Weather responsible for a third of delay

8 August 2018

Since 2013, there has been an 80% increase in delay minutes attributable to weather. This summer – and it is not over yet! – we have had large, high cumulonimbus (CB) cells in the core of Europe for days on end, making for a lot of delay. 

Joe Sultana, our Director Network Manager, observed: “Aircraft operators have to avoid these CB cells but their search for gaps is not an organised process so the safe portions of airspace that are available quickly become saturated – so making for more delay.”

 With climate change, weather events are becoming more intense and less predictable. There are more, increasingly severe, storms and wind; rainfall is more intense. The weather this summer has been even worse than it was last year.



Minutes of delay attributed to adverse weather in 2017 and 2018

The January User Forum held a session on weather matters and at one of the breakout sessions, it was decided that the time had come to collaborate and plan better in this area. So, EUROCONTROL organised a weather forum, called “Weatherproofing the Network”, in May 2018 with the goal of helping the network as a whole find practical solutions for dealing with disruptive weather. You can read about the Weather Forum and its conclusions here.

Talking about delay caused by adverse weather, Joe Sultana noted: “The Americans are much better organised in dealing with the weather than we are in Europe. They have much more experience because extreme weather phenomena are not uncommon in the United States. 

“We will be trying out some of the procedures that they have shared with us, starting with the obvious one: using a single, commonly accepted weather forecast for Europe on which to plan alternative scenarios. This will stop the arguments as to which of the 30+ national meteorological service providers to use.”

On 7 August 2018, NM held its first “Cross Border Weather Coordination Meeting”. The objective: to improve collaboration, planning and the dissemination of information; to see where gaps exist and to incorporate lessons learned into procedures. NATS and the DFS attended the first meeting, together with the UK’s Met Office.

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