Aeronautical Engineering Dissertation

Survival in the Atmosphere: The Rise of the Aeronautical Meteorology and its Revolutionary
Role in Aviation
A Research Project Proposal
Submitted to the Worldwide Campus
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
of Course ASCI 490, The Aeronautical Science Capstone Course
for the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics Degree
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
January 2015
The field of aviation is a major customer of meteorological services. Numerous historical break-
through developments that have been marked in weather forecast have majorly been for the sole
enhancement of meteorological assistance to aviation (Evans, 2015). A rapid advancement of
aircraft designs and the technology of air travel coupled with the incessant need for ever more
safe and efficient air traffic operations led to a proportional requirement for an accurate and
safety-centered meteorological services and products. These developments have been in humble
leaps, from the ancient pre-flight face to face briefing to more technical lightening- detection
networks and weather radars that promote forecasting of short-term movements of thunderstorms
(Fujita & McCarthy, 1990). Thus, mitigating the adverse disruption of airline operations. This
paper, therefore, investigates the development of aeronautical meteorology and how it assures a
higher survival ratio in the atmosphere during powered flights.
The dissertation on a general note seeks to illustrate a new methodology for
contemplation of the role played by science in the mechanized and technologically advanced
aspects of our society. In the case study particularly how aeronautic meteorology has impacted
the aviation industry. A close review of the history of aeronautic meteorology reveals how very
influential and powerful material effects can be manufactured through an integration of robust
systems of technology, with all-encompassing but small noticeable surveillance system of the
environment. The paper mainly investigates and exhibits how ancient few groupings of
determined, unheard experts, synchronizing and harmonizing the activities of the commercial
firms, government bureaus, and academic departments revolutionized aeronautical meteorology
from a mere curiosity science into a compelling body of knowledge. The body plays vital for the
managing of the operations of airlines in aviation hence promoting survival rates in the air during
powered flights.
It is in the early 20
century that this dissertation has its bedrock of history; as the period
when aeronautic meteorology underwent significant uplifts. In fact, meteorology became vital in
the management of the global affairs long even before the world discovered it. However, to the
sunset of the 20
century; the atmospheric science developed in portions on the know-how of
customary dealings of aeronautic meteorology to manufacture theories of climate change that
have become a bone of contention culturally. It has ultimately rendered it a dominant subject of
critical dialogues. At the beginning of the century, the principles of aeronautic meteorology
operated under the disguise of habitual forecasting and measurement of weather that facilitated
aviation which was environmentally delicate to continue in their operations. The early 20
century was a period of surviving and withstanding heights.
As the enhancement of the aeronautic engineering made the upper space more graciously
accessible, experts of weather unearthed novel types of meteorological circumstances at altitude.
For instance, clouds that became frozen as soon as they landed on the aircraft wings and slender
and thin bands of 200 miles per hour winds that became frozen as soon as they landed on the
aircraft wings. Even the maneuvers that appeared to be easy as just taking a flight through a
stretch of unbroken cloud proved to be disastrous; numerous pilots died of the causes which were
psychological. For example, “death spiral” were discovered.
The flight industry had become more organized than ever. They regularly turned to
meteorologists for counsel and guidance regarding training, so that they could cope with the
hazards of space. In few years, the aeronautic engineering, especially in aviation, had solely
displaced shipping and agriculture to be the primary client and most powerful user of the
knowledge of meteorology. Interests in aeronautic meteorology were surging from all spheres of
society. The Science Advisory Board did many types of research around the globe and on top of
the hierarchy was meteorology in nexus with air travel. It ultimately transformed the general
perceptions and notions of the public on this subject and undeniably changed the manner in
which society interacted with the weather.
An elaborate knowledge of the contemporary science of the atmosphere needs the
tracking of past historical previews of aeronautic meteorology. Since the first hot air balloon
flights in the year 1978; it is conceivable that aeronautics and aerology have been connected
from the commencing of the human powered flights. Although the hot air balloons were widely
used in collecting samples of air to be used in the weather forecast, their persistent use in
justified meteorology research in aviation (Ellrod & Knapp, 1992). The enhancement of guided,
powered flights at the commencement of the 20
century both lighter than air ship like dirigibles
of Count Zeppelin and heavier than aircraft like the Flyer Wright started to alter this relationship.
The manufacture of powered flights revolutionized meteorology from a minute research
interest inside a scattered science into the nucleus of aeronautic engineering. One factor that
fueled this paradigm shift was the Great War. Among many weapons and ballistics of war, to
undo the enemy aviation intelligence and the capacity to launch attacks from the air proved to be
crucial. However, as the United States realized in its war against Japan, the unpredictable nature
of the weather in the upper atmosphere rendered this weaponry unproductive (Friedman, 1990).
Essentially, to counter this weakness, nations began to invest massively in aeronautic
They quickly employed services of meteorologists in the front lines of war zones and
started training more others. America had to respond or be in danger of being left out and down
in the superiority wars (Gary, 2007). At first, the States had only a few groupings of unheard
municipal weather forecasters and almost no researcher in the meteorological department. But as
the trend emerged, the United States trained more and more young meteorologists and mobilized
them in the army to handle aviation operations.
Historical Background of the Renaissance of Aeronautical Meteorology
In the United States, the research in meteorology was limited since meteorology was a
function under the oversight of the Weather Bureau that in turn fell under the purview of the
agricultural department (Meyer, 2000). The headquarters of the Weather Bureau was located in
Washington DC, and it had acknowledged that they were responsible for informing the public of
the expected meteorological conditions. However, it was customary that their core responsibility
was to offer forecasts that are centered on agriculture. It was propelled by the ideology that it
was an agency of the government. Therefore, results had to be practical and immediate. The rest
of the two were very minute “weather services” that were managed and operated by the
department of war and the department of the navy (Gary, 2007). They, however, were tailored to
provide specifically specialized weather predictions for navy and army units.
