FSL Evaluating New Weather Sensor System for Commercial Aircraft

The NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory, in cooperation with the National Weather Service and NASA, has begun a 6-month evaluation of a new weather sensor designed for installation on regional commercial aircraft. The sensor, called TAMDAR for Tropospheric Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay, was developed by AirDat LLC under contract with NASA. The TAMDAR sensor measures temperature, winds aloft, humidity, turbulence, and icing, all of which can affect aviation safety.

TAMDAR is being installed on 64 turboprop aircraft operated in the U.S. Midwest by Mesaba Airlines (known to the public as Northwest Airlink). This regional airline flies shorter flights at lower altitudes than most aircraft that have been providing automated meteorological reports (MDCRS data). The data will therefore fill data-sparse regions below 20,000 feet between major airports.

FSL began receiving TAMDAR data on January 15, 2005, and is quality controlling the data through the NOAA Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS). The data are being ingested into a research version of the NOAA Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) model, and forecasts from this model will be evaluated against forecasts from an identical model that does not include the TAMDAR data.

In addition, the data are being made available on the FSL aircraft data display website (restricted to NOAA and selected other users), and through FSL's MADIS data distribution to NWS Forecast Offices. TAMDAR data can be displayed on AWIPS workstations to help NWS forecasters determine the value of these data in improving weather forecasts for aviation and the general public.

Initial comparisons between data from TAMDAR, radiosondes, other aircraft, and RUC forecast fields are encouraging.

Contact information
Name: Bill Moninger
Tel: 303-497-6435
william.r.moninger@noaa.gov