Aircraft observations of wind and temperature are very important for upper air meteorology. In this article, the quality of the meteorological information of an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) message is assessed. The ADS-C messages broadcast by the aircraft are received at air traffic control centres for surveillance and airline control centres for general aircraft and dispatch management. A comparison is performed against a global numerical prediction (NWP) model and wind and temperature observations derived from Enhanced Surveillance (EHS) air-traffic control radar which interrogates all aircraft in selective mode (Mode-S EHS). Almost 16 000 ADS-C reports with meteorological information were compiled from the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) database. The length of the data set is 76 consecutive days and started on 1 January 2011. The wind and temperature observations are of good quality when compared to the global NWP forecast fields from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Comparison of ADS-C wind and temperature observations against Mode-S EHS derived observations in the vicinity of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol shows that the wind observations are of similar quality and the temperature observations of ADS-C are of better quality than those from Mode-S EHS. However, the current ADS-C data set has a lower vertical resolution than Mode-S EHS. High vertical resolution can be achieved by requesting more ADS-C when aircraft are ascending or descending, but could result in increased data communication costs.
NB: Third author is my son – not me (GPK)