All their research was aimed at improving the operational capacities of the military. As
stated in the introduction, the military use of aeronautic services was a dramatic increase in the
era of the great war. Due to the critical role played by meteorology in maintaining the cabin crew
and airplanes safe; the Weather Bureau was given a budget of up to 100,000 US dollars, to
establish aeronautic stations and synchronize services with the navy and war department once the
United States went to war (Nebeker, 1995). It was the genesis of “flying weather forecasts” for
the postal mails and the military in the year 1918. Even after the era of the post-war, and after the
increase in funding for the weather bureau, the Bureau did not make any remarkable progress in
intensifying its services. Unlike the governments in Europe that were working incredibly hard to
establish meteorological services and civil airways that offered support to them.
The condition was best remarked by one secretary Brook Charles of the American
Meteorological Society (AMS). He once commented that the Belgians became very “astonished”
on learning that the yearly budget of the Weather Bureau was just only 2 million US dollars
(Kristine, 2008). Volunteer or paid, the personnel of the Weather Bureau was devoted to
providing the finest possible forecast of weather to a wide assortment of commercial, agricultural
and industrial interests. The early 1920’s saw the Weather Bureau’s regional offices come up
with written forecasts and weather maps for the public and distributed them to main outlets of the
media. Therefore, municipal stations in the locality had the capacity to predict and give prior
warnings to hazardous conditions of the weather to up to 20-mile radius.
Institutionalization of Aeronautical Meteorology
The meteorologists of the airspace soon after the first power flight was launched made
efforts to go and discover friendly skies. Ideally, this was the period of the early 1930’s. Their
efforts were hinged in two major inventions. Firstly, there was the rampant surveillance of the
upper air and the customized practice of the knowledge acquired to transcode the data collected
from such monitoring into significant statements on the behavior of the atmosphere; therefore
connecting the research with the management of flights (Knowles, 1969). For the smooth
coordination of these tasks, each was delegated. The Weather Bureau was tasked with
surveillance of the upper air which became a vital facet of the ever growing influence of the
Bureau in the aviation industry (Gary, 2007). Rapid technology innovations in the theory of
meteorology significantly guided the progress of this surveillance network. Not only did they
offer guidance but also did give substantial data that provided fodder for new forecasting and
In the United States, around 1870 to 1920; the Weather Bureau was the undisputed most
fundamental institution of aviation meteorology (Kristine, 2008). Scholars such as Carl Gusstaf
Rossby tried all their means to develop an approach where the Bureau utilized the theoretical
framework to come up with viable forecasts. However, it was clear that this area could not be a
monopoly. There was a sharp increase in the number of academic researchers who were
interested in developing theories about the upper air. Their research revealed the important
epistemological, educational and social gaps that existed in this field of study by the very
academia that was inhabited in the Weather Bureau.
The above prompted the pioneers of the theories to reinvent the bureau and rebrand it to
be a ‘modern’ scientific entity. Theorists advocated for the hiring of technocrats that possessed
graduate degrees and were of exceptional academic merit and that such men to be appointed to
the leading role in the operation of the Bureau. However, the real situation was that the young
meteorologists rarely found rewards. On the contrary, they were tasked to give tuition classes to
the senior meteorologists of vast many years’ experiences in the novel technical methods
(Meyer, 2000). Arguably, this they did with barely any incentive to them.
It is important to note that the Bureau indeed had a well-developed institution
characterized by a culture that was distinct from the prioritizing of abstract and research theory.
That was a central feature of the crop of academic meteorologists that mushroomed around the
school of Bergen emigrants. A new era was dawning. A group of self-styled engineers from the
new institutions of higher learning specifically the meteorology program of the Department of
aeronautic engineering flocked the Bureau. The program was piloted both at the MIT and the
American Meteorology Society.
Rossby once again was at the center of driving the objective transition of these
institutions towards the achievement of remarkable excellence in the capacities of theoretical
research. As a professor in the MIT program, he solely oversaw the shift and transformation of
the program, from just what it was; a mere program to an advanced scientific research institute.
In 1919, the American Meteorology Society was founded to provide a platform where the well-
taught graduates would exercise their knowledge (Friedman, 1990). As years passed by, the
society became increasingly formal, professionally organized and around 1925 it even offered a
parallel although not independent institutional services of the Weather Bureau. Moreover, many
of its human capital were also ladies and gentlemen of the Bureau. Through the motivation of
Rossby, the AMS commenced offering platforms where issues of enhancement and improving
the meteorology theory, at the same time it even in its journals gave a section for the publication
of research. Mainly done independently of the monthly journal of the Bureau.
The professor, Mr. Rossby was not done, he urged the AMS to form an award to
distinguish and appreciate young researchers who were making a massive pioneering selfless
contribution into the arena of aeronautic meteorology. To fully come to the understanding of
how meteorology was infused into the industry of powered flights, it is paramount that we
manage to familiarize ourselves with the institutions these developments bankrolled on. It is vital
also to establish and explore the institutional culture that offered the serene environment for the
fruitful advancement of the aviation meteorology. Therefore, this chapter labors to show how the
enhancement of theories by the influential academic scholars reshaped the manner in which
weather was predicted, conceptualized and observed. In the United States, that had an impact in
the aviation industry setting.
