UpTime Cloud

National Weather Service Benefits from Aircraft-Based Observations

Executive Summary

FLYHT is collecting weather data from over 300 aircraft worldwide using its TAMDAR and AFIRS systems. FLYHT has an end-to-end solution powered by AWS that collects weather observations from the aircraft, quality controls and processes the data before sending the data to the international weather community. This data is used by the weather community to improve weather model forecasts as well as short-term operational forecasts. These improved weather forecasts have the potential to have significant positive environmental impacts for airlines as well as other industries.    

Customer Challenge

Vertical profile data is an extremely important dataset for both the accuracy of weather models and short-term forecasting of extreme weather events. However, this data is somewhat limited. The National Weather Service launches weather balloons twice daily from 92 sites across the U.S. and 10 additional sites in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, due to the standardized timing of the launch’s, sounding information is not collected during the afternoon, which is extremely valuable information since this is when convective weather typically peaks.

Launching a weather balloon is also very expensive and has dire environmental impacts as majority of these weather balloons and electronic devices fall to the ground in remote areas and waterways and are never recovered.

FLYHT’s Solution

FLYHT has the only two aircraft-based water vapor detection systems available, TAMDAR and WVSS-II. These devices are installed on commercial aircraft, so we can make use of aircraft that are already flying around the world to collect atmospheric data, minimizing the environmental impact of collecting these valuable observations. The data collected includes latitude, longitude, altitude, relative humidity, temperature, wind speed and direction throughout the entire flight. The data collected on a planes ascent and descent is considered the most valuable data to meteorologists as this is the data that creates a sounding, this is the same data that is received from a weather balloon. This data is feed through the AWS system to the weather community in near real-time.

FLYHT’s Uptime Cloud ground application is an AWS hosted application utilizing Amazon VPC, Amazon EC2, Amazon Route 53, Amazon GuardDuty, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) and Amazon RDS services.

AWS’s cost-effective, secure and rich service set allowed FLYHT to deliver customer value quickly and at a long-term sustainable cost.

Results and Benefits

Detecting weather parameters including water vapor through the atmosphere during a plane’s ascent, cruise and decent is critical for:

  • Monitoring rain/freezing rain/snow line
  • Improving ceiling and visibility forecasts
  • Improving severe weather forecasts
  • Improving fire weather forecasts

A recent NOAA experiment showed that aircraft weather observations remain the most important observation type for rapidly updating short-range regional weather models. The improvement in these rapidly updating short term forecasts allows airlines to optimize flight plans which minimizes fuel usage which in turn reduces the global carbon footprint.    

This data can also be beneficial to airlines for contrail avoidance. Contrail cirrus is the largest non-CO2 effect on climate from aviation. With more in-situ weather data and increased accuracy in short-term weather models flight levels can be optimized not just for flight path but to minimize contrail formation.

AWS helps FLYHT to process and distribute this data in an efficient and cost-effective manner, giving meteorologists and airlines access to critical in-situ weather observations to drive weather models and monitor severe weather. This ultimately leads to better weather-related decisions which provides not only an enhanced level of safety to the general public but also significant fuel cost savings to airlines and positive environmental impacts.

About National Weather Service

NWS Mission: Provide weather, water and climate data, forecasts, warnings, and impact-based decision support services for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.

About FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd.

FLYHT provides airlines with Actionable Intelligence to transform operational insight into immediate, quantifiable action, delivering industry leading solutions to improve aviation safety, efficiency and profitability. This unique capability is driven by FLYHT’s patented aircraft certified hardware products including AFIRS™, a satcom aircraft interface device which enables real-time streaming of flight information, cockpit voice and black box data streaming and TAMDAR™, which aggregates and streams airborne weather data in real-time. FLYHT is headquartered in Calgary, Canada with an office in Littleton, Colorado, and is an AS9100 Quality registered company. For more information, view our latest presentation here