China's civil aviation authorities are always keen to improve the punctuality of airlines, especially when passengers' fury sometimes erupts over delays caused by inaccurate weather forecasts.
The latest solution is an advanced radar that designers say will substantially boost airport managers' capability to accurately forecast and handle weather conditions.
Beijing Daxing International Airport, the capital's new air hub, will be China's first airport to use the solid-state, dual polarization millimeter wave radar. The system was developed by researchers at the Beijing Institute of Radio Measurement, part of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp Second Academy.
The equipment is capable of highly accurate observations of clouds, fog, snow and rain within a radius of 60 kilometers from the airport. It will enable the airport to know more details about cloud conditions, the institute said in a statement.
Zhou Tingting, chief designer of the radar, explained that clouds are one of the major factors that affect airport operations. Radar equipment currently in use at domestic airports is mainly based on laser or optical methods to detect and analyze cloud conditions.
"Laser and optical devices are not able to penetrate clouds and thus are incapable of letting us know more about the cloud, such as its moisture content and layers. So airport operators often have to postpone flights based on inaccurate forecasts," he said. "Our millimeter wave radar, by contrast, can look deep into a cloud, measure its speed and display a much larger scanning range. All of these advantages will allow the user to establish a three-dimensional cloud map and know clearly whether flights will be affected in advance."
Before being deployed at the airport, the new radar system had been used by meteorological bureaus and port authorities, Zhou said.
Located at the junction of Beijing's Daxing district and Langfang, a city in neighboring Hebei province, Beijing Daxing International Airport is scheduled for completion on June 30 and is set to open on Sept 30. It is tasked with meeting the country's rapidly rising demand for air travel and mitigating the flight pressure at Beijing Capital International Airport, which has been running at full capacity for years. More than 50 airlines around the world have shown interest in operating flights at the new airport.