IATA’s “Turbulence Aware” program is seeing respectable progress following the launch of the initiative in December 2018.

Turbulence Aware is a data-sharing system that aims to enhance flight safety and fuel optimization among partnering airlines. The platform will enable aircraft to share potential turbulence data on a particular route, enabling following aircraft to better make better operational decisions to avoid the affected area. Algorithms within the aircraft will be able to calculate the intensity of the turbulence and the data is transmitted real time to other aircraft via a ground station.

The program started with three airlines—Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, Chicago-based United Airlines and Ireland flag carrier Aer Lingus—but within six months has expanded to 18 carriers as part of the operational trial. According to IATA’s website, advisory group airlines also include Air France, Dallas-based American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, UK LCC easyJet, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Dallas/Fort Worth-based Southwest, Swiss International Airlines and Canadian LCC WestJet.  

Six of these airlines are currently feeding over 100,000 daily reports to the platform.

“As pilots are able to predict turbulence ahead, they are able to turn on the seat belt sign in advance and prevent injury caused by turbulence,” IATA SVP-safety & flight operations Gilberto Lopez Meyer said.

He explained that since the data are derived from the angle of attack sensor, there are no requirements to install additional sensors on the aircraft and installation time is only a day or two.

Lopez Meyer also said participating airlines would have to pay a fee to subscribe to the service, and IATA would have control of the management of the given data.

Currently, weather radar on board airliners are unable to detect clear air turbulence effectively and pilots usually rely on pilot reports via radio or air traffic control to predict oncoming rough air.

Chen Chuanren, chuanren@purplelightvisuals.com