A new airborne network concept to improve air navigation safety
This conceptual paper investigates the data exchange of on-board weather radar data of commercial passenger and cargo aircraft to improve weather coverage and subsequently air navigation safety. Up-to-date and real-time weather information at cruising altitudes is often not available, but is critical to flight safety. Therefore, all such commercial aircraft are equipped with on-board weather radars. Such an on-board radar enables the aircraft to monitor the local weather at distant locations and aspect angles that are often out of range of ground radars. At present, the aircraft only uses this information locally. However, this local weather can be shared with ground stations to complement and fill in the large gaps within the existing ground measured meteorological data. Bi-direction information exchange could improve air traffic safety further. Moreover, aircraft could share their own radar data while receiving information not only from ground or space-based radars, but also from other nearby aircraft. Hence, the exchange of local weather data can significantly enhance a pilot's knowledge of the weather in the local airspace. Moreover, it will improve turbulence and bird flock detection, improve the measurement of cloud development, and provide information about weather phenomena that are both out of range of ground radar and the aircraft's own radar. The weather agencies of different countries can store and process such shared aircraft measured radar data allowing for a more accurate and up-to-date knowledge of the weather within the global airspace. In turn, each aircraft can be provided with the weather data that is relevant to its route and based on the most recent observation. This paper considers various high-level aspects concerning the exchange of airborne weather data to improve flight safety. The status and limitations of existing air traffic weather data is discussed. The advantages of exchanging local airborne weather data is investigated by considering a number of applications alongside existing equipment and regulations in use.