Hazardous Weather Detection and Dissemination Systems

T-RCED-87-43: Published: Sep 30, 1987. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1987.

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GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) existing and planned hazardous weather detection and dissemination systems for major airports. GAO noted that the: (1) enhanced low-level wind-shear alert system cannot detect wind shears that occur above the ground-based sensors or beyond the airport's boundaries; and (2) next-generation terminal weather radar and terminal doppler weather radar use state-of-the-art technology to measure wind intensity, a capability present equipment does not have. GAO also noted that FAA: (1) plans to procure doppler radar before it knows whether the radar can meet all performance objectives; (2) may have to reconsider various siting and scanning strategies when its research is complete; and (3) has not determined how controllers will monitor radar information or what information they will disseminate to pilots. GAO believes that FAA should: (1) determine the performance objectives that the doppler radar cannot meet and their impact on safety and cost before committing funds for procurement; and (2) develop more specific guidance for air traffic controllers.