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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A low-cost system for measuring horizontal winds from single-engine aircraft

  • Author(s): Conley, SA
  • Faloona, IC
  • Lenschow, DH
  • Karion, A
  • Sweeney, C
  • et al.

The implementation and accuracy of a low-rate (~1 Hz) horizontal wind measurement system is described for a fixed-wing aircraft without modification to the airframe. The system is based on a global positioning system (GPS) compass that provides aircraft heading and a ground-referenced velocity, which, when subtracted from the standard true airspeed, provides estimates of the horizontal wind velocity. A series of tests was performed flying "L"-shaped patterns above the boundary layer, where the winds were assumed to be horizontally homogeneous over the area bounded by the flight (approximately 25km2). Four headings were flown at each altitude at a constant airspeed. Scaling corrections for both heading and airspeed were found by minimizing the variance in the 1-s wind measurements; an upper limit to the error was then computed by calculating the variance of the corrected wind measurements on each of the four headings. A typical uncertainty found in this manner tends to be less than 0.2ms-1. The measurement system described herein is inexpensive and relatively easy to implement on single-engine aircraft. © 2014 American Meteorological Society.

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