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NCAR News Release
2002-20 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 9, 2002

NCAR Receives FAA's Excellence in Aviation Award

Contact:

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
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E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

BOULDER—The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) was one of several laboratories and universities honored by the Federal Aviation Administration's Excellence in Aviation Award, announced last week. NCAR is a participant in the FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program, which was singled out for the agency's annual award.

The Excellence in Aviation designation is a highly competitive, non-monetary award presented each year to individuals and/or institutions that show how their past research benefits the aviation community today. Through this award, the FAA formally recognizes significant accomplishments as a result of aviation-related research efforts. This special distinction gives the government an opportunity to recognize superior research efforts and to highlight the benefits of such activities.

FAA funding supports NCAR research on turbulence, in-flight icing, on-ground deicing, thunderstorm forecasts, cloud ceiling and visibility, and weather forecasting over the oceans.

"Safety is the largest single driver of our research," says Bruce Carmichael, who heads NCAR's FAA-sponsored work. "Aviation and threatening weather can be a bad mix." For example, turbulence can result in injuries, especially for flight attendants, who are less likely to be belted into their seats. In-flight icing is especially dangerous for commuter aircraft and general aviation, because smaller planes fly at lower, more ice-prone altitudes than big jets.

"Our other goal is efficiency," adds Carmichael. "We try to forecast both airport and in-flight weather to mitigate its impact on air traffic flow. More precise forecasts can reduce the number of cancellations and delays, saving the airlines millions of dollars each year," he says.

"Inclement weather is responsible for 69 percent of flight delays and approximately 30 percent of fatal accidents," says Charlie Keegan, the FAA's associate administrator for Research and Acquisitions. "The laboratories supporting our weather research program are providing critical safety enhancements by developing tools to generate more accurate and accessible weather observations, warnings, and forecasts."

These FAA-funded organizations are providing the applied research to solve critical operational aviation weather issues, the FAA stated in the award announcement. Working as part of multi-discipline teams, the researchers' efforts are enhanced through collaboration with industry, other national laboratories, government agencies, academia, and trade associations.

Other participants in the FAA's Weather Research Program and recipients of the award are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratories; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Forecast Systems Laboratory, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Aviation Weather Center, and National Centers for Environmental Prediction; the Naval Research Laboratory; the University of Quebec at Montreal; the University of Alaska Fairbanks; San Jose State University; and the University of Oklahoma.

NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

-The End-

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The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by UCAR under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any of UCAR's sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

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