In 2017 alone, there were over 318 natural disasters worldwide that affected more than 96 million people. More than 9,500 lives were lost and $314 billion in damages were incurred, according to the International Disaster Databases. Fifteen of these disasters were experienced by the United States, and together they caused more than $15 billion in damages. The four major hurricanes that hit the United States in 2017 caused massive damage, displacement, and they affected everything from running water to our airspace. Innovative technologies are being utilized throughout the airspace to ensure flights and landings in inclement weather are completed safely. The New Airspace has compiled the top stories surrounding airspace technology and natural disasters. Read on to learn more.
The U.S. Air Force’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the Hurricane Hunters, is based out of Biloxi, Mississippi, and gathers information for the National Hurricane Center to predict a storm’s direction and intensity. This information is collected from within the storm itself and passed on to weather services and airports to ensure the safety of the public. The Hurricane Hunters’ planes are equipped with temperature, pressure, and altitude probes. They also have devices that determine surface-level wind speeds by analyzing the choppiness of the ocean’s waves.
A data collection flight can last 10 to 12 hours, with the majority of flight time spent inside the storm. The information collected on these flights is given to the National Hurricane Center, which creates a computer model of the storm to predict how fast the storm will move, when the storm will hit land, and the potential damage it will cause.
Read more on Popular Science.
Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), a satellite navigation system used for civil aviation, helps ensure the safe passage of aircraft, even during hurricane season. Using WAAS, pilots and air traffic controllers are aware of where they are in the airspace compared to any potential hazards, allowing for easy maneuvering around storms. WAAS provides en route navigation, horizontal and vertical navigation through all phases of flight, and vertically-guided approaches.
WAAS by Raytheon supports global positioning features that will enhance GPS satellite signal issues, timing lags, and orbit adjustments. Augmented GPS satellite service has been provided by WAAS, helping aircraft navigate throughout flights from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, since 2003.
Read more here.
After Hurricane Harvey last August, drones were used to inspect infrastructure, determine damaged and flooded areas, and aid in recovery response. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) also were utilized during Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, proving that drones can have a positive use in disaster recovery. Operators and emergency personnel are being trained to handle drones in preparation for the 2018 hurricane season, which began on June 1.
“We’re just in the first inning,” said Christopher Todd, founder of Airborne Response and director of the AUVSI Miami Satellite Chapter. “Drones are going to revolutionize storm and disaster response.”
Read more on Inside Unmanned Systems.
JPALS, Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, is used by the U.S. Navy to ensure safe landing of aircraft in any weather. This cutting-edge technology guides pilots to safe landings on carriers or rough terrain in inclement weather. Using a differential GPS and secure data link, JPALS can reliably guide aircraft to a precise landing target every time.
To learn more about how JPALS works, watch this video.
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