Clear-air turbulence represents a significant safety hazard as well as passenger-comfort issue for the commercial airline industry. The proposed MADCAT system has application not only for turbulence-warning and gust alleviation, but also as an air data solution that eliminates many problems with current pitot air data and other speed-sensing technologies. This capability also makes MADCAT extremely attractive for military aircraft, including fixed and rotary wing, high altitude and high dynamic, manned and unmanned, and even high-altitude airships. Information on winds near aircraft, if downlinked and compiled, will also be of significant value to forecasters, especially from aircraft flying over areas (oceans, etc.) where balloon radiosonde releases and other wind measurements are sparse or non-existent. NOAA and NASA identify the lack of more comprehensive wind-profile data as a major unmet data need for improving the accuracy of weather forecasts. Inadequate atmospheric data (wind speed, direction, temperature and density) also has a significant negative impact along the entire wind energy value chain, including site assessment, operational farms, turbine control, and grid integration. Turbulence and shear are primary contributing factors to higher than expected turbine maintenance and repair costs. Finally, military applications for artillery and munitions delivery, precision airdrop, and aircraft take-off/landing on ships can benefit from MADCAT technology.
MADCAT will allow NASA aircraft the benefit of having a clear-air turbulence warning system and an optical air data system in one package, suitable for general use by NASA aircraft as well as for flight research concerning clear-air turbulence and scientific studies of atmospheric processes. Ground-based uses include measuring wind speed and direction simultaneously with air temperature and density while also detecting and characterizing shear and turbulence. Potential uses include wind shear detection for space launches, wake vortices detection and characterization for airports, and climate change studies.