UCAR Communications


staff notes monthly

November 2002

NCAR receives national FAA award

NCAR was one of several laboratories and universities honored last month by the FAA’s Excellence in Aviation Award.

The institution participates in the FAA’s Aviation Weather Research Program, which was singled out for the agency’s annual award. NCAR scientists, supported by FAA funding, conduct research on turbulence, in-flight icing, ground deicing, thunderstorm forecasting, cloud ceiling and visibility, and weather forecasting over the oceans.

“Safety is the largest single driver of our research,” says Bruce Carmichael (Research Applications Program), who heads NCAR’s FAA-sponsored work. “Aviation and threatening weather can be a bad mix.”

Inclement weather is blamed for 30% of fatal aircraft accidents, and it can also cause injuries, especially in turbulent conditions. 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.

Since bad weather is also responsible for 69% of flight delays, NCAR’s research provides a financial boost to the aviation industry.

“We try to forecast both airport and in-flight weather to mitigate its impact on air traffic flow,” says Bruce. “More precise forecasts can reduce the number of cancellations and delays, saving the airlines millions of dollars each year.”

About 70 staffers in RAP are heavily involved in the program, and MMM and ATD staffers also work on FAA projects. Research leads include Barb Brown (verification), Paul Herzegh (national ceiling and visibility), Tenny Lindholm (oceanic weather), Cindy Mueller (convective weather), Marcia Politovich (icing), Roy Rasmussen (ground deicing), Bob Sharman (turbulence), Greg Thompson (Web site development of the Aviation Digital Data Service), and Wes Wilson (terminal ceiling and visibility).

The Excellence in Aviation designation is a highly competitive, non- monetary award presented each year to individuals 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.

“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,” says Charlie Keegan, the FAA’s associate administrator for research and acquisitions.

Other participants in the FAA’s Weather Research Program and recipients of the award are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratories; NOAA’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 José State University; and the University of Oklahoma. •Anatta

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