I’m very pleased to welcome you to this first issue of the WMO Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology (CAeM) Newsletter for 2017. A lot has happened since our inaugural newsletter was issued last September (here), so I’m extremely pleased to be able to bring the CAeM community up-to-date on some of the key developments.
In this newsletter you will find information on recent regional and global activities that have taken place, including the CAeM Management Group meeting held in Hall-in-Tirol, the ICAO Meteorology Panel meeting held in Montreal, sub-regional SIGMET coordination activities, and a WMO regional workshop on aviation meteorology for forecasters held in Doha.
This newsletter also provides you with an insight of the response to the recent CAeM global survey on aeronautical meteorological service provision – the most extensive survey that the CAeM has undertaken in a decade or so. The response has been tremendous, and I would like to express my deep appreciation to all those who took the time and effort to complete the survey. Of course, from a CAeM perspective, the hard work now begins to analyze the responses and to draw meaningful conclusions that we can use, collectively, to take the CAeM and the WMO Aeronautical Meteorology Programme (AeMP) forwards.
In addition, this edition provides readers with an insight into the latest developments relating to the IWXXM (ICAO meteorological information exchange model) schema as well as the first in what will be several “SWIM snapshots” offering an insight of SWIM (system-wide information management) at a conceptual and functional level. These are topics which many in the CAeM community are becoming increasingly aware of and, of course, understanding them and implementing them will be crucial for how meteorological information is integrated into the future globally interoperable, harmonized air traffic management system. So, we hope that these snapshots will help inform and promote awareness.
Looking ahead, this edition of the newsletter highlights some of the key events and milestones we can expect in 2017 including, not least, the planned convening of a WMO Aeronautical Meteorology Scientific Conference in November for which we hope to attract interest from the scientific research and development community as well as the aviation user community and industry. 2017 is sure to be a busy year and I, along with the rest of the CAeM Management Group, look forward to sharing with you the progress the CAeM is making and to receiving your support in taking the work forwards, together.
In November 2016, WMO launched a CAeM global survey with Members/NMHSs on aeronautical meteorological service provision. The comprehensive survey, developed by the CAeM Expert Team on Governance (ET-GOV), sought to gain a better understanding of the global landscape as well as the national and regional landscapes that exist in 2016 in terms of meteorological service capabilities and practices, institutional arrangements and business models. The findings of the survey will serve as inputs to on-going activities of the CAeM, including the development of updated guidance material for WMO Members based on identified good practices and a long-term plan for the WMO Aeronautical Meteorology Programme (AeMP).
By February 2017, 90% of WMO Members had responded to the survey (see graphic), which was a tremendous achievement and recognition of the importance that Members place in their applicable roles and responsibilities as aeronautical meteorological service providers.
ET-GOV is now undertaking a thorough review of the responses to the survey in order to establish meaningful findings and recommendations, both at a global level and at a regional level. Once this review has been completed, WMO intends to report its findings to the Executive Council, Regional Associations and concerned Technical Commissions as well as to other interested parties such as ICAO. In addition, the outcomes of the survey will be reported via the CAeM website.
ET-GOV as well as the entire CAeM Management Group wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to all those who took part in the survey.
Expert Team on Education, Training and Competency (ET-ETC) By Co-Chairs Chris Webster and Kathy-Ann Caesar
The ET-ETC is pleased to introduce its new co-chair as of January 2017, Kathy-Ann Caesar, who replaces Robert (Bob) Rutledge and will serve for the remainder of this intersessional period (until mid-2018). Kathy-Ann has been a core member of ET-ETC since 2015 and, prior to that, served as a consulting member to ET-ETC. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Kathy-Ann is currently the Acting Chief Meteorologist at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology in Barbados, which includes teaching at the University of the West Indies. She was a core member of the ET-ETC in the previous intersessional period and is a co-chair of the WMO Virtual Laboratory for Education and Training in Satellite Meteorology.
ET-ETC is also pleased to welcome Michael Graf from the United States, who will consequently join the team as a core member. Michael comes from the Aviation Branch of the National Weather Service and has a wealth of experience being the chair of the RA IV Task Team on Aviation Matters since 2009.
