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what direction do microburst move?
are microbursts so dangerous for aircraft?
special training do airplane pilots now get?
are intense, sometimes even violent, yet highly localized
downward and outward
bursts of wind at relatively low atmospheric levels.
Microburst research is a relatively new area of atmospheric research,
but NSF's involvement, as well as that of researchers and other agencies,
has already saved lives. The effect of microbursts on aircraft is potentially
the strong, quick bursts or drafts of wind can severely alter the course
of an airliner, especially on landing or takeoff.
Deadly bursts of air
Microbursts have been identified as either the cause or the likely cause
of some particularly deadly accidents: New York's LaGuardia Airport in
1975 and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 1985. It is estimated
that approximately 650 lives have been lost in the U.S.A. alone in 20
airline accidents attributed to microbursts.
NSF has funded Project NIMROD at the University of Chicago and Project
CINDE in Denver, which have led to better understanding of how microbursts
occur. NSF-sponsored research in universities and at the National Center
for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) resulted in the scientific knowledge that
led to practical means for identifying microbursts.
NSF's and NCAR's work helped to convince the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) to institute a worldwide training program, requiring all pilots
to obtain microburst
wind shear training twice a year, both in courses and in simulators.