Estimate of economic impact of atmospheric radiation storm associated with solar energetic particle events on aircraft operations

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A solar energetic particle (SEP) event generates a shower of secondary generated particles in the Earth’s atmosphere down to lower altitudes to cause an atmospheric radiation storm (ARS). The high-energy secondary particles cause additional radiation dose at altitudes where aircraft flies. The space weather information provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) designated space weather centers includes advisories on the solar radiation storm. The Warning System for AVIation Exposure to Solar energetic particle (WASAVIES), we can estimate the effective dose rate (EDR) along the flight path of the aircraft. However, it has not been well established how the operators of aircraft should react with the space weather advisories on the solar radiation storm. By using a flight trajectory generation algorithm and the global EDR distribution, the economic impacts of ARS associated with SEP events on aircraft operation, namely the flight path length, flight time, and fuel consumption, are estimated. The conditions of the peak of the ARS event on 20 January 2005 are used. The economic impacts for a flight route from New York, US to Tokyo, Japan, are estimated with constraints in flight routes to avoid the hazard of radiation and compared with those of the reference case without the ARS effects. The fuel consumption is shown to increase by 39–69 tons (33–58%) for a twin-engine, wide-body jet passenger aircraft, when a constraint is imposed on the flight altitude only. When the constraints are set on the aircraft altitude and the latitude, the flight time and the fuel consumption are both increased by 2.2–2.8 h (17–20%) and 32–48 tons (27–41%), respectively. If the ARS event duration is limited for 3 h, the increase in the fuel consumption is about 7.6–14 tons (6.4–12%). This economic impact may be reduced, if the space weather nowcast and forecast for the ARS and an optimal flight trajectory generation algorithm are used together. Setting more flexible constraints on the flight route and generating optimal flight trajectories with minimal economic impacts by fully utilizing the global EDR distribution is the next step.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].




Saito, S., Wickramasinghe, N. K., Sato, T., & Shiota, D. (2021). Estimate of economic impact of atmospheric radiation storm associated with solar energetic particle events on aircraft operations. Earth, Planets and Space, 73(1).

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