Vaisala, recently announced that it has been awarded a three-year contract by American Airlines to supply lightning alerts, using its Vaisala AviCast Lightning Alert System. The technology will be deployed at 26 maintenance locations and 25 regional airport locations at which American Airlines conducts flight operations. Fifty of these sites are in the continental U.S. and one site is in Puerto Rico.
Thunderstorms and lightning are dangerous during take-offs and landings, they pose a danger for ground crews, and cause delays for airlines. According to the FAA, weather is the largest cause of delay in the National Airspace System, accounting for 70% of all delays. The delays are dependent on the geographical area and vary throughout the year, but during the spring and summer months (April through September), the FAA reports that most of the delays affecting airport arrivals (over 40%) are due to convective weather (rain, thunderstorms).
“Thunderstorms impact nearly every airport around the world, and lightning strikes from thunderstorms are a dangerous threat to aviation operations, said Nick Demetriades, Head of Airports business at Vaisala. “Having the ability to warn airport operations before safety is compromised is critical to maintaining efficient operations and ensuring a safe work environment.” Efficient operations means that delays are kept to a minimum, which benefits the airlines, airport, and air travelers.
Acting on Reliable Data
The Vaisala AviCast® Lightning Alert System is able to detect total lightning, which is comprised of cloud lightning and cloud to ground lightning. Once lightning is detected, the system sends alerts, warning about the dangerous conditions. Alerts are shown visually in the AviCast software, and sent by text and email to supervisors monitoring the system. In addition, lights and sirens are activated on the airfield to make ground crews aware of the threat so that they can move to safety.
Since 2005, Vaisala has been helping American Airlines stay ahead of lightning and thunderstorms, providing lightning sensors, data, and alerts that keep ground-crews safe and make informed operational decisions during severe weather.