Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Atmospheric alert system launched

Atmospheric alert system launched

A prototype atmospheric alert system for severe weather events for the Maltese Islands and the Central Mediterranean area has been set up by the Physical Oceanography Unit (PO-Unit) of the International Ocean Institute-Malta Operational Centre (IOI-MOC) at the University of Malta.

The system makes extensive use of satellite observations, the optimization of high resolution meteorological forecasting models, the combined use of wave models for forecasting hazardous sea conditions, and also the use of meteo-marine observations targeting to provide useful information in key areas to the end-users.

The web interface developed for the alerting system is mainly dedicated to furnish early warnings at sea and allows remote users to view predicted alerts of extreme weather and sea conditions within nine sub-areas within the Central Mediterranean

The service is part of a project called Weather Risk Reduction in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean (RISKMED) and is partly financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg III Community Initiative, which forms part of the Structural Funds Programme for Malta (2004-2006). The project is led by the Greek University of Ioannina, and brings together a consortium of eight partners from Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Malta with interests and expertise in the subject.

The work was coordinated by Dr Aldo Drago, Director of the research institute. Through a dedicated website, this system provides alerts to end users well in advance of any extreme weather event, giving responsible authorities the opportunity for timely response and mitigation.


Satellite Should Drastically Improve Forecasting

Imagine being able to know not just what the weather will do tomorrow but next week, and with a great degree of certainty. Engineers at Lockheed Martin say they are building a new satellite that will make that possible.

The company landed a $1 billion NASA contract to build a new version of a satellite called Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series, known as GOES-R.

It is based on the same technology that generates satellite imagery used in forecasting by CBS4. The difference is pinpoint accuracy, and it could help save lives and crops.

Engineers at Lockheed Martin say the satellite will have the first lightning mapper -- an instrument that can help predict severe weather.

Warnings for tornados could come hours earlier and for hurricanes they could come days in advance. Meteorologists will be able to tell exactly where the severe weather will hit.

"So we'll be able to see when storm changing course and moving against the way we modeled - much more data six times quicker," Lockheed Martin project manager Amy Flanagan said.

Engineers will begin designing the satellite within the next few weeks. It is scheduled to launch in 2015, and will be used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lockheed Martin plans to hire more than 100 people in Denver in upcoming years to work on the project.

More Information From Lockheed Martin

The company released the following details about the project on Tuesday:

Lockheed Martin's GOES-R solution builds upon the renowned A2100 geosynchronous spacecraft bus and proven precision imaging capabilities from previous remote sensing programs. The A2100 satellite fleet currently consists of 36 satellites and has achieved an accumulated 200 years of successful in-orbit operations.

"Our team is ready to move forward to design and field this important national system," said Jim Crocker, vice president of Sensing and Exploration Systems at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. "We look forward to continuing our ongoing relationship with NOAA and NASA including two previously awarded GOES-R instruments - the Solar Ultra-Violet Imager and the Geostationary Lightning Mapper."

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company has a long history of developing highly reliable civil and military weather and environmental satellite systems including Landsat, TIROS, Terra and DMSP.

The Lockheed Martin GOES-R program office will be located at its Space Systems Company facilities in Newtown, Pa.

While substantial engineering and production effort will be conducted in Newtown, the program will also leverage Space Systems Company capabilities across the country including Denver, Colo. and Sunnyvale, Calif.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2007 sales of $41.9 billion.


Search and Rescue S-92(R) Helicopter Marks Anniversary of Introduction to U.K. SAR Market

STRATFORD, Conn., Dec 01, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ --
In its first year of use by the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency and under the operation of CHC Helicopter Corp., Sikorsky Aircraft's Search-and-Rescue (SAR)-configured S-92(R) helicopter logged 279 rescues and is operating at availability levels of more than 98 percent. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

United Technologies Corporation

CHC operates the SAR S-92 helicopters from two bases covering territory in the North Atlantic and the North Sea. In Stornoway, Western Isles, Scotland, the fleet has conducted 174 rescue missions, while missions flown out of Sumburgh, Shetland Isles, Scotland, have totaled 102 to date. Aircraft technical availability at Stornoway has been 98.35 percent; availability at Sumburgh, 100 percent, said Ian McLuskie, UK SAR Business Unit Leader, CHC Search and Rescue.

"The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has seen a 20 percent increase in rescue missions at its bases, which is attributed to the increase in speed and capability that the S-92 helicopter offers," said McLuskie. "The aircraft's fully coupled automatic flight control system has been invaluable, and the large cabin and tail ramp also have been of great benefit, particularly when airlifting rescue teams."

Sikorsky initially developed the S-92 helicopter for over-water search and rescue in demanding and challenging environments such as the North Sea and North Atlantic, where the MCA is in service.

"Sikorsky has a successful history of search and rescue. The CHC-operated MCA missions are adding to that legacy," said Marc Poland, Sikorsky Vice President, Commercial Programs. "The S-92 helicopter fleet today has logged more than 120,000 flight hours and in doing so, has shown itself to be a safe, extremely reliable and cost-efficient platform."

The SAR aircraft have conducted rescues from mountains, cliffs, and vessels, rescued divers in difficulty, and extracted complete crews from stricken vessels. One such incident in February this year led to the rescue of 14 fishermen from the vessel Spinningdale, which had run aground at St. Kilda. That rescue, conducted amid gusting 70-knot winds as the vessel sat stranded on rocky, cliff-facing terrain, brought the crew recognition for its bravery and professionalism as it was awarded the Great Scot of the Year Award.

The S-92 is the first helicopter in the world certified to the latest U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and European airworthiness safety standards. The S-92 features a Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS), which allows the aircraft to operate in known icing conditions. RIPS has been certified by both North American and European aviation authorities and is available on S-92 military variants as well as commercial aircraft. EASA certification was issued in April for an IAFS equipped aircraft, which is currently in commercial operation.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., USA, is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. The company's mission statement reflects its long commitment to safety and innovation: "We pioneer flight solutions that bring people home everywhere ... every time(TM)." United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., USA, provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

SOURCE Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.