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Meteorological Doppler radar, heretofore a tool for research, can now be considered for operational applications. One important application is to provide data for air traffic controllers to identify weather that may be hazardous to aircraft in terminal areas. Its use at large commercial airports may be justified both by safety and by savings in fuel and operating costs that should result from more precise definitions of hazardous atmospheric conditions. Five measurement tasks are proposed for an airport Doppler radar. The first two, measurement of radar reflectivity in precipitation systems, and measurement of the vertical profile of horizontal winds, have been shown to be ready for operational implementation. Preliminary evidence shows that two others, identification of shear or turbulence in thunderstorms, and identification of wind shear hazards along approach paths, can provide warning of dangerous wind, but work remains to tie the radar measurements to aircraft hazards. The last suggested use, identification and tracking of wake vortex turbulence, has not yet been demonstrated. An airport Doppler radar can certainly provide some data that will increase flight safety; if it proves capable of all the above, it would be in demand.
Date of Publication: Oct. 1979