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NATCA’s Weather Rep Working to Integrate New Technologies into NAS

Flight delays remain a major problem in the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS), and a significant portion of delays are caused by reductions in en route capacity due to weather. Eric Avila (Houston Center, ZHU) is NATCA’s Article 114 National Weather Representative, and represents NATCA and air traffic controllers around the nation in integration of new weather technologies to improve the NAS.

Avila collaborates with his FAA counterparts on numerous NextGen weather programs. Working together, they are developing weather products that will aid air traffic controllers and air traffic managers in their daily operations.

Currently two systems support air traffic controllers in making plans to mitigate the effects of weather on congested airspace: the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) and Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS).

WARP is the primary source for weather information at the FAA’s air route traffic control centers and the FAA Command Center (DCC). WARP has provided weather data and a workstation to center meteorologists since 1997. CIWS is a fully automated weather analysis and forecasting system that combines weather data from multiple sources to dramatically improve the accuracy and timeliness of storm forecasting.

A new system Avila and his counterparts are working to integrate into the NAS, Aviation Weather Display (AWD), will consolidate the two systems, WARP and CIWS. The AWD will enable traffic managers to evaluate weather impacts and plan initiatives. Air traffic controllers will also have access to the AWD, replacing WARP weather displays, in their areas.

In January, the Human Factors Working Group (HFWG) and Avila hosted management and NATCA subject matter experts (SMEs) to demonstrate the AWD at the William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC) in Atlantic City, N.J. Over three days Avila assisted with demonstrating the AWD to the SMEs and instructing them in how to use it, so that they could provide the HFWG with feedback. The HFWG will work with the vendor to fix issues prior to key site testing, which is planned for Salt Lake City Center (ZLC), Salt Lake City TRACON (S56), Salt Lake City ATCT (SLC), Atlanta Center (ZTL), Atlanta TRACON (A80), Atlanta ATCT (ATL), Oakland Center (ZOA), and San Francisco ATCT (SFO) later this summer. AWD is expected to reach Initial Operating Capability in early 2024.

Read more updates from Avila and NATCA’s National Article 114 Representatives here.

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