Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, yesterday signed a research agreement to develop a fog prediction and monitoring system which will contribute to the airline's objective of enhancing its air traffic management system.
Signed on the first day of the UAE's Innovation Week 2015, the system will provide Etihad Airways' Operations with accurate fog formation and dispersion forecasts around Abu Dhabi International Airport, in addition to satellite-based tools for fog detection and tracking.
The agreement was signed by Chris Youlten, Etihad Airways' Senior Vice President, Network Operations, and Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost, Masdar Institute, in the presence of officials from both the partners.
Mr Youlten said, "This is a very exciting partnership for a number of reasons. As Etihad Airways grows, so does the need for it to develop more sophisticated operational control practices to maintain its world-class reputation. The research and development work being done at the Masdar Institute offers Etihad Airways the unique opportunity to work closely with the scientific community in developing an innovative solution tailored to meet our operational needs.
"Following on from the very challenging fog season of winter 2014/15, we made a firm commitment to take our contingency planning to another level that supported the growth of our airline and the airport. We pride ourselves of being one step ahead of the game, but we needed assistance in developing a more scientific approach to our readiness for fog. 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.
"For this reason we engaged with the Masdar Institute scientists to collaborate with our Operations team to help us with fog detection and monitoring. Everyone will benefit from this innovative project including our guests, our principle partner, Abu Dhabi Airports, and the whole airport community," he added.
Dr. Steve Griffiths, Vice-President for Research, Masdar Institute, said, "The Masdar Institute agreement with Etihad Airways demonstrates our region-relevant scientific research capabilities that can benefit various stakeholder organisations. This project aims to detect fog formation well in advance and help the aviation sector mitigate the adverse impacts of bad weather conditions. We believe the outcome of this research project will benefit not only the industry but the community as a whole."
Called "Towards achieving a fog-ready air traffic management system for Etihad Airways: Numerical forecast and satellite detection", the research project will be led by Dr. Marouane Temimi, Associate Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering and Head of the Coastal and Environmental Remote Sensing and Modelling Laboratory. Master's and PhD students may contribute to the project at a later stage.
Abu Dhabi experiences frequent outbreaks of dense fog, especially between October/November and March/April, during which visibility drops significantly.