Understanding Windshear: Operational Measures for Mitigation
15 January 2024| By Just Aviation Team
Windshear, a complex meteorological phenomenon, poses a unique set of challenges for ground handlers responsible for ensuring the safety and efficiency of aviation operations. This article provides in-depth technical insights into windshear, its characteristics, detection methods, and actionable tips for ground handlers to navigate these challenging conditions effectively.
Windshear is often experienced in microscale phenomena, such as low-level temperature inversions and frictional effects near the Earth’s surface. Ground handlers must comprehend the intricate interactions between these factors and their impact on wind patterns. Recognizing the localized effects of windshear, especially in proximity to large structures like hangars or terminal buildings, is crucial. These localized effects can exacerbate windshear challenges during critical phases of flight.
Detection technologies for windshear in aviation involve advanced systems designed to identify and track rapid changes in wind speed and direction. These systems include:
LIDAR and Doppler Radar Systems
Ground handlers should be well-versed in the application of advanced technologies like LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and Doppler radar systems for detecting windshear. These systems provide real-time data on wind speed and direction variations, aiding in timely decision-making.
Microburst Alert Systems
Implementing microburst alert systems at airports is essential. These systems, based on predictive algorithms and ground-based weather radar, offer early warnings about potential microburst events, enabling ground handlers to take preemptive measures.
Operational considerations in dealing with windshear for aviation involve key practices and strategies for ground operations:
Ground handlers should actively participate in pre-flight briefings, collaborating with meteorologists and pilots to gather comprehensive information on forecasted windshear conditions. This collaboration ensures a shared understanding of potential risks and facilitates proactive planning.
During taxiing, ground handlers should communicate effectively with air traffic control (ATC) to receive updated wind information. Adjusting taxiing routes based on real-time wind conditions contributes to safer ground operations.
Mitigation strategies for windshear in aviation involve proactive measures to minimize risks and ensure safety:
Dynamic Aircraft Weight and Balance Assessment
Ground handlers must consider dynamic changes in aircraft weight and balance during windshear events. Rapid variations in lift and drag may necessitate adjustments in cargo loading to maintain optimal aircraft performance. Additionally, utilizing Low-Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS) and Windshear Warning Systems (WSWS) aids in assessing real-time windshear conditions, enabling swift adjustments in cargo loading for enhanced safety.
Alternate Parking Positions
Establishing alternate parking positions for aircraft during windshear-prone conditions is a strategic measure. Ground handlers should collaborate with airlines and ATC to identify and designate areas less susceptible to windshear effects, leveraging LLWAS and WSWS data for informed decision-making regarding parking positions. This proactive approach minimizes potential risks associated with windshear.
What Is The Difference Between LLWAS & WSWS?
The difference between LLWAS and WSWS is that LLWAS stands for Low Level Wind Shear Alert System, while WSWS stands for Wind Shear Warning System. Both are systems used to detect and warn pilots of wind shear conditions near airports, but they have some differences in their design and operation.
LLWAS measures average surface wind speed and direction using a network of remote sensor stations, situated near runways and along approach or departure corridors at an airport. It compares the results over its operating area to determine whether calm, steady winds, wind shifts (in relation to runways), wind gusts, divergent winds, sustained divergent winds (indicative of shear), or strong and sustained divergent winds (indicative of microbursts) are observed. It provides visual and audio alerts to ATC so that they can pass on information and warnings about wind shear and microbursts to pilots and other aerodrome services.
WSWS is a system that uses anemometers mounted on the ground or on aircraft to measure the wind speed and direction at a specific location. It compares the measurements from different locations to identify areas of high or low wind shear. It provides numerical data to ATC or other users who can use it to monitor the wind conditions around the airport. It does not provide alerts or warnings by itself, but it can be integrated with other systems such as LLWAS or weather radar.
Top Business Light Jets Equipped to Tackle Windshear Challenges
Business light jets are small aircraft that can operate in a variety of weather conditions, including windshear. Some examples of business light jets that are good at windshear conditions are:
- Cessna Citation CJ4: CJ4 has a windshear detection and guidance system that alerts the pilots of potential windshear and provides escape maneuvers. It also has a wing anti-ice system that prevents ice accumulation on the wings, which can reduce lift and increase drag.
- Embraer Phenom 300E: Phenom 300E has a fly-by-wire system that enhances flight control and reduces pilot workload. It also has a synthetic vision system that displays a 3D image of the terrain and obstacles on the flight deck, which can help the pilots avoid windshear and other hazards.
- Pilatus PC-24: PC-24 has a dual autopilot system that can perform automatic takeoff and landing in low-visibility conditions. It also has a weather radar system that can detect windshear and turbulence and display them on the cockpit screens.
- Bombardier Global 7500: Global 7500 equipped with a high-speed fly-by-wire system enabling pilots to control the aircraft at speeds up to Mach 0.925. It boasts a weather radar system capable of detecting windshear and turbulence, projecting real-time data on cockpit screens.
- Dassault Falcon 8X: Falcon 8X featuring a fly-by-wire system augmenting flight control while minimizing pilot workload. Additionally, its synthetic vision system showcases a 3D representation of terrain and obstacles on the flight deck, aiding pilots in avoiding windshear and other potential hazards.
- Gulfstream G650: G650 enhanced by a fly-by-wire system optimizing flight performance and safety. Its weather radar system can identify windshear and turbulence, presenting detailed information on the cockpit screens.
Reporting Emergencies or Expected Windshear Events
Ground operators are responsible for monitoring the wind conditions around the airport and issuing alerts or warnings to pilots in case of expected or actual windshear events. They use various instruments and systems to detect and measure the wind shear, such as anemometers, wind shear warning systems (WSWS), or low level wind shear alert systems (LLWAS). They also communicate with pilots through radio or other means to provide them with relevant information and guidance on how to avoid or escape from windshear. Some of the actions that ground operators should take or report in case of an emergency or expected windshear event are:
- Notify the air traffic control (ATC) of the situation and request priority clearance for landing or takeoff.
- Advise the pilots to check their flight plan and route for any potential areas of high risk.
- Provide them with updated information on the wind shear location, intensity, duration, and direction.
- Recommend them to use appropriate procedures for avoiding or escaping from windshear, such as climbing above the layer, turning away from the source of wind shear, reducing speed and altitude gradually, applying maximum engine power if possible.
- Monitor their progress and readiness for landing or takeoff.
- Coordinate with other ground services (such as fire trucks, rescue teams) in case of an emergency landing.
In the intricate world of aviation, ground handlers are pivotal in mitigating the risks associated with windshear. By mastering the technical intricacies of microscale windshear phenomena, employing advanced detection technologies, and embracing proactive operational considerations, ground handlers play a crucial role in ensuring safe and efficient aviation operations.
For a dependable and proficient flight support provider in windshear conditions, choose Just Aviation. Their seamless and efficient handling covers all your flight operation needs. Whether for domestic or international flights, their expertise and expansive network ensure adept handling of any challenge or requirement. Contact them today at [email protected] to your aviation needs.