Etihad Airways and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have signed a research agreement to develop a fog prediction and monitoring system to enhance passenger experience and serve the needs of the aviation sector.
Signed during the UAE's Innovation Week 2015, the system will provide Etihad with accurate fog formation and dispersion forecasts around Abu Dhabi International Airport, in addition to satellite-based tools for fog detection and tracking, a statement said.
Abu Dhabi experiences frequent outbreaks of dense fog, especially between October/November and March/April during which visibility drops significantly.
During such outbreaks, 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 mitigate any adverse impact, the statement added.
Chris Youlten, Etihad's senior vice president, Network Operations, 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.
"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. 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, added: "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."
He said the project outcome will have far-reaching benefits for the aviation sector. At present, unforecasted outbreaks of dense fog creates challenges such as flight delays, flight diversions, personnel disruptions, and traveller disturbance.
These result in wasted resources and additional costs to the airlines and passengers, and puts strain on the airport infrastructure.
In January, Etihad said it was to review its policies on the length of time aircraft can remain on the ground, with passengers aboard, while waiting for a take-off slot as operations were affected by fog.
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