The Reformation of the Weather Bureau for Aviation
Rossby’s most significant contribution to the aeronautics engineering arena was the
campaign to shift the practices of the Bureau to being more institutionally centered and
motivated (Meyer, 2000). He, therefore, coined a new area where meteorology was no longer an
ancillary and subordinate afterthought for aviation operations but now an infrastructural science
well integrated into to the aeronautical engineering what is today acknowledged as the aeronautic
meteorology. As Rossby worked at the MIT, interests in flying and in specific the appetite and
the absolute need to stay safe and survive in the atmosphere all pointed to the need for improving
the services of forecasting offered by the Weather aviation industry. Reformations quickly
sprung up. The values of the Bergen School of thought values were embraced and constantly
adhered to. By 1926, Rossby had rejoined the Bureau at this time as the chief assistant director or
research. Under his watch, he oversaw the implementation of the Air Commerce Act of 1926.
The Act obligated the Weather Bureau to give weather warnings and forecasts that would be
crucial in aiding the pilots from unforeseeable air weather hazards.
The above sole development was one of a single step that ultimately shaped the whole
history of aeronautic meteorology. Things were never the same again. Powered flights grew in
abnormal proportions since the risks of crashing had been significantly reduced, at least not
because of weather clichés. Due to the increased number of flights, and an equally increased
need for safer flights, it is safe to say that the Weather Bureau in the late 1920s was indeed
overwhelmed. Their capacity could not contain this growing industry. From time to time they
struggled to give sufficient weather forecasts and observations for the airways of the nation. As
though this was not enough, in the year 1929, there was an economic crisis that adversely dented
almost crippling this Bureau. Its budget, for instance, was slashed down by forty-five percent
(Gary, 2007).
Independent of these catastrophic cutbacks, the Bureau was subjected to the novel,
humiliating disasters. On the 4
date of April 1933, the Navy powered flight USS Akron was
involved in a crash. All those on board, 73, died including Mr. Adams Moffet William, who at
that time was the head of Navy’s Bureau (Friedman, 1990). The hearings of Congress that
followed this incident acted as a postmortem of the Weather Bureau. It revealed the
shortcomings of the Bureau, and its inadequacies ranging from credibility issues. The future of
the Bureau looked grim, doomed and non-existing. At the height of highlighting the challenges
faced by this field of public science, Charles Mitchell, one of the most adored and celebrated
forecasters battled senators who called for the disbandment of the Bureau.
During the hearings, one advocate Mr. Billy Mitchell posited that the services of aviation
meteorology ought to be removed from the department of government that was responsible for
growing of potatoes, onions and such things and on the contrary, the military ought to run this
operation (Kristine, 2008). Arguably, this was a taste of the mockery the Bureau was subject.
The hearing proposed and established a sub-committee to come to proper recommendations to
improve the standards of aeronautical meteorology in the country. The committee was swift to
recommend an adoption of “air mass analysis methods.” The committee clearly stated while
advocating this approach that it would practically guarantee unprecedented improvements in
both the reliability and accuracy of the forecasting services.
Since this method called for an upper air data analysis, the committee recommended that
the navy and army were to provide daily measurements of aerology during their systemic
training flights. The committee report commended the Bureau’s novel research developments in
the analysis of air mass and even proposed for doubling of their efforts in this regard (Gary,
2007). Finally, the committee recommended the initiation of a system that would train
postgraduates on aeronautics that would later be taken to serve the Bureau. Essentially, this was
important to ensure that all meteorologists were well-versed in the modern scientific methods
and that they had a world class appreciation of physics and mathematical concepts that would
ooze proficiency in the forecasting art.
During the period since the Wright brothers launched the first powered flight,
meteorology had to develop rapidly its art to match the needs of aeronautics engineering needs
for a safer aviation industry. Carl Rossby pioneered these efforts. Through his work at the MIT,
Weather Bureau and his colleagues and students developed meteorology as a research discipline
and an academic subject that could aid infrastructural science such as the science of aeronautic.
Maintenance of Schedule: Aeronautical Meteorology in the US Airline Operations
In the late 1930s, powered flights were a nerve-wrenching experience. Even the relatively
small aircraft that had piston engines and that flew in the low altitudes subjected their passengers
to vibrations, turbulence, and such noise that the fact that you were a mere passenger; that alone
drained you physically (Knowles, 1969). Taking flights was seen to be so grueling and
demanding that one Senator Franklin Roosevelt claimed that he had been physically challenged
when he was airlifted to Chicago to attend an acceptance ceremony for the nominations of the
Democratic party.
The flight from Albany to Chicago faced significant turbulence and robust headwinds,
delaying their flight in the air for over two and half hours. All the passengers and even the crew
on board developed nausea and vomited. However how much Senator Roosevelt tried Tom
convince the newspaper that he had found the flight interesting; he never took any powered flight
for the next decade (Meyer, 2000). Historians of weather became increasingly concerned.
William Meyers was the first to calculate and arrived at, that weather hazards lead to cancellation
of close to twenty percent of all scheduled air trips (Dutton, 1970). The aviation industry now
faced devaluation due to its high unreliability of its services that outdid its greatest asset, speed.
The National Air Transport’s manager of operations, Mr. Wesley Smith, once said that
“The chief danger and the grandest obstacle to the normal operating of powered flights on the
schedule are the weather” his assertions were not rhetoric (Ellrod & Knapp, 1992, p. 54). He had
on first hand experienced and barely survived the dangers posed by low clouds, ice, fog, and
thunderstorms. In December 1920 while trying to dodge fogy airspace he hit into the crest of a
hill. Miraculously he crawled out of the burning wreckage alive and kicked.
Through the hazards of the weather the entire commerce of the airwaves was under a
serious viability crisis. It was because of the inability to come up with cures of weather hazards
had reduced flights into treacherous ventures and their scheduled bar high unpredictable and
undependable. As the world war waged on, it became clearer that the knowledge to cope with the
weather was a vital thread in the tailoring of the civil aviation industry from just an entertainment
sport into infrastructure (Gary, 2007). Whenever the weather circumstances were untenable,
barnstormers would make impromptu landings in fields.
