Airlines are losing money because they fail to use weather information properly to route aircraft to avoid turbulence and to predict icing risk. So says the UK Met Office, which has launched a push to convince more carriers to plan their operations around detailed weather forecasts.
Will Owen, commercial aviation manager of the Exeter-based meteorological service, is asking all UK airlines to "understand where their business is vulnerable to weather". He says carriers often do not use weather predictions to optimise their fleet use. "There's a lot more we can offer the industry and we're trying to get that message out."
Owen cites a common example of wasted resources: during winter, an airline's ground-handling agent will often heat de-icing fluid daily as a precaution. Once heated three times, unused fluid must be thrown out. "But if the airline was able to tell the agent when to heat the fluid, it saves money," he says.
At the end of this year, the Met Office will offer airlines a service that will predict the likelihood of icing and turbulence every 20km (11nm) in airspace above FL250 (25,000ft/ 7,600m) in Europe and much of the North Atlantic. This would allow airline operations departments, air navigation service providers and pilots to divert aircraft around the areas of highest risk, says Owen.
MURDO MORRISON / EXETER
Source: Flight International