What does air turbulence have to do with saving fuel? Well, when an airline is aware of sufficiently bad turbulence in a particular area, they often fly around it instead of through it. By altering their course, they are using more fuel. But, a new system is in the works which may alleviate some of this course-alteration. The system, designed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), is now being tested by United Airlines on commercial flights. The system uses an advanced algorithm which analyzes data from the National Weather Service.
Apparently, testing shows that the system works as advertised. "The messages I've received in the cockpit gave a very accurate picture of turbulence location and intensity," says Captain Rocky Stone, chief technical pilot for United Airlines. "The depiction of turbulence intensity provides an unprecedented and extremely valuable new tool for pilot situational awareness."
"We hope this will provide a significant boost to the aviation industry in terms of passenger comfort, safety, and reduced costs," NCAR scientist John Williams says. We hope so too.