However, with the advent of commercial planes, the need to distribute safe, dependable
and unswerving services between terminals on a pre- fixed schedule would not allow such
landings. As the prominent scholar Mr. Courtwright David Remarked, aviation had become an
infrastructure; “a taken for granted, commonly utilized means of the system of transportation” in
two stages (Kristine, 2008). The first of the stage was the growing reliability and safety that
happened between the late 1930s and 1940s. The other stage was, becoming ubiquitous and
cheap that took place after the advent of economy class travel and jets in the early 1960s and
Aeronautic engineers and historians have identified numerous primary factors that aided
to dependable powered flight. Chief amongst those factors, they highlight stronger airframes,
strict regulations from the government, systems of navigation and improved new genres of
instruments of flight. However they; to some extent don’t pay homage or give meteorology the
deserved attention on the role it played, commonly regarding weather as a type of unmanageable,
inevitable force. Implicit in these development theories is the description of escape. That as new
inventions of powerful planes set in, powered flights made an escape from the gravity of
weather, that weather was no longer a threat and therefore, could not constrict the operations of
the aircraft. To that fact, they cite that fewer crashes are caused by weather nowadays that it was
in the 1920s. Truth be told, it was more than just great planes that led to all this.
This chapter investigates how meteorology aided aircraft to reconsider weather, not as a
monster obstacle that was required to be done away with but an always varying set of
circumstances that sometimes made the air travel more efficient and sometimes acted as a
constraint to air transport operations. It is the assertion of this paper that the knowledge of
meteorology allowed the airline to become flexible entities that could utilize the benefit of cloud
breaks and tailwinds while diminishing the hazards of icing, fogged airports, and headwinds. The
airlines had contracted the services of weather experts to offer services needed to make the
flights reliable and safe. Airline meteorologists that were trained at Caltech, MIT and some few
number of flight schools were few and by July 1940, they were less than 94 in the United States.
The Impact Early Meteorologists had in Aeronautic Engineering
These early meteorologists played a vital role in the growth and development of
aeronautic engineering especially in the field of air travel. For instance, they judged the weather
conditions, describing the present and potential imminent weather conditions to pilots (Gary,
2007). They also gave advice on how management and routing of flights to the dispatchers. They
were involved in spreading of the advanced knowledge of meteorology to pilots, engineers and
other human personnel crew and flight attendants. It led to the better understanding of this
personnel on adverse weather conditions. Although they were limited to the roles of specialists in
technical weather duties, the aeronautic engineers internally emerged as the core daily operators.
On a day to day basis, flight companies used their experts in meteorology to advertise their
planes as a modern, efficient and safe mode of transport.
The needs of meteorology in aviation had also led up to the shaping of a culture of
research about the aeronautic. Commencing with the early pioneers, like Carl- Gustaf Rossby’s
achievements while working at the airline of Western Air Express in 1927 aided the launch of
numerous leading careers of many American researchers (Friedman, 1990). The increasing
interaction between the industrial Aeronautics of the aviation industry and the academic clichés
had an impact in that; the airlines were amongst the pioneering American, who used the Bergen
School, with its prominence on models of geography and calculations of numerical in forecasting
of the weather.
The Legal Framework of the Aeronautic Meteorology
The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 invalidated the Civil Aeronautics Administration and
created the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Lowenfeld, 1972). In supplementing, the
Act moved the power to legislate regulations of aviation from the Civil Aeronautics Board to the
FAA. This Act accords the FAA singular and exclusive obligation for the nation's civil-military
system of air traffic control and air navigation. Currently, the aeronautics guidelines are
recognized as the FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations).
The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 was a legislation of congress that formed the agency of
the federal aviation. (Subsequently; referred to as the; Federal Aviation Administration or the
FAA Agency). It set aside the Civil Aeronautics Administration that was its predecessor. The
Act gave authority to the FAA to manage and make regulations that would ensure a guaranteed
safety era in the industry of aviation, and synchronizing a coherent use of the airspace by both
the military and civilian commercial powered flight (Kreindler, 1994).
Aviation in the United States was not regulated by the legislation of the Air Commerce
Act in 1926. The Act generated an Aeronautic Branch inside the United States Department of
Trade with supervisory authority over civil aviation. In full recognition of the vital nexus
between meteorology and aviation, Congress approved the legislation of the Air Commerce Act
(Dutton, 1970). The above law obligated the Weather Bureau to issue weather forecasts, reports,
and potential warnings to advance the efficiency and safety of aviation in the United States.
However, since this phenomenon was in its incubation stage, the ancient forecasters had limited
knowledge of weather intrigues that influenced flight namely, clouds, fog, icing, turbulence and
thunderstorms (Lowenfeld, 1972).
In the case of accidents and plane crashes due to weather conditions, Title 49 Subtitle II
chapter 11 subchapter II § 1114 of the United States Code outlines all the legal information
regarding Disclosure, availability, and use of information (Kreindler, 1994). This code states the
recordings and imagery obtained is and will not be released till the investigation is complete.
Also, it discusses the use of trade secrets and how they will be handled. Trade secrets are
information or data the other people outside of the organization can see to include processes and
uses of said data.
In general terms, the growth and development of the aviation industry coupled with a
corresponding upward growth in meteorology use by the airlines, in particular, aided the setting
up of the first academic department of aeronautic meteorology in the US. For instance, the most
popular textbook of the time was Byer Horace’s Synoptic and Aeronautic Meteorology. It acted
as the course guide for lecturers who taught the airliner human resource before turning out to be
a normative handbook. That offered structures of the way meteorologists studied the concepts of
imagining the atmosphere and its behavior during training (Knowles, 1969).
