The International Air Transport Association (Iata) – the representative body of the global airline industry – and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) have signed an agreement to expand automated meteorological data reporting by commercial aircraft. Currently, some 40 airlines and several thousand airliners and freighter aircraft participate in the WMO’s Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (Amdar) system.
Amdar provides the WMO with coverage of areas where there are few other meteorological data sources. The new Iata/WMO agreement is expected to significantly increase the number of airlines participating in the programme.
“One of the many unfortunate aspects of the Covid-19 crisis has been the severe loss – of up to 90% – of aircraft-derived meteorological data as a result of the steep decline in airline operations and passenger flights since March 2020,” highlighted WMO secretary-general Professor Petteri Taalas. “Meteorological services and other data providers have tried to offset this loss, but there has been a measurable negative impact on the accuracy of weather forecasts as a result of Amdar data reductions.”
Under normal conditions, Amdar provides more than 800 000 daily and high-quality observations of wind direction and speed, and of air temperature, coupled with the times and positions that the observations were made. The system has also been increasingly monitoring humidity and turbulence in the atmosphere. This data is transferred to meteorological services and fed into their computerised weather forecast systems, which in turn help develop weather forecasting and other services for aviation.
“Safety is aviation’s highest priority and ensuring airlines and other safety stakeholders have access to the most comprehensive and reliable weather forecast data is vital to achieving this,” stressed Iata director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “It is important that in rebuilding and re-establishing their operations, airlines are able to take advantage of all available cost and operational efficiencies. One such efficiency can be derived from the enhanced use of better-quality weather forecasts and other meteorological information that results from the improved availability of Amdar data.”
In terms of the new agreement, the WMO and its member organisations will set up regionally-based operational frameworks to receive and process the data from the airliners. Iata will encourage greater airline participation in the programme and will help support the development of technical weather data transmission systems that will protect the airlines’ ownership of that data.