Weather Gathering Service Expands

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Next time you get bounced into the headliner on a short-haul flight you can take some comfort that you might be helping other aircraft avoid that weather. After an initial trial of Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) with Mesaba Airlines, AirDat LLC has attached weather sensors to aircraft toiling for regional carriers in all areas of the continental U.S., providing real-time, real-world meteorological data through satellite transmissions. AirDat CEO Jay Ladd said in a news release that the rich stream of data from airliners-turned-weather-stations is improving forecasting accuracy and allowing the airlines to adjust routing and scheduling on the fly to minimize weather delays.

By next year, more than 400 aircraft working in every corner of the country will have the sensors attached. The sensors send data to AirDat headquarters via Iridium satellites. Built-in GPSs provide position and altitude simultaneously. Ladd says the regional airliners make the perfect platform. "They make shorter, more frequent trips and operate at altitudes below 30,000 feet, filling in an important gap in weather observations," said Ladd. "Their frequent ascents and descents provide a high frequency of soundings from diverse geographic locations."