Expert Team on Information and Services for Aviation (ET-ISA) By Co-Chairs Stéphanie Desbios and Jun Ryuzaki
Since the last meeting of ET-ISA (March-April 2015), the team has mainly focussed on its contribution to the ICAO Meteorology Panel (METP) working groups, especially those addressing the development of concepts of operation, roadmaps and implementation guidance on the aeronautical meteorology (MET) components of ICAO’s aviation system block upgrades (ASBU) methodology, the transition to system-wide information management (SWIM) and implementation of the ICAO Meteorological Information Exchange Model (IWXXM). ET-ISA experts as members of the METP Working Group on Meteorological Requirements and Integration (WG-MRI) supported development of an ICAO MET Information Integration for TBO Concept (now renamed as Concept for the Integration of Meteorological Information for ATM). Moreover, some ET-ISA experts contributed to the improvement of the description of the B1-AMET ASBU module for terminal area aspects and will continue to provide input for the ICAO ASBU framework update in preparation of the next major GANP update (2019 edition).
In April 2016 ET-ISA launched its tasks for gathering requirement information from large-scale programmes such as Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR), NextGen and from other projects for new services in support of ATM, especially in the terminal area. This activity will reinforce especially the performance requirement aspect, with the objective to contribute to the functional and performance requirements definition task for ASBU MET-related modules, a task which is being led by METP WG-MRI.
ET-ISA experts have also been involved in several WMO and ICAO groups addressing MET information exchange under SWIM (e.g. definition of the IWXXM, guidance for the implementation of exchange of OPMET data), on SWIM (e.g. standards and policy development) and informed of the availability of first versions of guidance material for the implementation of IWXXM and exchange of OPMET data. Since coordination with WMO Commission for Basic Systems (CBS) groups on the compatibility between the WMO Information System (WIS) and ICAO’s SWIM is necessary, one of the ET-ISA co-chairs contributed to the first meeting of the CBS IPAG-ISS Inter-Commission Task Team on the WIS (ICTT-WIS) with the aim at conveying the requirements with regard to the WIS. As information management is of paramount importance in the case of SWIM as well as in the WIS, it has been proposed by ICTT-WIS to set up a new Task Team on Information Management (under CBS IPAG-ISS) for which all Technical Commissions, including the CAeM, would nominate experts. In this connection, there is a need to clarify the role and responsibility of ET-ISA in respect of SWIM or IWXXM developments given the activities of other related bodies/groups such as CBS (TT-AvXML) and those on the ICAO side.
News from the other CAeM Expert Teams will appear in the next issue of the Newsletter.
The second meeting of the ICAO Meteorology Panel (METP/2) was convened at ICAO Headquarters, Montreal, Canada, from 17 to 21 October 2016. The meeting was attended by some 60 members, advisors and observers nominated by eighteen States and six international organizations, including WMO. The main outcomes of the meeting included recommendations for proposed amendments to ICAO Annex 3/WMO-No. 49, Technical Regulations, Volume II — Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation for inclusion in Amendment 78 aiming at 2018 applicability, and for modifications to various job cards of the METP to reflect the evolving needs and more realistic timeframes.
It was evident that the four working groups and one ad hoc group of the METP had made much progress in a relatively short period of time since METP/1 (April 2015), notably through the concerted and ongoing efforts of the supporting experts, but that much work still remains as the Panel continues to elaborate the concepts and application of meteorology in keeping with the outcomes of the conjoint ICAO/WMO Meteorology Divisional Meeting in 2014 and the strategy for air transport modernization as conveyed in ICAO’s Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) and its aviation system block upgrades (ASBU) methodology. The outcomes of METP/2 will be considered by ICAO’s Air Navigation Commission in March 2017.
A workshop on aviation meteorology for forecasters took place from 6 to 10 November 2016, kindly hosted by the Qatar Aeronautical College (QAC) in Doha. This was the fourth international workshop on aviation meteorology organized after this institution became a Regional Training Center (RTC) of WMO in March 2011. An official opening ceremony took place where, on behalf of the QAC, Sheikh Mansoor Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Advisor / Director Academic Affairs QAC warmly welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of such training events. His welcome was followed by opening addresses by Dr. Najim Albarazanchi / Head of Meteorology Department RTC Qatar.
The workshop was steered by two members of the CAeM Expert Team on Education, Training and Competency (ET-ETC), Mr. Paul Bugeac and Mr. Jannie Stander. Additional expert presentations were provided by Dr. Puliyappallil Revikumar and Dr. Nathaniel T Servando (QAC). The workshop was attended by 19 participants from 9 different countries: Saudi Arabia (5), Bahrain (1), Iraq (3), Bhutan (1), Maldives (1), Lao PDR (1), Mongolia (1), Brunei (2) and Qatar (4) representing mostly Regional Association II (Asia) and Regional Association V (South-West Pacific).
