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"Impact of Convective Weather on New York Area Arrivals" Video Transcript

Impact of Convective Weather on New York Area Arrivals

This is a recording of airplanes flying in the eastern half of the United States. The gray dots represent aircraft flying at high altitudes between airports. The blue lines are aircraft headed to the New York area airports. The legend in the lower left hand corner displays the current number of aircraft flying in this area. Convective weather intensity is also shown. Green is low intensity and red is high intensity.

When the convective weather covers the New York region, fewer aircraft are allowed to land per hour. Fewer aircraft landing per hour causes delays for passengers who often have to circle in the air prior to being allowed to land. Watch as some aircraft from the south maneuver their way through the storms while some are routed north to join up with other aircraft before they proceed easterly. Also note the aircraft routed off screen through Canada.

Air traffic management research at NASA Ames addresses the future demands of passengers, airlines, and the nation’s air traffic control system. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently handling nearly 120,000 flights per day. By 2025, Air traffic is predicted to double or triple over the traffic you are watching now.

Here is a detailed look at the same traffic and weather surrounding the New York area. All but five specific flights into the New York area are shown allowing us to examine their flight track changes due to weather. The aircraft flight plans are show in blue, along with the actual flight routes.

Observe the aircraft leaving Boston in the upper right. On its way to New York, the aircraft is turned out over the ocean and circles to await its landing slot, but the aircraft returns to Boston due to weather and the constraint in place that fewer aircraft can land in New York. The other aircraft continue circling and are eventually allowed to proceed to their destination.

Weather accounts for 70 percent of all delays with convective weather accounting for 60 percent of all weather related delays. Weather information must be translated into its impact on the national airspace system and integrated with computer algorithms to improve air traffic management in all weather conditions. Inaccurate forecasts increase flight time and, on average, cause a 6-gallon increase in fuel consumed for each minute of unnecessary circling and rerouting.

If we can better predict how many aircraft can fly near or through weather, as well as better predict how many aircraft per hour can land at airports during weather, we can calculate the proposed paths that all aircraft should fly to improve the efficiency of air travel. This then burns less fuel, causes less damage to the environment, and improves the flying experience for the general public.

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Last Updated: October 13, 2016

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