Airlines To Share Turbulence Data In Real Time

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

IATA has launched the ‘Turbulence Aware’ data resource to help airlines avoid turbulence when planning routes tactically in flight. Turbulence Aware augments an airline’s ability to forecast and avoid turbulence by pooling and sharing -- in real time -- turbulence data generated by participating airlines.  

Until now, airlines have relied upon pilot reports and weather advisories to mitigate the impact of turbulence on their operations. IATA says that these tools, while effective, have limitations due to the fragmentation of the data sources, inconsistencies in the level and quality of information available, and the locational imprecision and the subjectivity of the observations. 

For example, there is no standardized scale for the severity of turbulence that a pilot may report other than a light, moderate or severe scale, which becomes very subjective among different-sized aircraft and pilot experience.

Turbulence Aware improves on the industry’s capabilities by collecting data from multiple contributing airlines, followed by a rigorous quality control. The data is then consolidated into a single, anonymized, objective 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 the first global, real-time, detailed and objective information for pilots and operations professionals to manage turbulence.

“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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“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.”

According to the FAA, turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to passengers and crew in non-fatal accidents 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. 

IATA says Turbulence Aware is already generating significant interest among airlines. Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Aer Lingus have signed contracts; Delta is already contributing its data to the program. 

The first operational version of the platform will be developed by end of this year. Operational trials will run throughout 2019, with ongoing feedback collection from participating airlines.  The final product will be launched in early 2020.  

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.



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