The workshop goal was to discuss the various aspects and issues related with aviation weather forecasting and competency requirements for aeronautical meteorological forecasters (AMF). Support was provided to members through the following activities:
Presentations and discussions regarding the implementation of QMS and the competency approach, competency assessment tools, assessment process and how competency is ascertained. The BIP-M qualification requirement which became a WMO standard on 1 December 2016 was discussed with the group together with an explanation on how to use BIP-M compliance flow chart which was developed by WMO. Specific technical presentations were led regarding METAR and routine local report production, SPECI, TREND production, TAF production and amendments, significant weather charts and the issue of SIGMET and AIRMET messages.
The format of the workshop included both presentations and large/small group discussions. Participants interacted well with each other and the facilitators helped to clarify questions which arose around the course content. In this respect, a lot of debates took place around topics such as differences between knowledge and competency, means of compliance with BIP-M qualification requirement or significant weather in the region.
Several aspects of the workshop were unique. Most countries already had the advantage of a quality management system in place. Also, the majority of the delegates came from Arabic countries, and they had the opportunity to share and discuss their unrivalled experience with the instructors.
Positive feedback from participants was received regarding how much they have learnt from the workshop which suggests that the workshop was a success. Special thanks go to the QAC for their local organization and hospitality during this training event.
The CAeM Management Group (MG) convened one of its intersessional meetings at Hall-in-Tirol (Innsbruck), Austria, from 8 to 10 November 2016 at the kind invitation of the Permanent Representative of Austria with WMO. The meeting was attended by MG members with WMO Secretariat in support. The MG also welcomed the presence of ICAO at the meeting, to facilitate the necessary alignment of activities and exchanges of information between WMO and ICAO.
Among its many accomplishments during the three days, the MG established organizing committees for a WMO scientific event in 2017 (read more here) and the Sixteenth Session of the CAeM (and its accompanying Technical Conference) in 2018. In addition, the MG formulated a number of other actions to address key topics, including the development of a long-term plan for the Aeronautical Meteorology Programme (AeMP) and a CAeM Operating Plan.
The report of the meeting is available here. It was evident from reports made by the chair/co-chairs of the five CAeM Expert Teams (ETs) that much work has been taking place and will continue to take place going forwards. To facilitate the progress of the work, the ETs and MG convene regular teleconferences and, when needed, face-to-face meetings. Information on all the CAeM ETs as well as the CAeM MG is available here.
In August 2015, the CAeM Expert Team on Education, Training and Competency (ET-ETC) shared with education and training (ETR) focal points and regional training centres (RTCs) an example of good practice on implementation of the WMO qualification standard in WMO Regional Association I (Africa). The Tanzania Meteorological Agency had followed the recommended process by obtaining BIP-M (Basic Instruction Package – Meteorologist) compliance statements from their feeder universities.
In January 2016, new guidance and a carefully prepared flow-chart on how to achieve the 1 December 2016 BIP-M deadline was prepared and widely distributed to all WMO Members, in collaboration with WMO’s ETR Office. This guidance was subsequently translated into four additional official WMO languages.
To further raise the profile of this issue, and of other guidance resources, including frequently asked questions (FAQs), in February 2016 ET-ETC compiled a list of participants at past aeronautical meteorological personnel workshops (covering every Regional Association), and forwarded a useful and practical information sheet on this issue.
More recently, the big news has been the passing of the deadline for aeronautical meteorological forecasters (AMF) to hold the BIP-M qualification. The effective date for this to take effect was 1 December 2016 and, to mark this significant date, ET-ETC sent the following message to all users of the CAeM Moodle website:
“Seven years ago, a major change for aviation meteorology was adopted by WMO Congress and this change started with the implementation of a new concept - Meteorologist competency - which became effective 1st of December 2013. In order to ensure not only the competency of Aviation Meteorologists but also the education level for Aviation Forecasters, the Basic Instruction Package for Meteorologists became compulsory. Today, 1st of December 2016 this requirement has come into force, with all details according to WMO Technical Regulations No. 49 Vol. 1. All information can be found on the ET-ETC website: http://www.caem.wmo.int/moodle/course/view.php?id=7
The ET-ETC is and will be continuously available to offer all necessary support to member states and organizations for these topics.”
