FAA, NCAR team win technology leadership

December 26, 2000

FAA, NCAR team recognized with government technology leadership award on-line aviation weather saves time and money, protects lives BOULDER--Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) played a key role in developing an award-winning Web site that provides pilots with accurate weather forecasts of winds, turbulence, icing, and thunderstorms. A Government Technology Leadership Award was presented to the site's sponsoring agency, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in a ceremony at the Reagan Conference Center in Washington, D.C., last month.

Estimated savings from ADDS are dependent upon the type of aircraft and the number and length of flights. Over $34 million a year in efficiency and safety benefits are projected from the ADDS icing product alone.

Commercial airlines, corporations, the armed services, and private aviators use the Aviation Digital Data Service, although some products on the site are still considered experimental. ADDS helps pilots anticipate hazardous weather along their flight routes, adding a measure of safety while reducing flight delays and saving taxpayer money. The system offers on-line access to aviation weather products at http://adds.awc-kc.noaa.gov.

"A picture is worth a thousand words over the telephone," writes one pilot who has used the site. The old, text-based system requires multiple pages of computer printout or speaking by phone with a specialist in an FAA Flight Service Station, explains Greg Thompson, who worked with several colleagues in NCAR's Research Applications Program to develop the interactive software for the new site. With the text-based system, "To know where the icing, turbulence, or convection is expected that day, pilots have to read or listen to a series of cryptic airport identifiers and connect the dots to construct an imaginary polygon." With ADDS, pilots select a region or the whole United States to see maps with the outline of predicted hazardous areas clearly marked; other maps show temperatures and winds in different colors. The flight-path tool displays a vertical cross-section of conditions along the pilot's proposed route.

The Web site is a joint effort of the NCAR team and colleagues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Forecast Systems Laboratory in Boulder and NOAA's National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Missouri. ADDS operates out of the Kansas City AWC.

This is the second year in a row that a team from NCAR's Research Applications Program has been part of an FAA-sponsored project winning a Government Technology Leadership Award. In 1999, the FAA's Weather Support to Deicing Decision Making system was honored. WSDDM uses Doppler radar, surface weather data, and snow gauges to help pilots, controllers, and dispatchers make deicing decisions.
ADDS and WSDDM were funded by the Federal Aviation Administration's Aviation Weather Research Program. NCAR, whose primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation, is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of more than 60 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences.

National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

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