A fog prediction and monitoring system could soon be a reality for the aviation sector. Etihad Airways and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology recently signed a research agreement to develop the technology.

The system will provide the UAE’s national airline with accurate fog formation and dispersion forecasts around Abu Dhabi International Airport, in addition to satellite-based tools for fog detection and tracking, contributing to the airline’s objective of enhancing its air traffic management system.

Etihad Airways senior vice president (Network Operations) Chris Youlten said there’s a need for an innovative solution, following the “challenging fog season of winter 2014/15”.

“Meteorological forecasting allows for a proactive approach, but even when we are working to a time frame of fog, we can’t see it coming until it is in our midst,” he said.

Masdar Institute vice president (Research) Dr Steve Griffiths said the outcome of this research project will have far-reaching benefits for the aviation sector.

“This project aims to detect fog formation well in advance and help the aviation sector mitigate the adverse impacts of bad weather conditions,” he offered.

“Un-forecasted” outbreaks of dense fog creates challenges such as flight delays, flight diversions, personnel disruptions, and traveller disturbance.

Abu Dhabi experiences frequent occurrences of dense fog, especially between October/November and March/April, during which visibility drops significantly. During such times, operations at Abu Dhabi Airport may be significantly disrupted or even stopped completely. Such conditions make it critical for airlines to have an accurate fog management support system that provides operators with the efficient tools to plan properly and alleviate any adverse impact. – Chester Chin