For the future, ET-ETC will look forward to finding out the results of the 2016 CAeM global survey on aeronautical meteorological service provision, which includes a question on implementation of the competency and qualification requirements. The ET-ETC will carefully analyze the results in 2017.
WMO’s Seventh Regional Conference on Management of NMHSs (RECO-7) in Regional Association II (Asia) took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on 10 and 11 February 2017, as a precursor to the RA II-16 session (12 to 16 February 2017). The RECO-7 brought together Directors and senior officials of NMHSs in RA II with an ultimate aim to discuss emerging issues and challenges on regional cooperation and capacity development.
A side event dedicated to meteorological services for aviation took place on second day of the RECO-7 where emerging issues and challenges on regional cooperation and capacity development were discussed.
In December 2016, the Permanent Representatives of Botswana and the Maldives with WMO notified the Secretary-General that their respective quality management systems for aeronautical meteorological service provision had attained ISO 9001:2008 certification. This is a significant achievement for both organizations, and it will assure aeronautical users – within the countries and beyond – that the meteorological information supplied complies with the stated requirements, including those contained in ICAO Annex 3/WMO-No. 49, Technical Regulations, Volume II – Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation. In addition, it will demonstrate to other NMHSs who may still be struggling to achieve compliance with the ICAO and WMO quality management requirements that the implementation and certification of a QMS for aeronautical meteorological service provision is both realistic and achievable.
The ICAO meteorological information exchange model (IWXXM) is one of the information exchange models of the system-wide information management (SWIM) global interoperability framework. IWXXM is an exchange format for aeronautical meteorological information jointly developed by WMO and ICAO experts and based on eXtensible Markup Language (XML)/Geography Markup Language (GML). This model is dedicated to meteorology and is expected to better support future aviation needs in the SWIM environment.
The bilateral exchange of IWXXM-based information was introduced November 2013 as part of Amendment 76 to ICAO Annex 3/WMO-No. 49, Technical Regulations, Volume II – Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation. These provisions enable States in a position to do so to exchange their OPMET data not only in TAC (Traditional Alphanumeric Code form) but also in extensible markup language (XML) and more precisely geography markup language (GML). This represents the start of a significant change from the provision and exchange of textual OPMET data towards a digital environment supporting SWIM. Since their inception, OPMET data has been promulgated to user end systems and they were initially designed to be human readable, with a requirement to be highly compact due to bandwidth limitations. The current use of OPMET in a TAC format presents an obstacle to the digital use of the data as it is not entirely geo-referenced. This makes the handling of global data difficult to use correctly and expensive to maintain. These significant difficulties have been highlighted during past code changes. The current coding practices also present an obstacle to efficient automation since coding exceptions are commonly used by States.
IWXXM represents the first step in moves towards an environment where the systems handling this data can make more use of standard applications and techniques. The development of new systems which provide and support digital OPMET data will require initial investment but the use of enabling data exchange standards for other domains such as AIXM (Aeronautical Information eXchange Model) and FIXM (Flight Information eXchange Model) along with IWXXM will lead to a cost reduction due to the implementation of widely used, common data modelling techniques including OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) segments. Consequently, users will be presented with opportunities to create new products at a lower cost by ‘fusing’ the data.
It is essential that the transition towards the use of IWXXM is adequately planned and equipped to make reliable data sets available to users for exploitation as soon as possible at both a regional and a global scale.
This transition towards the use of IWXXM is handled by several of the WMO Technical Commissions – in particular the Commission for Basic Systems (CBS) and CAEM – and their expert teams, as well as by panels and related working groups on the ICAO side at both the regional and global scale.
On the WMO side, expert teams from the CBS, in particular the CBS Task Team on Aviation XML (TT-AvXML), have been elaborating the successive releases of the IWXXM which includes XML/GML schemes needed to encode meteorological information included in traditional MET products such as METAR, SPECI, TAF, AIRMET, SIGMET, TCA and VAA. The first release of IWXXM was published in March 2015 by WMO. The second release of IWXXM including improvements to existing XML schemes (METAR, SPECI, TAF, SIGMET) and new schemes for other products (AIRMET, VAA, TCA) was published by WMO in August 2016. As IWXXM is underpinned by the WMO Modèle pour l'Echange des informations sur le Temps, le Climat et l'Eau (METCE), this model was also updated as necessary and issued as Version 1.2.
