Wind velocity field estimation from aircraft derived data using Gaussian process regression

Marius Marinescu, Alberto Olivares, Ernesto Staffetti, Junzi Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Wind velocity field knowledge is crucial for the future air traffic management paradigm and is key in many applications, such as aircraft performance studies. This paper addresses the problem of spatio-temporal windc velocity field estimation. The north and east wind components within a given air space are estimated as a function of time. Both wind velocity field reconstruction in space for a past or present time instant and short-term prediction are performed. Wind data are obtained indirectly from the states of the aircraft broadcast by the Mode-S and ADS-B aircraft surveillance systems. The Gaussian process regression method, which is a flexible and universal estimator, is employed to solve both problems. Under general conditions, the method is statistically consistent, meaning that the method converges to the ground truth when increasingly more data are available, which is especially interesting, since aircraft data availability is expected to grow in the future through the deployment of the European System-Wide Information Management. Besides estimation, the Gaussian process regression method provides the probability distribution of any particular estimate, allowing confidence intervals to be computed. Moreover, the spatial modelling is performed using raw data without relying on grids and estimation can be performed at any spatio-temporal location. Furthermore, since the training phase of the method described in this paper is fast, requiring less than 5 minutes on a standard desktop computer, it can be used online to continuously track the state of the wind velocity field, thus allowing for data assimilation. In the case study presented in this paper, the Gaussian process regression method is tested on different days with different wind intensities. The available data set is split into several training and testing data sets, which are used to check the consistency of the results of wind velocity field reconstruction and prediction. Finally, the Gaussian process regression method is validated using the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts ERA5 meteorological reanalysis data. The obtained results show that Gaussian process regression can be used to reliably estimate the wind velocity field from aircraft derived data.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0276185
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10 October
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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