Pilots get new tool to avoid bumpy flights

Alaska Airlines flight landing at the Juneau Airport. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A new tool for an Alaska airport is intended to avoid, or at least limit, rocky landings and takeoffs.

The system alerts pilots to pockets of turbulence and highlights corridors of smoother air at the Juneau airport.

The airport, which is set among mountains, with a channel and glacier nearby, is known for its wind shears and white-knuckle landings. Officials say it is currently the only U.S. airport to have the federally sanctioned turbulence-detection technology, known as the Juneau Airport Wind System, or JAWS.

Though the system was formally commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration this summer, a prototype developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research has been operating for more than a decade, providing wind information for the carrier and, more recently, alerts.

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