The economic support and a culture of the prestige of the meteorological industry,
therefore, aided to influence and inform the rapid development of Aeronautic Meteorology in
America, during the 20
century into a worldwide reputable and famous discipline of research
anchored around three dimensions of models of physics of the atmosphere.
Beating the Weather odds; Present Day Airlines
If you regularly fly at one point, you could have had an experience where half an hour
before a flight is set to depart, a plane pulls into the gate as passengers begin streaming at the
area designated for waiting (Meyer, 2000). Later on, just before takeoff, you are informed that
the airport has been closed down due to reasons of inclement weather, for example, a snowstorm.
That is why; a retired senior manager of services of weather for the American Airlines Mr.
Qualley Warren once remarked that “a flight of an airplane is like a grand puzzle.” “With
numerous pieces on the move; that is of course not forgetting the cabin and flight crews” (Meyer,
Other factors that may accompany storm’s effect are ice or heavy snow. The above will
prevent the personnel manning the airport from going to work. Even though the unfavorable
weather conditions may not lead to a complete shutdown of the airport; indeed the diminished
and poor visibility of the atmosphere caused by foggy elements will ultimately slow down the
number of flights that can take off or land per hour. Mr. Warren Qualley terms this as “due to
unfavorable weather conditions; we face flight delays or cancellations. Thus different pieces of
the puzzle have a chance of ending up at a wrong airstrip or airport.” The crew of the flight
ambushed in Providence is the perfect illustration of this.
Over the years, there has been a paradigm shift of aeronautic meteorology from the
prediction of the weather along routes and at the airports to aiding the airlines in getting solutions
to the complex puzzles of bad weather that face them (Gary, 2007). In the history of air travel the
American airline was the first to cancel flights due to unfavorable weather conditions. They
realized was less costly and that quickly after Normandy resumed, the airline was able to recoup
and blow back the lost profits.
In the present modern setting, it’s a customary routine that the meteorologists would
furnish meteorological odds to airlines that managers of the airline may utilize to calculate the
finest estimate of the cost of the various decisions at stake (Kristine, 2008). The airline’s flight
crew is the major meteorologist’s clients. However, more people rely on and depend on their
services like for example those who are tasked with notification of passengers of flights that are
canceled and the whole rebooking process.
Cancellations and delays are costly for both airlines and passengers. For instance, Larsen
Tulinda, the president of an aeronautic firm specialized in the analysis of operation; masFlight
reckons that for the winter of 2014-2015 all the way to the 5
of March 2015, her corporation
made calculations that airlines in the States terminated 75,000 flights due to meteorological
conditions that affected up to 6.2 million passengers. MasFlight makes estimations that the cost
was a total of $380 million for the airlines and an estimated $6 billion for the affected
passengers. These costs include expenses such as taxis, meals, bookings of hotels that add up to a
quarter of the passengers’ expenses. Lost productivity calculates the other three-quarters of the
passengers' costs.
At around 1978, the forecasters of airlines used to issue weather predictions for each and
every airport the American flights were destined for and also an alternate landing destination
(Friedman, 1990). However, today, pilots and airlines often depend on the foreign weather
services or the NWS on out of the United States flights to provide the weather forecasts of the
airport they intend to land and the meteorological conditions along the way. In the daily
management of flight operations, aeronautic meteorology aids the airline companies to save on
fuel to a large extent by demarcating the finest routes to take to avoid obstacles to smooth air
travel. Obsatcles like headwinds and the jet stream winds moving at 100mph at a height above
sea level of close to 20,000 feet (Vespignani, 2009). Conversely, the aeronautic meteorologists
aid the airlines to save on time by informing the cabin crew on the places they can hold up a ride
on jet stream breezes wafting in the bearing they want to go.
Miller Mark, the General Manager and Vice President of Decision Support at WSI, that
deals with weather operations for numerous airlines, remarks that “during the times when a
grand weather incident like the tornado or the main storm during winter is potentially threatening
one of our airline’s major hub, it usually has an intense bearing, on the whole, aviation system”
(Kristine, 2008). For instance, for the WSI they commence the issuance of outlooks of the
potential perils of the five days period. As the time narrows to a span of 48 hours, the airlines are
now in their estimation required to consider decisions about having the flights canceled.
Larsen explains that masFlight estimates that the cost of abandoning a flight of
international status is close up to 40,000 US dollars. Abandoning mainland municipal flights add
up to 6,000 US dollars, and that of national airlines flight may total up to 1,050 dollars (Benét,
2014). As Curtis Rick, the Chief Aeronautic Meteorologist at Southwest Airline reckons “Crews
and dispatchers are anxious about individual flights” (Benét, 2014). Therefore, our duty is to
ensure that air travels in these airlines are running as effectively and efficiently as needed.
It is done through the persistent value addition from the statistical point of view. Qualley
Warren in making a summary of the functions of Aeronautic meteorologists; he reckons that “it
is about the creation of exemplary services and products that focus on specific clients, in this
instance the field of commerce aviation” (Benét, 2014). For operation managers, pilots, airport
personnel, senior management, reservation managers and dispatchers the last thing they want to
hear is an imminent weather calamity about to rock an airplane. They want to know, where, how
bad, when and what.”
Today’s Aeronautic Meteorological Centers
In the present day, the questions of whether to make a flight or which flight route to take
are inquiries that planners of air traffic and pilots make constantly and persistently thought the
day to day operations. With the help of aeronautic meteorology, numbers of commercial flights
that have crisscrossed the space have hit a record high. And it’s no surprise that the industry of
aviation is predicting the numbers to surge up even further.
