Europe’s ATC launches worsening weather study

Several major European air traffic control agencies are studying how best to manage the impact of an apparent worsening of continental weather systems.

The six air navigation service providers within the FABEC functional airspace block include Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland and together manage some of the busiest and most complex airspace in the world.

They have invited the MET Alliance consortium of European meteorological service providers to investigate the possible effects of changes in weather behaviour on air traffic management and more generally the impact of adverse weather conditions on ATM.

MET Alliance is a grouping of eight MET service providers in Europe including six FABEC member states (Belgocontrol, DWD, KNMI, Météo-France, MeteoLux, MeteoSwiss + Austrocontrol, Met Eireann) that together work to improve safety, quality and efficiency of meteorological intelligence.

In 2016, FABEC members said air traffic delays caused by weather doubled and that among the various causes for delays, adverse weather ranked second after capacity. “In 2016, adverse weather led to distinctly more delays than, for example, industrial action or implementation of new systems at FABEC level,” they said.

FABEC members whose combined airspace covers 1.7 million sq km handle around 5.5 million flights per year – 55 per cent of European air traffic.

Following severe local thunderstorms witnessed in the spring of 2016, which led to massive delays and cancellations of flights, the FABEC members decided that they needed to gather factual data on weather phenomena affecting air navigation services, especially with regard to predicted trends to better anticipate future developments. The results are expected to be available in May 2017.

Maurice Georges, chief executive of DSNA and chairman of the FABEC board said: “The influence of the weather on aviation and, thus, on passengers’ wellbeing has significantly increased. The study will help us to identify adequate measures both in operations and in the related regulations to improve our service further.”


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