• Systems approach for applying remote video technology and the Internet to real time weather and runway condition reporting for aviation use: Case study at rural airports in interior Alaska

      Buckingham, James Miller; Perkins, Robert; Ra, Jang (2000)
      Aviation is critical to the infrastructure of Alaska. However, systems that provide runway and weather condition information about rural airstrips are not meeting the needs of the aviation community. Accordingly, aviation safety is compromised, efficiency of operations is reduced and service to clients is mediocre. Research was conducted to determine methods of improving the accuracy and reliability of runway and weather condition reporting Systems in Interior Alaska. A thorough background study of current reporting systems was conducted. A statistical study of aviation accidents in Interior Alaska was completed to document the premise that runway condition and weather reporting systems contribute to the problem. Current reporting systems were analyzed to isolate root causes of system degradation. An analysis of primary stakeholders associated with aviation reporting systems was completed. An hypothesis was formed which favored the use of remote video camera technology to provide near real-time weather information directly to end users A $114 K grant was obtained to conduct a test of the capabilities and benefits that would accrue from transmitting images of distant runway and sky conditions onto the Internet. For nine months, images of the sky and runway from three distant airstrips in Ruby, Kaltag and Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska were transferred every thirty minutes to a publicly accessible website for use by the aviation community in assessing current conditions for preflight planning. Technical feasibility was confirmed. It was clearly determined that the system exceeded the expectations of the aviation community and provided greatly improved weather information to pilots. The aviation community in Interior Alaska has embraced the concept, used it operationally and declared it to be a critical enhancement to current systems. The project was an overwhelming success as confirmed by surveys, national and international media releases, and intense interest in the project by both private and governmental agencies. Aspects of the system are now patent pending. The research concluded that the remote video concept should be expanded throughout Alaska under the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and/or the National Weather Service (NWS). Strong evidence was obtained to support potential expansion throughout the United States and internationally.