The AIRWOLF Tool
Ulf Ahlstrom, PhD.
John T. DiRico
Ahlstrom, U., DiRico, J. T., & Stephenson, K. (2010). The AIRWOLF tool to support en route controller weather advisories (DOT/FAA/TC-10/09). Atlantic City International Airport, NJ: Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center.
In current en route operations, controllers integrate weather information and traffic data manually while providing advisories to pilots. Previously, we developed a weather support tool called Automatic Identification of Risky Weather Objects in Line of Flight (AIRWOLF) that (a) detects conflicts between aircraft and hazardous weather, (b) alerts the controller, and (c) generates automatic weather advisories. Automated weather advisories based on the AIRWOLF tool could support the controller by eliminating the need for a manual integration of traffic and weather data, thereby reducing the total time it takes a controller to provide an advisory. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated our AIRWOLF weather support tool in a part-task simulation. During the simulation, participants responded to the AIRWOLF tool alerts by providing weather advisories via radio or data link communication. The results showed that it took, on average, 27 seconds to manually compose and transmit a weather advisory by radio (currently used in Air Traffic Control). When participants used automatic weather advisories, it reduced the advisory time by approximately 7 seconds. When participants used data link communication with the AIRWOLF tool, the weather advisory times were reduced by as much as 16 seconds. These results show that the AIRWOLF tool could reduce advisory time and support controllers for the safe, efficient, and strategic efforts required to handle adverse weather conditions in the en route environment.