Development of Tactical Lightning Avoidance Product for Terminal Weather Support
Abstract:Aircraft initiated or intercepted lightning is one of significant issues for civilian flight operation in Japan. It is much less possible than the past that lightning strikes cause fatal aircraft accidents thanks to both of certifications of aircraft design for lightning strikes and many of weather supports for aircraft operation. However, hundreds of lightning strikes to aircrafts have still been reported in each recent year in Japan, and airlines have been forced to delay or cancel most of those flights and to cost several hundred millions of yen for repair. Especially, lightning discharges during winter in the coastal area of the Sea of Japan frequently cause heavy damages on aircrafts due to their large charge transfer. It is important in actual aircraft operation that observed meteorological parameters are converted to decision-making information. Otherwise, pilots, controllers, or operators need to learn meteorology as much as weather experts, and to owe hard work load to interpret observed meteorological data to their risk. Ideally, it is desired to automatically provide them with predicted operation risk, for example, delay time, possibility of flight cancellation, and repair cost caused by lightning.
Our research group has just started development of tactical lightning avoidance product, where a risk index of an aircraft operation due to lightning is calculated mainly from three novel observation devices: The phased array weather radar has potential to detect thunderstorms in their early stage due to the high volume scan rate of 10 – 30 sec. A lightning mapping system, such as Broadband Observation network for Lightning and Thunderstorm, indicates electrical structure inside clouds in concert with a co-located radar data. Aircraft sounding and real-time data downlink, especially high-frequency data provided by Secondary Surveillance Radar mode S, gives in-situ measurements of wind and temperature. Especially the in-situ temperature data can indicate altitudes of electrical charge separation. An integrated data processing method to output the tactical lightning avoidance product will be developed by analyzing data obtained in an observation campaign which will have been conducted until 2017. In the presentation, overview and progress of our research and development will be described.