometers and wind profilers at key sites along the coast and on mountain ridges. The team has installed ruggedized, heated instruments that can keep functioning even when exposed to extreme cold, wind, and heavy icing conditions.The Federal Aviation Administration accepted JAWS for operational use this year.
"Juneau was an extremely challenging case, and we're pleased that the new system met the FAA's high standards," Yates says. "We look forward to exploring opportunities to support development of turbulence avoidance systems at additional airports. Our goal is to improve flying safety and comfort for millions of passengers."
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.On the Web:
David Hosansky | EurekAlert!
Variable speed limits could reduce crashes, ease congestion in highway work zones
07.06.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia
Experiments show that a few self-driving cars can dramatically improve traffic flow
10.05.2017 | University of Illinois College of Engineering
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine