Aviation Weather:

Status of FAA's New Hazardous Weather Detection and Dissemination Systems

RCED-87-208: Published: Sep 29, 1987. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) efforts to: (1) develop better ground-based hazardous weather detection systems; and (2) disseminate weather information to pilots in a more timely manner.

GAO found that: (1) the enhanced low-level wind-shear alert system (LLWAS) could not detect wind shears that occurred above or below its ground-based sensors; (2) the terminal next-generation weather radar has a much greater range and is more accurate than LLWAS in detecting wind shears; (3) FAA will replace LLWAS with the terminal doppler weather radar when it becomes available; (4) FAA plans to award a procurement contract for 100 doppler radars in 1988, although the radar has not realized some performance objectives; (5) some of the doppler radar's performance objectives could require competing siting and scanning strategies; (6) FAA was uncertain on how best to use its improved weather detection data; and (7) an effective communication system to inform pilots of weather conditions was at least a decade away.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FAA has already committed the funds.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to inform the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Congress of any performance objectives that the terminal doppler weather radar cannot meet and their impact on safety and cost before committing funds for a procurement contract.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation in RCED-90-17 has superseded the recommendation in RCED-87-208.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop guidance on how air traffic controllers are to monitor the airport surveillance radar weather display and what hazardous weather information they are to disseminate to pilots.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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