Airport International News - September 2012
US Airport Debut For Turbulence Avoidance System
Posted by Paul Fiddian - Airport International's Lead Reporter on 20/09/2012 - 09:30:00
Turbulent landings at remote US airports may become a thing of the past if technology now approved for one site becomes more widely-adopted.
The US FAA's first-time approval of NCAR's (the National Center for Atmospheric Research's) turbulence avoidance system occurred earlier this summer and, now, the technology's being installed at Juneau International Airport in Alaska.
Situated amidst mountainous terrain, Juneau International's setting can expose aircraft landing there to bumps and jolts as they hit particularly energised air pockets. The turbulence avoidance system can't rid the air of this phenomenon but it can instruct pilots how to route away from it, by drawing on an array of meteorological devices to interpret fast-altering atmospheric data streamed several times a minute.
Turbulence Avoidance System
While Juneau's is the first such system to have been cleared for use in the US, there's been a similar turbulence avoidance system in use at Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong for some years. This, again, was developed by NCAR and, now, the centre has other airports in its sights for the same treatment.
At Juneau, the system is known as JAWS, or the Juneau Airport Wind System, and it has the capability to dramatically cut down on delayed flights. In operation, it allows Juneau International to continue functioning even when turbulence levels are high, by pointing out to pilots how they can avoid especially bumpy air.
Airport Turbulence Avoidance
"The JAWS system has nearly eliminated all the risk of flying in and out of Juneau", explained Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 captain Ken Williams, in an NCAR press release on the first US airport turbulence avoidance system. "I wish the system would be deployed in other airports where there are frequent encounters with significant turbulence, so pilots can get a true understanding of what the actual winds are doing on the surrounding mountainous terrain as you approach or depart."
"By alerting pilots to areas of moderate and severe turbulence, this system enables them to fly more frequently and safely in and out of the Juneau airport in poor weather", added NCAR program manager Alan Yates."It allows pilots to plan better routes, helping to reduce the bumpy rides that passengers have come to associate with airports in these mountainous settings."
Juneau International Airport image copyright FireFly5 - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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