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<b>NWS Nextgen FAQs</b>

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is NextGen?

A: Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a multi-agency initiative to transform the navigation air space system and meet the demands of the 21st century. NextGen is a collaborative effort between federal agencies and industry partners working together to transform capabilities including: weather assimilated into decision-making, aircraft trajectory based operations, network-enabled information access, layered adaptive security, performance based services, navigation and timing, super density operations, and equivalent visual operations. The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) is responsible for facilitating NextGen activities.

Q: What is NextGen Weather?

A: NextGen Weather is the initiative to assimilate weather data information from the NOAA NextGen Weather 4-D Data Cube into the decision making process. The 4-D Data Cube will be populated with information from weather products, forecasting services, and other weather information inputs. The National Weather Service (NWS) is leading this effort.

Q: What is the 4-D Data Cube?

A:The 4-D Data Cube is a net-centric, virtual, data repository of weather data and information. It is a source for forecasters, traffic controllers, or air management personnel to retrieve weather information. The weather and forecast information will be continuously updated, including aviation impact parameters. The 4-D Data Cube is also known as the NOAA NextGen Weather 4-D Data Cube.

Q. Who is building the 4-D Data Cube?

A:Currently NOAA and the FAA are leading a collaborative effort, including industry and research community participation, to build the initial 4-D Data Cube infrastructure.

NOAA and the FAA are sponsoring laboratory work aimed at developing and evaluating data-exchange technologies in an experimental mode.  Within NOAA, the NWS Office of Science and Technology is in the early stages of transitioning these laboratory-developed capabilities toward operations.  Meanwhile, NOAA data and service provider organizations have begun evaluating the lab-developed data exchange technologies in their environments.  When eventually operational, these data exchange capabilities will, in effect, tie together an array of NOAA aviation-weather data/service repositories.

Q: What is the difference between the 4-D Data Cube and the 4-D Weather Single Authoritative Source (SAS)?

A: The 4-D Weather SAS is a subset and also the core component of the 4-D Data Cube. The 4-D Weather SAS provides a single answer with weather information that are consistent in time, space, and weather elements for any aviation weather parameter to support the Air Navigation Service Provider’s (ANSP) NextGen Air Traffic Management (ATM) decisions.

Q: Who is funding the effort to build and populate the cube?

A: Congress has appropriated FY10 funding to the National Weather Service (or NOAA's NWS, if you prefer) to develop 4-D Data Cube capabilities.  The FY11 President's Budget includes additional funding to begin deployment of the cube for 2013 deployment, and to begin R&D of follow on capabilities.  In addition, FAA has been appropriated funding to enable it's systems and infrastructure to access information in the 4-D Data Cube.  NOAA and FAA are working closely together to ensure compatibility and connectivity between our systems.

Q: When will the 4-D Data Cube be operational?  

A: The 4-D Data Cube infrastructure and "plumbing" will have it's Initial Operational Capability in 2013. This means, the basis for data standards and data flow into the 4-D Data Cube will be available. Between 2013 and 2016 research and development will be in full swing. By 2016, improved modeling and science will enable higher resolution and more accurate information to flow into the 4-D Data Cube. Full Operational Capability for NOAA's NextGen is 2022. By this time, all NextGen requirements will be met and benefits achieved, including, full network connectivity ensuring consistent information across service areas and user groups.

Q: What is a System?

A: A system is an assembly of interdependent components configured to achieve a desired result.

Q: What is a System of Systems?

A: An integrated family of independent processes (systems) producing both independent and interdependent results, providing benefits and results greater together than separately.

Q: What is Net-Enabled?

A: Net-Enabled or “Network Enabled” refers to using Net-centric capability. Meaning continuously evolving technological solutions using commonly available and equally evolving data communications networks to achieve maximum benefit while remaining flexible for continued and anticipated growth.

Q: Will NextGen Weather and the 4-D Data Cube impact the weather needs for the General Aviation (GA) Community

A: We believe the weather requirements from NextGen will improve the quality of observations, analyses, and forecasts for the GA community (and the aviation community as a whole) and the access to this data via the 4-D Data Cube. That being said, the NWS will continue to produce ALL FAA required weather products and services the GA community depends on.

Q: How will NextGen affect aviation forecasts of the future?

A: NextGen is driving many new requirements and is leading the way for all services. NextGen drivers include, high resolution models, consistency of all products, decision assistance tools for aviation users, and quicker response to customer needs. Aviation forecasts of the future will include improved convective forecasts, greater temporal resolution and refresh updates in digital services. We need a holistic solution to address the forecast process, since it's bigger than just aviation, although NextGen requirements are the initial impetus. Forecast process changes are essential to meet NextGen goals.

Q: How is the private sector involved in the NextGen effort?

A: The Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO) Weather Working Group (WG) provides an opportunity for private sector representation and involvement. Those interested in participating with the Weather WG are encouraged to visit the NextGen Institute for additional information.

Private vendor weather data will be included in the 4-D Data Cube if accessed by Air Traffic Management (ATM). The overarching governance model, soon to be developed by the JPDO Net-Centric Division and Weather WG, will define how private industry data is accessed and protected.

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