NOAA’S National Weather Service’s utilizes an amalgamation of skilled meteorologists
and the state of art technology to create forecasts of weather in aviation for United States flights
and air traffic all over the world (Meyer, 2000). In each Nation Weather Services office, there
exists a team of the aeronautic meteorological forecast. Each team consists of about 120
municipal offices of weather forecasts; Alaska Aviation Weather Unit and the Aviation Weather
Centre in Kansas City (Meyer, 2000). The AWC gives notices of cautions that cover the entire
United States and encompass the vast quota of the North Atlantic and North Pacific airspace
below 13.7 km. That is about forty-five thousand feet. The AWC also offers weather prediction
to aircraft users internationally for airspace that is above 7.6 km around the world.
The AAWU in Anchorage does weather forecasting over Bearing Sea, North Pacific
OCEAN, Arctic Ocean and Alaska, also covering a big part of Russia’s northeast. In Central
Pacific, Weather Forecast Hawaii, Honolulu provides meteorological warnings. The officers and
staff members of Weather Forecast offer approximately 4,000 meteorological forecasts in a span
of 24 hours (Kristine, 2008). Its 122 branch offices provide five hundred and fifty-seven airports
with up to two thousand five hundred aeronautic meteorological forecasts and almost one
thousand three hundred in flight forecasts each single day. In coupled efforts, both the AAWU
and the AWC provide 275 meteorological products on a day to day basis.
The AWC slights give more than 8000 products of a graphic nature for icing,
thunderstorm, and turbulence. They are then utilized by the aeronautic industry especially the
airlines to compliment basic aviation weather forecasts. The National Weather Service also
control about twenty-one (CWSU) that is Center Wealth Service Unit at the administration of the
Federal Aviation (FAA) space flight course management across the United States. NOAA
weather forecast officers at CWSUs personally offer directions to air supervisors about nasty
unfavorable weather conditions as they unfold.
National Weather Service weather forecasters utilize satellite images circling the world.
Real-time meteorological data from Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) units, live
feed meteorological data from Doppler radar and prototype arithmetical data from NOAA’s
Centers for prediction of the environment at airports in America to produce weather products of
aviation (Gary, 2007). Another fundamental role played by the ASOS is that it generates updates
about relevant information about weather in spans of a minute. The information provided ranges
from, the speed of the wind, precipitation and cloud heights. This information is accessible to
cabin and flight crews at all specific times. Other systems have also been developed by the
Nation Weather Service to draw up and enhance communication and forecasting about weather
that may affect aviation. Some of these tools include:
The Collaborative Convective Forecast Product
The Collaborative Convective Forecast Product (CCFP) utilizes amalgamation of
software that permits weather forecasters from the CWSU, Canada, AWC, and the commercial
airlines to deliberate thunderstorm predictions in an Internet dialog room, delivering viewpoints
every two hours (Kristine, 2008). The drive of the CCFP is to aid air transportation executives
diminish weather-related flight interruptions and cancellations and advance airline fuel
It is undeniable fact that practices of aeronautic engineering have become influential, and
weather forecasting has camped in the echelons of the airports. Due to this development, there
has been a change in the knowledge that enables us to make the operation of our aeronautic
products like airplanes and jets safer in the atmosphere. This science mostly affects the very
fundamental safety of our lives during air travel. It even maintains and builds our environment.
Tracing the rise and modification of the science of aeronautic meteorology while at the same
time improve its applications in aviation to keep us safe and surviving in space during travel is
the ultimate task for all historians of technology, engineering, meteorology and all citizens of
Benét, W. (2014, October 30). masFlight Dissects Flight Cancellations and Customer
Disruption. Retrieved from Airways News:
Dutton, J. (1970). Effects of turbulence on aeronautical systems Progress in Aerospace Sciences.
Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science, 11, 67-109.
Ellrod, G., & Knapp, D. (1992). An objective clear-air turbulence forecasting technique:
Verification and operational use. Weather and Forecasting, 150-165.
Friedman, R. (1990). Appropriating the Weather: Vilhelm Bjerknes and the Construction of a
Modern. New York: Cornell University Press.
Gary, A. F. (2007). Authors of the Storm: Meteorologists and the Culture of Prediction. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Knowles, M. (1969). Invention of the meteorological instruments. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
Kreindler, L. (1994). Aviation Accident Law. New York: M. Bender.
Kristine, H. (2008). Weather by the Numbers: The Genesis of Modern Meteorology. New York:
MIT Press.
Lowenfeld, A. (1972). Aviation law; cases and materials (Vol. 2). California: M. Bender.
Meyer, W. (2000). Americans and Their Weather. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nebeker, F. (1995). Calculating the Weather: Meteorology in the 20th Century. San Diego:
Academic Press.
Vespignani, A. (2009). Predicting the behavior of techno-social systems. Science, 325(5939),
Survival in the Atmosphere: The Rise of the Aeronautical Meteorology and its Revolutionary
Role in Aviation
A Research Project Proposal
Submitted to the Worldwide Campus
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
of Course ASCI 490, The Aeronautical Science Capstone Course
for the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics Degree
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
January 2015
The field of aviation is a major customer of meteorological services. Numerous historical break-
through developments that have been marked in weather forecast have majorly been for the sole
enhancement of meteorological assistance to aviation (Evans, 2015). A rapid advancement of
aircraft designs and the technology of air travel coupled with the incessant need for ever more
safe and efficient air traffic operations led to a proportional requirement for an accurate and
safety-centered meteorological services and products. These developments have been in humble
leaps, from the ancient pre-flight face to face briefing to more technical lightening- detection
networks and weather radars that promote forecasting of short-term movements of thunderstorms
(Fujita & McCarthy, 1990). Thus, mitigating the adverse disruption of airline operations. This
paper, therefore, investigates the development of aeronautical meteorology and how it assures a
higher survival ratio in the atmosphere during powered flights.