Further details of IWXXM2.0, including schemas, schematrons, examples, tutorial and other references can be found at the WMO WIS wiki: http://wis.wmo.int/page=IWXXM-2
Useful documentation and guidance on IWXXM implementation on the WMO side
WMO, and in particular CBS, is responsible for the elaboration and updating process of WMO-No. 306, Manual on Codes. As a consequence of the issuance of the successive releases of IWXXM, this manual needs to be updated. Moreover, it is foreseen that in the coming years, there will be a continued use of the WMO abbreviated header structure and all participating States using the ICAO Extended Aeronautical Message Handling System (AMHS) for the dissemination of meteorological information to the ATM user community. As a logical follow-up of the inclusion of meteorological information in IWXXM format on the WMO Global Transmission System (GTS), the documentation addressing transmission on the GTS has also been updated.
The development of additional guidance is underway in order to allow a faster transition to the IWXXM in accordance with the timeframes determined by the ICAO as follows:
Amendment 76 to Annex 3 (applicable November 2013) enabled the bilateral exchange of XML data for, METAR, SPECI, TAF and SIGMET, for those States in a position to do so. The exchange may have been tested but with the lack of mature available XML schema, the testing has not been fully possible and, as based on bilateral exchange only, no regional plan has yet been established to follow it.
Amendment 77 to Annex 3 (applicable November 2016) recommends the international exchange of XML-formatted METAR/SPECI, TAF, AIRMET, SIGMET, volcanic ash advisory (VAA) and tropical cyclone advisory (TCA).
Amendment 78-B to Annex 3 (with expected applicability November 2020) will introduce the requirement for the international exchange of the aforementioned XML-formatted messages as a standard \. Additional messages, e.g. space weather advisories, may also be required to be XML-formatted and internationally exchanged with this Amendment.
Guidance on IWXXM implementation on the ICAO side
ICAO panels and their working groups, in particular the Meteorology Panel (METP) Working Group on Meteorological Information Exchange (WG-MIE), have been developing roadmaps, guidelines and manuals to foster aeronautical meteorology in SWIM and for the digital exchange of aeronautical meteorological information using IWXXM. Moreover, a first ICAO regional workshop on IWXXM was held at the ICAO European and North Atlantic (EUR/NAT) Office in Paris, France in May 2016.
In order to facilitate IWXXM implementation, some useful documentation has stemming from the foregoing as follow:
ICAO Doc 10003
Manual on the Digital Exchange of Aeronautical Meteorological Information
ICAO Doc 10039
Manual on the SWIM Concept
ICAO METP WG-MIE
Roadmap for Meteorology in SWIM (initial version 1.0)
ICAO METP WG-MIE
Guidelines for the Implementation of OPMET Data Exchange using IWXXM (draft version 1.0)
ICAO EUR Doc 033
Guidelines for the Implementation of OPMET Data Exchange using IWXXM in the EUR Region
[Back to top]SWIM Snapshots - Part 1 By the CAeM Expert Team on Information and Services for Aviation (ET-ISA) with input from the CBS Task Team on Aviation XML (TT-AvXML)
This article is the first of several articles that will appear in the CAeM Newsletter intended to provide readers with an insight of what SWIM (system-wide information management) is, at a conceptual and functional level, and how aeronautical meteorological information is envisaged to be integrated into SWIM in support of a globally interoperable, harmonized air traffic management system of the future. These articles also provide readers with a series of reference materials where additional information can be obtained.
What is SWIM?
With the expected growth in aviation demand, economic pressures and attention to environmental impact, the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system will be increasingly reliant on accurate and timely information. Such information must be organized and provided by solutions that support system-wide interoperability and secured seamless information access and exchange. As today's ATM systems suffer from defaults and constraints that make the global system not efficient enough and at a significant cost, global improvements in information management are needed in order to integrate the ATM network for a performance-enhancing operational scenario. These improvements are envisioned to be applied on a System Wide Information Management (SWIM) basis.
The Global Air Traffic Management (ATM) Operational Concept (ICAO Doc 9854) envisages the application of SWIM to promote information-based ATM integration, stated as follows:
“The ATM operational concept envisages the application of a system-wide information management concept, where information management solutions will be defined at the overall system level, rather than individually at each major subsystem (programme/ project/ process/function) and interface level, as has happened in the past.”
