Requirement/Benefit Definition Study Leading to 4-D Meteorological Databases Linked Across Europe
Forecasts of wind in the upper atmosphere are used quantitatively for
flight planning. The calculated flight times are derived directly from the
numerical wind data, together with route and aircraft information.
Existing studies show that considerable benefits would stem from higher
accuracy of weather forecasting, such as the opportunity to carry a
smaller contingency of fuel on board an aircraft (reducing fuel use).
The objective of the 4MIDABLE project was to specify the requirements for
the meteorological aspects of operational prediction of future aircraft
position, in four dimensions. Both short-term prediction (20 minutes
ahead) and longer term forecasting were addressed, including air traffic
flow management issues. The main aspects of weather under consideration
were wind, anti-icing, fog and severe convective clouds.
For the current accuracy of wind forecasting, the project found that results varied with the:
- range of forecast (the shorter the better);
- altitude of interest (the lower the better);
- geographical area (Europe better than North Atlantic);
- length of sector (the longer the better).
The project concluded that the use of site-specific models for forecasting, icing, visibility and cloud base is in its infancy. The technique requires more R&D before it can be implemented operationally or used for making decisions about observational requirements.
These can be summarised as follows:
Work is needed on the causes of aviation accidents in Europe, to establish how many have been weather related and which factors were the most critical. Future studies should focus on meteorological parameters in isolation. That is, the effect of wind and the effect of temperature on aircraft would be two separate studies. For all meteorological effects, future studies should evaluate the cost-benefit ratio of improved detection and prediction.