Survival in the Atmosphere: The Rise of the Aeronautical Meteorology and its Revolutionary
Role in Aviation
Statement of the Project
The fundamental purpose of this paper is to ascertain how aeronautical meteorology has
been crucial in ensuring that aviation becomes a reliable transport system with reduced risks. The
student will apply the skills cultured his study to finish this project while exhibiting mastery of
the 11 project outcomes required to complete the Bachelors of Science in Aeronautics Degree
program from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU).
The brief expedition by Wright brothers in 1903 into the air of powered flight, within a
decade, led to the institutionalization of meteorology as a principal aspect of aviation.
Aeronautical Meteorology went through an era of landmark developments in the year 1918. For
the first time, the Weather Bureau commenced issuance of weather forecasts, weather periodicals
and weather bulletins for national military powered flights (Bromley, 1977).Later on December
1, 1918, the Weather Bureau gave out its pioneering aviation weather forecast for a flight route
from New York to Chicago. In full recognition of the vital nexus between meteorology and
aviation, Congress approved the legislation of the Air Commerce Act (Dutton, 1970).
The above legislation obligated the Weather Bureau to issue weather forecasts, reports,
and potential warnings to advance the efficiency and safety of aviation in the United States.
However, since this phenomenon was in its incubation stage, the ancient forecasters had limited
knowledge of weather intrigues that influenced flight namely, clouds, fog, icing, turbulence and
thunderstorms. In 1939, radiosondes took over from the observatory nature of the Weather
Bureau forecasts. Two years later an entirely compassed weather radar system was established
that were customized for ground meteorological utilization (WatsonWatt, 1951).
Subsequently, the early 20
century was largely taunted as an era of weathering heights.
An astute expansion and rapid development of powered flight rendered the free air of economic
and military utility. Meteorologists faced novel brands of weather circumstances at altitude.
Pilots endeavored to battle for survival in the air that provided for surprising hazards like fog,
squall lines, and icing. Such encounters have led to the timely evolution of aeronautical
meteorology, a body of information that offers a course of action for routing flights and a
procedure for integrating upper air observations into forecast tailored for pilots (Gottdiener,
Today, aviation has become a crucial constituent of transportation communication
system and as such, aeronautical meteorology has facilitated it to function almost perfectly. This
paper seeks to examine the historical precedent of collaborating meteorology in the field of
aviation. Given this historical viewpoint and an examination of the current FAA regime; the
project will ascertain the challenges this incorporation is facing and possible remedial that will
result in a safer air travel.
Program Outcomes Addressed
Critical Thinking
The student will show evidence of knowledge at a synthesis level to define and solve problems in
professional and personal environments (ERAU, 2015, pp. 12)
Critical thinking is the intellectually tightly controlled practice of actively and skillfully
applying, evaluating and analyzing of information to comprehend issues and guiding actions and
beliefs. This project will incorporate the skills of critical thinking in determining the extent of
which aeronautical meteorology has been integrated into aviation, its revolutionary role, and the
improvements that can be made to ensure an ultimate survival in the atmosphere. The student
will collect relevant information in assorted places to consist of commendations from aviation
magazines, FAA database and websites and National Transportation Safety Board.
Quantitative Reasoning
The student will show evidence of the use of digitally-enabled technology &analysis
techniques to interpret data for the purpose of drawing valid conclusions and solving associated
problems (ERAU, 2015, pp. 14)
Quantitative reasoning is the art of examining numerical data or binary information with
an ultimate aim of inferring logical deductions concerning a precise issue. The student will use
numeric quantitative data, of the ratio of weather-related accidents to the corresponding
increased application of aeronautical meteorology. In achieving this program outcome, the paper
will heavily rely on critical quantum data from the official website of the United States
Department of Transport.
Information Literacy
The student will show evidence of meaningful research, including gathering information
from primary and secondary sources and incorporating and documenting source material in
their writing (ERAU, 2015, pp. 15)
Information literacy is the collection of data from relevant and useful sources and
amalgamation of that material sources in one’s written or oral presentation. It involves
recognition of information when needed and then the capacity to evaluate, locate and utilize the
required information efficiently.In exhibiting this crucial skill, this paper will significantly
borrow information from circulars, journals, scholarly articles, course textbooks, reports on
accident investigations and their recommendations. Credible publications by the FAA flight
standards services and the National Weather Services (NWS) will be cited too. This project will
use a suitable approach showing information literacy that will be used to explore and analyze the
data retrieved. The paper will use various aviation textbooks also that have intensely
incorporated this method like Vespignani, A. (2009). Predicting the behavior of techno-social
systems. Science, 325(5939), 425. The information will mainly aid in analyzing and constantly
monitoring weather stations, warning of hazardous phenomena and forecast aeronautical
meteorological parameters and phenomena.
The student will show evidence of communicating concepts in written, digital and oral
forms to present technical and non-technical information (ERAU, 2015, pp. 16)
Communication is the art of conveying thoughts in verbal and written structures to impart
information to a particular audience. A variety of communication forms will be exhibited in
putting across information and drafting of issues in this entire project. The paper will sufficiently
employ the use of graphs, tables and pertinent typical features to improve the impression and
easy understanding of information data. Writing will be done in Microsoft Word, with a 6
edition APA formatting. The report for this capstone project will be written in Microsoft Word,
formatted using the APA Manual 6
edition. A PowerPoint presentation will also be used to
communicate the result orally and present the outcomes to the instructor and class of the course.
The report for this capstone project will be written in Microsoft Word, formatted using the APA
Manual 6
edition. A PowerPoint presentation will also be used to communicate the result
orally and present the outcomes to the instructor and class of the course.
Scientific Literacy
The student will show evidence of analyzing scientific evidence as it relates to the
physical world and its interrelationship with human values and interests(ERAU, 2015, pp. 18).
