Development of Icing Condition Remote Sensing Systems and their Implications for Future Flight Operations 2003-01-2096
NASA and the FAA are funding the development of ground-based remote sensing systems specifically designed to detect and quantify the icing environment aloft. The goal of the NASA activity is to develop a relatively low cost stand-alone system that can provide practical icing information to the flight community. The goal of the FAA activity is to develop more advanced systems that can identify supercooled large drop (SLD) as well as general icing conditions and be integrated into the existing weather information infrastructure. Both activities utilize combinations of sensing technologies including radar, radiometry, and lidar, along with Internet-available external information such as numerical weather model output where it is found to be useful. In all cases the measured data of environment parameters will need to be converted into a measure of icing hazard before it will be of value to the flying community. Before the technologies currently being developed are made widely available to users, the R&D to operations transition will be controlled by a weather product or hardware technology transfer process. This process assures that the final weather data products are accurate, timely, and robust enough to warrant their use by the aviation community. Once available, these new sources of icing information will have impacts on aviation operations. On the positive side, the overall safety and efficiency of the aviation system will be improved with automated 24/7/365 icing information. With icing data always available, flight crews, dispatchers, and traffic controllers can make better-informed strategic and tactical decisions. Always-available icing state data will benefit weather forecast models with improved initiation and verification data. On the downside, the definition of “known icing” will need to be addressed to handle the presence of knowledge of the icing environment without direct aircraft encounters. Also, the ever-expanding catalog of weather information will be increased with yet another parameter that must be ingested, processed, disseminated, and understood. All users -- from forecasters to flight crews -- will need to be trained to properly understand and use this new form of weather product.