It is well known that inclement weather is the single biggest factor causing air traffic delays in the U.S. What is less well understood is what share in this overall adverse impact belongs to weather forecast accuracy. While several en-route convective forecast analyses have been conducted, the role of terminal/surface weather forecast accuracy has not been sufficiently well quantified. The objective of this research is therefore to estimate avoidable delays and costs that can be attributed to terminal weather forecast accuracy. We initially focus on arrival delays and cancellations. The well-established Weather-Impacted Traffic Index (WITI) metric based on actual weather is used as a delay proxy alongside its counterpart, WITI-FA (“Forecast Accuracy”) metric based on forecast weather. A nomenclature of various relationships between actual and model-estimated arrival rates is built and arrival rate deficit (difference between scheduled and actually achieved rates) attributable to terminal weather forecast accuracy is computed for each case. This allows us to estimate the avoidable portion of arrival delays and cancellations due to terminal weather forecast inaccuracy, both overall and by specific weather factor. We show that our model is reasonably realistic and apply it to estimating the benefit pool for improving terminal forecast accuracy for OEP35 airports. Total benefits are shown to be at least $330M per year for arrival delays due to terminal weather forecast inaccuracy alone.
Keywords: airport capacity, avoidable delay, benefit pool, weather forecast accuracy
/ Other authors:
Robert S. Lee