Implementation of the SWIM Concept must address the challenge of creating an “interoperability environment” which allows the SWIM systems to cope with the full complexity of operational information exchanges. The SWIM Concept introduces a significant change in the business practices of managing information during the entire life cycle of an ATM process. The implementation of SWIM seeks to provide the right quality information to the right people with the right systems at the right time. The SWIM environment shifts the ATM information architecture paradigm from point-to-point data exchanges to system-wide interoperability.
Over the course of the past years, research into SWIM concepts and solutions has taken place, and is already at various stages of development in a non-harmonized way in different ICAO Member States. Modernization programmes such as the Collaborative Action for Renovation of Air Traffic Systems (CARATS) in Japan, the China New Generation ATM System (CNAS), the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) in the United States and the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) in Europe, all consider the implementation of SWIM as a fundamental requirement for future ATM systems.
SWIM consists of standards, infrastructure and governance enabling the management of the ATM-related information and its exchange between qualified parties via interoperable services.
The scope of SWIM is illustrated in Figure 1. It includes information exchange standards and the infrastructure required to exchange information between (ATM) SWIM-enabled applications. SWIM-enabled applications consume or provide SWIM information services using SWIM standards.
Figure 1. The scope of SWIM
SWIM is not meant to be a stand-alone concept. The justification for its development and deployment lies in the needs of its client applications which, although not part of SWIM, are the primary users thereof (a curved arrow in Figure 1 is used to indicate this association). SWIM conveys the requirements of the operational ATM services through applications that define the scope and quality of the information.
Interoperability is achieved on a global scale through the use of common information exchange models for information elements of interest, the use of common services for information exchange, and the use of appropriate technology and standards.
These models for ATM information have been defined in harmonized conceptual and logical data models. The models describe the data used in different information domains such as aeronautical, flight, meteorology, and surveillance domains. They also describe logical format and structure of the data elements that make up these domains.
Similarly, a definition of information services is necessary to indicate what types of services are provided, their behaviour, their performance levels and ways they can be accessed.
SWIM operates over an interoperable (runtime) infrastructure (ground/ground and air/ground) through which the data and information will be distributed. Its implementation may, depending on the specific needs profile, differ from one stakeholder to another, both in terms of scope and method of implementation. Typically dedicated and secured IP networks and the Internet will provide the underlying basic ground/ground connectivity.
Achieving interoperability across all areas illustrated in Figure 1 requires that SWIM adheres to agreed-upon governance for the collaborative specification, definition of information and for the management of services along their life cycle.
Figure 2. The five-layered SWIM Global Interoperability Framework
The sharing of information via the SWIM is described in the five-layered SWIM Global Interoperability Framework (see Figure 2), comprising the following layers:
SWIM-enabled Applications of information providers and information consumers around the globe;
Information Exchange Services: the SWIM-enabled applications will use information exchange services for interaction;
Information Exchange Models: using subject-specific standards for sharing information for the above Information Exchange Services. The information exchange models define the syntax and semantics of the data exchanged by applications; they are built on several standardised data model components, including the GML component. This is where the ICAO meteorological Information exchange model (IWXXM) resides along with the other weather exchange model (WXXM) which is an extension of IWXXM defined and governed by the United States FAA, Eurocontrol and others. Figure 3 illustrates the link between IWXXM and WXXM.
SWIM Infrastructure for sharing information: provides the core services such as interface management, request-reply and publish-subscribe messaging, service security, and enterprise service management; and
Network Connectivity: provides consolidated telecommunications services, including hardware. This infrastructure is a collection of the interconnected network infrastructures of the different stakeholders. These will be private/public Internet Protocol (IP) networks.
The scope of SWIM is limited to the three middle layers shown in Figure 2 – namely Information Exchange Services, Information Exchange Models, and SWIM Infrastructure – and to the governance of these layers.
At the information exchange models layers, the characteristics of the data being used by the information exchange services are described to include information content, structure and format. The combined information exchange services and the information exchange models layers define individual application-level messages that can be exchanged to deliver the requested services.
Figure 3. Data Model Components
(Image courtesy: Aaron Braeckel, CBS TT-AvXML)
The application of SWIM in support of the global ATM operational concept was further reinforced in the Manual on Air Traffic Management System Requirements (ICAO Doc 9882). Moreover SWIM is an integral part of the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) (ICAO Doc 9750), and is covered in a number of the GANP’s aviation system block upgrades (ASBU) modules. Additional information on the way SWIM is currently integrated in the GANP/ASBUs will be provided in the next issue of the CAeM Newsletter.
