FAA's spring plan clears the air
- By Paula Shaki Trimble
- Mar 12, 2000
Technology that will bring better information to pilots, air traffic controllers
and airline passengers is a top priority in a plan announced Friday by President
Clinton and Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.
The Spring 2000 Initiative, designed to reduce weather-related air traffic
delays this spring and summer, began March 12 and will be fully phased in
April 1. The FAA, airlines and air traffic controllers collaborated on the
plan in response to record numbers of delays because of severe thunderstorms
in the summer of 1999.
The initiative gives the Air Traffic Control System Command Center in
Herndon, Va., increased authority to develop national plans in cooperation
with airlines for routing aircraft around problem areas.
Monte Belger, the FAA's acting deputy administrator, said the keys to
the plan will be:
* Internet access to accurate weather information using a new forecast
* Online portals for weather data to be used by the FAA, airlines, controllers
A product developed by the National Weather Service's Aviation Weather
Center, airline meteorologists and the FAA will provide weather outlooks
of up to six hours to help flight officials route planes around thunderstorms.
The Collaborative Convective Forecast Product allows nationwide severe storm
forecasts to be graphically enhanced and reviewed over the Internet by commercial
airline meteorologists, NWS Air Traffic Weather Service Units and FAA personnel
at the Air Traffic Control System Command Center.
A shared database of current flight information will enable the FAA
and airlines to collaborate on plans and decision-making several times a
day. In the past, those decision-makers used a chat room that often was
cumbersome, said Dorothy Haldeman, program manager for aviation weather
A World Wide Web site (www.fly.faa.gov) will be launched April 3 to give
travelers real-time information about weather and air traffic disruptions.
The FAA also will work with the Defense Department to allow use of military
airspace in severe weather situations.
The FAA is taking "all the right security measures" for the two Web-based
activities, Belger said. The new site designed for flight officials will
not be linked to the FAA's operational system, he said.