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Aviation Weather

Introduction

Weather information for aviation has traditionally been provided by government’s meteorological agencies in charge of the respective air spaces. Meteorology is now a highly developed science that utilizes a variety of instruments for data acquisition, and sophisticated weather models and supercomputers to predict meteorological conditions. In its early days aviation depended entirely on visual clues for navigation to destination, avoidance of collisions and avoidance of bad weather. Commercial airliners usually fly over long distances and must ensure a very high degree of passenger safety and comfort. The global nature of civil aviation operations necessitates the use of standardized and open support systems. A large number of electronic systems were built to satisfy these requirements. Among these are a number of modern instruments designed to sense weather and other atmospheric phenomena of importance to aviation.

Aircraft Disasters

Being considered the safest mode of transportation, airplane crashes occur in the history of the aviation industry. There are different factors that may lead to these dangerous situations. Due to the numerous risks, which can lead to catastrophes, it is important to identify the possible risks in order to prevent them in future. The most important value of every airline is its safety. First of all, safety is identified by technical maintenance of aircrafts and those, who are responsible for them, i.e. engineers, builders, dispatchers and pilots, supposed to be well-trained in order to handle extreme situations (Roger, 2003). Another important aspect of safety is protection of terrorism and hijackings, which have become extremely dangerous during the last decades. The airlines must be responsible for the safety of their passengers during flights. Aircraft disasters may occur because of objective and subjective reasons. Subjective reasons may include a maintenance fault, pilot error or terrorist attack. Objective reasons are those, which are dependent on weather conditions, such as: lightening, ice and snow, bird strike, hail and dust, volcanic ash, ground damage or electromagnetic interference (Bigano et al, 2005). Aircraft pilots are supposed to be well-trained and experienced in order to prevent any situations that can lead to aircraft catastrophe.

Items like hail and dust can harm essential parts of the plane, such as engine. This happened, for example, to Air France Flight 4590 in 2000, when a part from another aircraft fell down after hitting. As a result, it crashed into a hotel in Goness, France. All crew members and one hundred passengers onboard died. Volcanic ash can cause the disruption of an aircraft. It happened to British Airways Flight 9 from London to Auckland in 1982 (Shari, 1996). The aeroplane flew into volcanic ash after the eruption, and as a result, four engines failed. The crew members could land the aicraft gliding to exit the ash cloud. Lightening can cause to aicraft disaster as well. For example, in 1963 the Pan American Flight 214 crashed, because it was hit by lightning near Elkton, Maryland. Eighty one people and the crew members died. Such aircraft crashes are very rare today due to the modification of aeroplanes, but risks are still possible.

Aviation Weather Affectiveness

The design and development of multiple sophisticated and dedicated aviation weather surveillance systems form a recent field of activity, and the equipment resulting from such activity are gaining widespread acceptance. The effectiveness of modern air traffic control systems is proven by the fact that commercial aviation is now among the safest forms of aviation. Yet, the research asserts that the specter of aviation disaster has gone away. Vivid visuals of airline crashes falsh across the world’s television screens at periodic intervals, inspiring a feeling of awe and jolting humans’ sense of complacency. The reasons that airdisasters make bold headlines are many, ranging from economic to social and psychological, and even political. Individual airline crashes cost heavily in terms of men, materials and money. In many societies, it is only the upper crust of the population that gets the privilage of air travel, and air disasters often result in the death of the rich and the powerful of all sections of society, including government and business people. Many heads of states and governments have lost their lives in the aeroplane accidents, with profound effects on the politics and economy of their countries. Thus the cosequential affects of aircrashes may be many times more than the direct losses resulting from them. Each air crash reinforces a popular perception of the unsafe nature of air travel.

The research asserts that modern electronic systems have been designed in the service of aviation from the weather point of view (Bigano et al, 2005). To predict meteorological conditions, different instuments are used. The instruments include in situ sensors on or near the surface of the earth, and remote observing devices, such as weather radars and sattelites. In quantitative terms meteorological instrumentation has been able to provide accurate data for use in many fields of activity, such as hydrology, dam design and construction, irrigation, agriculture, outdoor sports and advanture, and military operations. While the growth and reach of the general meteorological facilities and information have been impressive, general meteorological data products cannot be used directly to satisfy all the weather needs of aviation. The requirements of wether information from the aviation point of view in many significant ways differ from other areas of human activities. The differences peretain to the nature of the parameters of interest, the spatial and temporal scales of observation, and the mode of dissemination and utilisation of information. Such special requirements have made aviation weather a distinct discipline of study.

Aviation Weather Surveillance

Weather has always been an important concern for aviation, but the scientific and engineering disciplines relating to aviation weather studies and instrumentation have received a major boost in the past two or threee decades. During this period there has been a rapid progress in the finer understanding of the nature of different types of atmospheric processes that are significant from the aviation point of view. As a result of focused and direct research, fairly clear insight has been gained into the interaction of atmospheric processes with aircraft in flight, the process of detection of severe weather phenomena, and the estimation of their potential hazard (Roger, 2003). This insight has not only helped to reinforce the motivation, but also provided the knowledge input necessary for the design and development of advanced surveillance systems for the mitigation of the deleterious effects of weather on aviation.

Aviation weather surveillance is a multidisciplinary field of activity, drawing from at least three major disciplines in sciense and technology. First, it relates to the auronautical sciences. Second, it naturally relates to the broader sciense of meteorology. Finally, because of the stringent demands imposed by aviation applications, aviation weather surveillance depends heavily on electronics for sensing, processing, communication and display of weather information. Aviation weather surveillance and information systems must fit into, and be compatible with the broder system structure intended to facilitate aircraft navigation. Particular emphasis must be done on air traffic control, air traffic services, and such important system elements as radars and communication sybsystems. According to the research, weather impacts almost all aspects of aviation operations: safety, passenger comfort, schedule-keeping and operating efficiency and economy (Mahapatra et al, 1999). The atmospheric processes adversely impacting aviation owe their origins to certain weather phenomena, such as fog, hail, lightning, etc. the details of the weather environments help in appreciating the detection aspects of aviation-hazardeous weather phenomena. In particular, the thundsrstorm environment may affect aviation adversely. The nature of the precipitation and wind fields is associated with various types of hazardous features may help in understanding the radar signatures of these phenomena. The cornstone of modern aviation weather surveillance system is the Doppler weather radar used for atmospheric observation.

A number of sensors, other than radar are also very useful in the case of the modern aviation weather surveillance. Among them are wind profilers, which yield the vertical distribution of horizontal wind at a given location, radio acoustic sounding systems capable for providing the atmosphere temperature profiles, the low-level wind share alert system that warns of the existance of gust fronts and microbursts in airport areas, automated weather observing systems, and sattelites as observers of local weather phenomena.

Conclusion

To conclude, it is worth mentioning that aviation weather surveillance is an important issue. Different weather phenomena, such as thunderstorms, in flight icing, fog, lighting and hail can close airports, remove aircrafts from operations, reroute and delay commercial carries. All these conditions lead to the loose of passenger time, revenues, and excessive maintenance costs. According to the research, weather impacts almost all aspects of aviation operations: safety, passenger comfort, schedule-keeping and operating efficiency and economy (Mahapatra et al, 1999). Meteorology utilizes a variety of instruments for data acquisition, and sophisticated weather models and supercomputers for meteorological conditions prediction. The modern procedures that may be done to insure that particular weather event would not affect aviation weather anymore are now available in all international airports.

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