A TARGETED APPROACH TO PROVIDE WEATHER GUIDANCE FOR GENERAL AVIATION PILOTS BASED ON ESTIMATED TIME OF DEPARTURE AND PERSONAL WEATHER MINIMUMS
1 online resource (187 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Over the last two decades, general aviation pilots in the United States, especially those who fly light fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, have portrayed high rates of vulnerability to weather-related accidents. This high vulnerability rate is in stark contrast to the increased availability of weather reports and forecasts, which has vastly improved given the wide variety of weather guidance now available online and in the cockpit. More specifically, VFR (Visual Flight Rules) into IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) flights is the leading cause of fatal weather-related accidents. A common contributor to these fatal accidents is the pilot’s inability to definitively assess the hazard prior to departure from the relevant weather guidance available. Therefore, it is hypothesized in this research that the lack of sufficient weather reports and forecasts are not a core dilemma, but instead the primary contributing factor is an inaccurate or incomplete weather assessment by pilots before a flight.In this light, it has become apparent that pilots need a well-integrated route-based application that simplifies and organizes weather guidance in a way that requires less technical interpretation, quantifies the risk and gives time-based options to minimize a pilot’s exposure to adverse weather. Consequently, this presents the opportunity for a targeted software application that will eliminate or significantly reduce weather-related accidents especially for pilots planning VFR flights.This research therefore developed a clear assessment of weather-related accidents through a review of the literature and a questionnaire-based survey given to a group of general aviation pilots who fly light fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in the United States. From these responses, a standard set of personal weather minimum categories was developed based on key adverse weather conditions to evaluate weather-related risks. This included the creation of twelve personal minimum categories that encapsulate the ceiling height, surface visibility and surface wind as well as the risk of airframe icing, turbulence and convective potential that are evaluated for the departure and destination airports and along the route of flight as applicable.The product of this research created an automated online decision-making tool that downloads and stores the latest weather forecasts for key aviation weather variables that contribute to accidents. The application accepts and stores the pilot’s personal weather minimums and evaluates these against the weather along the pilot’s proposed route of flight. The results are depicted graphically in an intuitive way to quantify the overall personal exposure to adverse weather. This is encapsulated in a departure advisor that depicts the personal risk relative to the time of departure over the next 2-3-day period. Moreover, an interactive map and vertical profile was created to allow the pilot to visualize in time and space these weather threats of IMC, wind, airframe icing and turbulence along the pilot’s route. With this time-based approach and intuitive visualizations, such a tool if used prior to a flight will allow GA pilots to choose the optimal time to depart and limit most accidents due to encounters with adverse weather, especially those related to VFR into IMC.
Infrastructure & Environmental Systems
Magi, BrianDavenport, CaseyScheff, JacobBoyd, Suzanne
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2021.
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