Lastly, it has to be noted that several initiatives in the United States (FAA) and Europe (Eurocontrol) towards the definition of the SWIM concept and development of roadmaps for implementation have been launched in the past few years.
This article provides an overview of several cross-border SIGMET coordination activities going on worldwide. This is to be seen in the context of the ICAO initiative to develop Regional Hazardous Weather Advisory Centres (RHWAC) in a first step and later on to move towards Regional Hazardous Weather Centres (RHWC). ICAO’s overall idea is to reduce inconsistencies in SIGMETs concerning hazardous weather phenomena that are not only observed or forecast within one flight information region (FIR) but are large enough to affect multiple FIRs or that move from one FIR to another. Another ICAO intention is to build a legal framework for regional institutions that are able to publish SIGMETs for areas where there are none produced or only available on an unreliable base. There are already well established international structures for Volcanic Ash (VA) and Tropical Cyclone (TC) SIGMET with the existing VAACs and TCACs in place and different coordination exercises in different regions of the world are already undertaken on a regular base. This article therefore focuses on the cross-border coordination of other weather phenomena (WS) SIGMETs of adjacent FIRs. Since this kind of SIGMET deals with hazardous weather phenomena on a mesoscale (or even microscale) the same principles that apply to phenomena on a synoptic-scale cannot be used.
Due to the size of the reported phenomena the probability that multiple FIRs are affected by the same weather phenomenon decreases with increasing size of the FIRs. In other words, the given size and/or complexity of the FIR structure in a given region is of crucial importance on the coordination needed and the effort it takes to reach its desired level. This can be achieved through bilateral agreements with adjacent FIRs or by coordination on a multilateral basis. A reduction of the number of FIRs can reduce complexity as well as coordination within a multinational consortium. The coordination can range from mere informative phone-calls or emails to align the potential issuance of SIGMETs to State contracts for cross-border services.
In WMO Regional Association (RA) VI (Europe) the FIR structure is so complex that an efficient WS SIGMET coordination is of utmost importance. Over recent years many bilateral coordination agreements between adjacent FIRs have therefore been established. Also different multinational groups or alliances (DACH [Austria, Germany, Switzerland], MET Alliance [Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Switzerland], NAMCon [Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden], PT-EAST [Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan] have been developed and are making significant progress in their coordination efforts.
The Russian Federation has already reduced their number of FIRs and is also running a pilot coordination project together with Belarus. In Late 2016 another coordination project between the MWOs of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia has been initiated and is still running.
In future editions of the CAeM Newsletter we will inform you in more detail about the different coordination initiatives going on in the different regions of the world.
The added value of these coordination activities can be summarised as:
being informed about special air reports and air reports from adjacent FIRs that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise;
getting useful “background information”, e.g. what is the trigger of issuing a SIGMET in the adjacent FIR (special numerical model, special forecast method, etc.); and
overall, if the process of coordination works well, SIGMETs are indeed harmonized to the benefit of the intended user.
Where progress still has to be made
As soon as you need to coordinate across one or even multiple countries and FIR borders you can be confronted with differences in culture, political agendas and language. If you intend to go beyond the mere coordination and harmonization towards the possibility to issue cross-border SIGMETs, you’ll face the lack of required interstate treaties to solve the legal aspects. In addition, you might be faced with different interpretation of ICAO Annex 3 provisions, different perceptions of weather phenomena that need to be aligned or the fact that the forecasters use different high resolution weather models, available observations and other information as the basis for their work.
This complexity can result in significant differences in the perception of spatial extent, time of occurrence or intensity of those weather phenomena warranting the issuance of a SIGMET. In addition to these rather high level issues, more general issues preventing a successful coordination process have to be considered, such as:
operational meteorologists may be reluctant to call a neighbouring MWO for necessary coordination (language issue? lack of confidence? lack of awareness?);
traditional/conventional working methods and tools differ in various States and could make the coordination process somewhat difficult;
emails could be challenging since a forecaster on duty may not be aware of it immediately (in contrast to direct phone calls); and
increasing workload caused by the necessity to call the neighbouring MWOs
One of the main conflicts arising from all these coordination efforts is the question of harmonization versus responsibility. Ultimately, each MWO still remains responsible for SIGMET issuance within its FIR area of responsibility.
