The National Academies

ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S04-22 [Active (Synthesis)]

Airport Surface Weather Observation Options for General Aviation Airports
[ ACRP 11-03 (Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Staff Responsibility: Thomas J. Helms, Jr.
Fiscal Year: 2018

Final Scope

Airport surface weather observations are required for several types aviation operations, particularly Part 121 and Part 135 operations conducted under instrument flight rules. The proliferation of increasingly high-performance aircraft along with growth in GPS-based instrument approaches is increasing the demand for surface weather observations at general aviation airports. In addition, surface observations are important for operations conducted under visual flight rules. Weather sensing technology is improving and there are a growing number of weather sensors available to airports. The shift away from text-based, legacy surface observation products to XML formatted weather data allows for easier dissemination and ingestion into decision support tools.

The purpose of this synthesis is to identify the different types of surface observing systems available to airports, the different types of operations that each type of sensor can support, and the different factors airports consider when acquiring surface observation capabilities.

At a minimum, the report should address the following areas:

·         The need for airport surface weather observations

o   Airport customer demand

o   Regulatory and policy requirements

·         Currently available surface observation systems/capabilities

o   Certified systems

o   Non-certified systems

o   Dissemination and data archiving

·         Considerations for investment/acquisition decisions

o   Acquisition costs

o   Maintenance costs

o   Cost-benefit analysis requirements (for FAA funding)

·         Infrastructure requirements

o   Siting criteria for surface observing systems

o   Operational requirements (e.g., power, communications link, etc.)

·         Emerging technologies and trends

o   Sensing capabilities

o   Dissemination

o   Data processing

The report should also include background information on the evolution of airport surface weather observations capabilities from human observers to current capabilities.

In addition, the report should provide a catalog/list of surface weather observing capabilities at airports in the National Airspace System (both NPIAS and prominent non-NPIAS airports), as well as identify any significant gaps in the availability of surface weather observations.

The report should identify any gaps in currently available guidance material and any recommendations for future research opportunities.

At a minimum, the following tasks will be completed in developing the report:

·         Literature review

·         Interviews/survey

·         Synthesis of current aviation and other commercial industry practices, based on interviews/survey

·         Document specific examples of airports that recently acquired surface observation capabilities

Partial Information Sources

ICAO Annex 3, FAA Advisor Circular(s), National Weather Service Directives, Federal Meteorological Handbook 1

Submitter Notes:
This synthesis could be used by airport authorities and State Aeronautics offices in making investment decisions regarding surface observing systems. In addition, in the future, a surface observation at a general aviation airport may allow the NWS or a private provider to produce an automated forecast for the airport. 

Topic Panel
Senanu Ashiabor, Intermodal Logistics Consulting Inc
Barbara Baca, All Weather, Inc.
David A. Byers, Quadrex Aviation, LLC
Bettie Loudenslager, Federal Aviation Administration
Michael Marr, Office of Aviation, Iowa Department of Transportation
Susan J.H. Zellers, Hanson Professional Services Inc.
Michel Hovan, Federal Aviation Administration
Jennifer Dover, National Weather Service
Rune Duke, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

First Panel: June 6, 2018

Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: March 14, 2019


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