Scientific literacy is the competence to utilize scientific principles and methods to raw
data to enable one to solve a research question. This paper will keenly use this acquired skill in
decoding and interpretation of Operational Aeronautical Meteorological Data (OPMET). This
skill will also aid in explaining the connecting link of meteorological aerodrome reports
(METARS) and the working of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) operations staff. Where necessity
dictates, the seminal work will also give brief descriptive notes on the operation of sophisticated
scientific automatic weather observing equipment.The student will obtain this information from
technical manuals from the manufacturers of the equipment and their website. The project will
examine the physics of existing data recording systems ability to survive an aircraft accident to
understand how aeronautic meteorology and the data could survive such an accident
Cultural Literacy
The student will show evidence of the analysis of historical events, cultural artifacts,
and philosophical concepts(ERAU, 2015, pp. 18)
Cultural literacy is the know-how of the perspective and contribution of different cultures
throughout history essential for comprehension of literal works and on how similar events in
future may unfold. This project will critically analyze the historical precedent of meteorological
practices of meeting the requirements of air traffic administration to develop safety efficient and
safe air traffic. To ensure that this outcome strictly adheres, various reports such as the Groves,
F. H., & Pugh, A. F. (2004). College Student Performance on the Cultural Literacy Science
Assessment Instrument will be referred to, and its recommendation will inform the approach of
this study.
Lifelong Personal Growth
The student will show evidence of the skills needed to enrich the quality of life through
activities, which enhance and promote lifetime learning (ERAU, 2015, pp. 20).
Lifelong personal growth is the possession of the power to exhibit the competencies
expected to better the individual fulfillment through exercises that advance and upgrade learning.
The project will dwell in constantly ensuring that the research has a positive bearing on
individual growth. That it's intentional priority to culture discipline and consistent growth of the
lives of all parties, including pilots and meteorologist.
Aviation/Aerospace/Aeronautical Science
The student will show evidence of advanced concepts of aviation, aerospace, and aeronautics to
solve problems commonly found in their respective industries(ERAU, 2015, pp. 21)
It is the field of study that involves aircraft operations and their backup support systems.
The acquired skill will enable this paper to use the advanced concepts of aerospace and aviation
comparatively to show how they can respond to meteorological advancement, so as to ensure
simultaneous revolution and evolution of technological advancements that guarantee air safety
and, therefore, a higher survival rate in the atmosphere during powered flights.
Given this historical perspective, the project will determine what resistance might be
expected from flight crews and suggest how Part 121 carrier management can help flight crews
to accept the complete merging of aeronautic engineering and meteorology. Information will also
be gathered from articles on the introduction of voice recording systems as well as airline
carriers and the Federal Aviation Administration websites.
Aviation Legislation and Law
The student will show evidence of the fundamental concepts of national and international
legislation and law as they pertain to the aviation, aerospace, and aeronautics industries
(ERAU, 2015, pp. 22).
Aviation legislation and law is an understanding of the way municipal and international
laws and domestic legislations that relate to the aviation industry. The project will analyze the
federal regulations, policies, and laws that apply to the integration of aeronautic meteorology in
the aviation sector. It will also examine the various legal duties, liabilities that arise during these
interactions between the weather forecast and air travel. In order to effectively source all the
relevant statutes at once, the paper will use Lowenfeld, A. F. (1972). Aviation law; cases and
materials (Vol. 2). M. Bender and Kreindler, L. S. (1994). Aviation Accident Law (Vol. 2). M.
Aviation Safety
The student will show evidence of basic concepts in aviation safety as they pertain to the
aviation, aerospace, and aeronautics industry (ERAU, 2015, pp. 24)
Aviation security is the conception and exploitation of essential security principles that
are related to operations in aviation. The project will assess the past air traffic accidents that
could be directly attributed to a failure in meteorological inefficiency or also aviation reluctance
to take forecast data into consideration. Conversely, credible analyses from the NTSB website
and news articles and interviews of a reliable nature of these accidents will enable the paper to
reach its conclusions. The above area of safety is important in the driving of sophisticated
technological systems through the integration of theoretical knowledge with daily environmental
Aviation Management and Operations
The student will show evidence of sound, ethical, management principles within standard
aviation, aerospace, and aeronautics operations (ERAU, 2015, pp. 25)
Aviation management and operations is an understanding and use of organizational
management codes as they relate to operations in aviation. The duty of aviation management is
crucial concerning the fluency management of meteorological data and intelligence by the
aircraft attendants in assuring air safety before, during and after flights. Information will be
gathered from articles on the introduction of voice recording systems as well as airline carriers
and the Federal Aviation Administration websites.
Blair, W. (1928). Meteorology for Aviation. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society,
Bromley, E. (1977). Aeronautical Meteorology: Progress and Challenges-Today and Tomorrow.
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 58 (11), 1156-1160.
Dutton, J. (1970). Effects of turbulence on aeronautical systems Progress in Aerospace Sciences.
Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science, 11, 67-109.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (2015, January 19). College of Aeronautics. Retrieved
from Undergraduate Capstone Policy Guide:
Evans, O. (2015). Meteorology and Aviation. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science,
8, 115-116.
Fujita, T., & McCarthy, J. (1990). The application of weather radar to aviation meteorology .
American Meteorological Society , 657-681.
Gottdiener, M. (2001). Life in the air: surviving the new culture of air travel. Rowman &
Nilim, A., El Ghaoui, L., Duong, V., & Hansen, M. (2001, December). Trajectory-based air
traffic management (tb-atm) under weather uncertainty. In Proceedings of the 4th
USA/Europe air traffic management R&D seminar.s
WatsonWatt, R. (1951). Meteorology and Aviation. Quarterly Journal of the Royal
Meteorological Society, 77 (334), 552-568.

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