Rough riders: IATA introduces real-time turbulence forecasting

IATA (International Air Transport Association) has announced the launch of its new Turbulence Aware tool. The new resource has been developed to strengthen carriers’ abilities to forecast, track and avoid turbulence.

Today airlines rely upon pilot reports and weather advisories to mitigate the impact of turbulence on their operations. These tools have limitations and currently there is no standard turbulence scale, with reports based upon the subjective assessment of pilots – dependent on factors such as pilot experience and aircraft size – who describe conditions as light, moderate or severe.

Turbulence Aware works by pooling data from contributing airlines. This data is then consolidated into a single, source database which is accessible to participants. Turbulence Aware data is turned into actionable information when fed into an airline’s dispatch or airborne alerting systems.

The result is a global, real-time, detailed and objective information for pilots and operations professionals to manage turbulence.

“The airline industry has always cooperated on safety”

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “Turbulence Aware is a great example of the potential for digital transformation in the airline industry. The airline industry has always cooperated on safety—its number one priority. Big data is now turbocharging what we can achieve.

“In the case of Turbulence Aware, the more precise forecasting of turbulence will provide a real improvement for passengers, whose journeys will be even safer and more comfortable.”

Collaborative approach

The challenge of managing turbulence is expected to grow as climate change continues to impact weather patterns. This has implications for both safety and efficiency of flight.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Aer Lingus have already signed contracts. Delta Air Lines’ senior vice president of flight operations, Jim Graham said: “IATA’s collaborative approach to creating Turbulence Aware with open source data means that airlines will have access to data to better mitigate turbulence.

“Using Turbulence Aware in conjunction with Delta’s proprietary Flight Weather Viewer app is expected to build on the significant reductions we’ve seen already to both turbulence-related crew injuries and carbon emissions year-over-year.”

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