Using GIS to Enhance Aviation Decision Support Services for the Federal Aviation Administration at the Memphis Center Weather Service Unit (274)

Nick Uebelhor, National Weather Service - Center Weather Service Unit, Memphis, TN



Center Weather Service Units (CWSU) provide National Weather Service (NWS) decision support daily to FAA air-traffic controllers. While the meteorological knowledge provided by the onsite meteorologists is most crucial, only so much can be explained through direct communication between the Federal Aviation Administration Traffic Management, Supervisor and Controller Staff. The development of near-real time graphics that correlate aviation hazards to specific regions/airspace can be used to provide a more simplistic view of impacts affecting controllers. Graphics using GIS to correlate hazards can also play a significant role in meteorologists' situational awareness.

The Memphis CWSU (ZME) uses the GIS interface within a database to correlate current and forecast hazardous weather conditions. FAA controllers are divided into certain areas of responsibility called areas and sectors. GIS software within the database can be used to make graphics that give a color coded description of the intensity or level of a hazard in the specific areas or sectors. ZME is already using the graphics that have been created to supply controllers, area supervisors and traffic management controllers with decision aids. We have received positive feedback about the information provided enhancing their hazardous weather situational awareness and helping them to meet certain requirements.

Increasing awareness of weather information is important to Area Supervisors and controllers, who have a limited amount of weather information, and it can save lives. A general outline of the process used to set up a database, create graphics and the challenges in doing so will be shared during this presentation. Also discussed will be how graphics are displayed on the ZME website and future uses. The hope is that the most helpful graphics and decision aids can be used by others (National Centers or CWSUs) across the country.