Discussion and outlook
The size of the observed or forecast phenomena must be taken into account. Where the well-established regional centres with advisory functions are perfectly suited for synoptic scale phenomena – for example, the handling by VAACs or TCACs of the distribution of volcanic ash in the atmosphere or tropical cyclones – the WS SIGMETs have to deal with mesoscale (or even microscale) hazardous weather phenomena. Sometimes the FIRs are so large that coordination for these meso- or microscale weather phenomena is of minor importance. In the areas of small or highly fragmented FIR structure an improved coordination process for WS SIGMET is most especially needed, which should result in the value-added information for users. The information generated from local observations, expertise and measurements, as well as input from high-resolution numerical weather predication models, are seen as being reliable and accurate for phenomena such as thunderstorms, turbulence and icing (including their expected intensity) and therefore will always be of critical importance.
At the present time, ICAO’s Meteorology Panel is addressing ways and means to enable a transition to a phenomena-based, globally consistent enroute hazardous weather information system. This work has arisen most acutely due to users’ expressed concerns regarding the occasional inconsistency of SIGMET information across FIR boundaries, insufficient granularity of forecasts, excessive forecast latencies as well as other deficiencies that have regrettably prevailed in some regions despite the SIGMET-related capacity building efforts that have taken place.
As weather does not follow any ‘artificial’ national/FIR borders, the feasible approach to better fulfil the need for phenomenon-based SIGMETs could be to move away from such geographic constraints to meteorological information ‘regions’ or areas of responsibility of similar or preferably homogenous climatology. It could then be envisaged that the cross-border FIR coordination might no longer be needed and coordination across those larger area borders might be significantly reduced due to the meso- or microscale nature of the reported weather phenomena.
Another independent issue in the whole SIGMET discussion that has already emerged but probably still needs more attention is the question about the future of the SIGMET format which is currently still in use. This format has done a great job in the past and still does in the present TAC coded, FIR-based SIGMETs, but one might question its suitability – even if translated from TAC to IWXXM – for the future and the ongoing development towards phenomenon-based SIGMETs.
As a WMO representative on ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), Herbert’s explanations of the potential impact of climate change on aviation operations have been instrumental in raising aviation stakeholders’ interest in the related risks for the air transport sector.
In the WMO Bulletin interview, Herbert gives his perspective of what flying through changed atmospheric conditions could look like in the near future.
In January 2017, ICAO released figures which indicated that the total number of passengers carried on scheduled services reached 3.7 billion in 2016, a 6.0 per cent increase over 2015. The number of departures rose to approximately 35 million globally, and world passenger traffic, expressed in terms of total scheduled revenue passenger-kilometres (RPKs), posted an increase of 6.3 per cent, with approximately 7,015 billion RPKs performed. This growth is a slowdown from the 7.1 per cent achieved in 2015. Read more via the ICAO Newsroom here.
International scheduled passenger traffic (RPK) growth in 2016 (Courtesy: ICAO)
Preparations are underway for the convening of a WMO Aeronautical Meteorology Scientific Conference (AeroMetSci-2017), expected to take place at Météo-France in Toulouse, France from 6 to 10 November 2017 at the kind invitation of the Permanent Representative of France with WMO. The conference stems from Decision 44 (EC-68) which endorsed the organizing of a WMO scientific event with broad participation of research, operation and user communities, with the objective to identify needs and plan the research activities during the ASBU Block 1 and Block 2 timeframes conveyed in ICAO’s Global Air Navigation Plan.
The conference will be a cross-cutting collaborative endeavour involving, as a minimum, the CAeM, the Commission for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS) and the Commission for Basic Systems (CBS) in areas including observations and data processing, nowcasting, very-short-range forecasting and verification. An organizing committee for AeroMetSci-2017 has been established to oversee and assist with all the necessary arrangements up to and including the conducting of the conference.
An invitation to attend the conference will be extended by the WMO Secretary General to Permanent Representatives and others concerned in the coming months as planning and preparations continue.
As announced in the previous newsletter, Mr Yi WANG joined the Secretariat in September 2016 for an internship within the Aeronautical Meteorology Division of the WDS Department.
Yi’s internship has recently been extended beyond its initial 3 month period and so he will be with the AEM Division until at least June 2017. Yi will primarily be assisting the AEM Division with the compilation and assessment of the responses to the 2016 CAeM global survey on aeronautical meteorological service provision, with a view to publishing the findings on the AeMP website and reporting to the constituent bodies of the Organization in 2017.