An Introduction to Aviation Meteorologists

On any given day, approximately one hundred thousand planes are airborne. Who is responsible for ensuring they all get to their destinations safely while avoiding thunderstorms, severe turbulence, and other air hazards? 

Safe flights depend not only on safe equipment but on safe weather as well. Pilots rely on meteorologists, the people who observe, report, and forecast the weather. 

Weather makes a significant impact on flight operations and planning. With DTN Meteorology Consulting, you can speak with an expert 24/7. Your expert aviation meteorologist will help you understand current forecasts, troubleshoot problems, obtain advice, and support critical decision-making. 

Airplane flying over control tower

What Is An Aviation Meteorologist?

Meteorologists do so much more than TV weather reports. They play a vital role in government and private sector aviation, communications, and environmental, marine, and space enterprises. 

Aviation meteorologists provide weather information to airline operations, flight dispatchers, and pilots. The meteorologist must determine both the current and forecasted weather conditions for all altitudes. These conditions include the wind’s direction and speed, cloud cover, visibility, and precipitation. 

Aviation weather reports differ from other weather reports because they consider what conditions may affect flights. For example, if heavy turbulence is likely at one altitude, the pilot needs to know what altitude to climb to, avoiding the turbulence. Aviation meteorologists rely on radar, computers, weather station information, and other tools to compile their weather reports. 

Aviation meteorologists focus on the weather patterns impacting: 

  • aircraft that are already in the sky, flying toward their destinations,
  • planes that are about to take off, or 
  • planes that are about to land.

They continually monitor and forecast the weather and pass the information to the aviation industry to make informed decisions. Sometimes that can result in delaying or canceling flights.

Working as an aviation meteorologist carries a high level of responsibility. Predicting the weather can be challenging and occasionally frustrating. Because airplanes fly at all hours, aviation meteorologists’ work schedules may include nights, weekends, and holidays, especially if there is an urgent weather situation at hand. An aviation meteorologist needs to have a logical and analytical mind and work calmly under pressure.

Where do aviation meteorologists get their skills? Schooling and the military. Lots of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) classes. Meteorologists are born at universities and colleges, some of which also produce professional pilots. Schools encourage pilots to double major or at least minor in meteorology because there is no question that weather shapes aviation and space activities.

Airplane on tarmac

The History Of Aviation Meteorology

In 1903, the Wright brothers took their first flight. 

In 1911, C.P. Rogers completed the first transcontinental airplane flight. Mr. Rogers spent 87 hours and four minutes over 18 days flying from the West Coast (New York City) to the East Coast (Pasadena, California).  

Three years later, in 1914, the U.S. Weather Bureau, the predecessor agency to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service, established an aerological section. The purpose of this section was to provide weather forecasts specifically to meet aviation’s growing needs. 

The science of aviation weather hit two significant milestones in 1918. First, the Weather Bureau began issuing weather bulletins and forecasts for domestic military flights and new airmail routes. Second, on December 1st that year, the Weather Bureau issued its first official weather forecast.

Recognizing the critical connection between aviation and weather forecasting, Congress passed new legislation on May 20th, 1926. The Air Commerce Act included language toward the Weather Bureau for them “to furnish weather reports, forecasts, warnings … to promote the safety and efficiency of air navigation in the United States.”

Over the years, technology evolved. The focus for weather prediction became learning about weather patterns and less about “reporting” on the surface issues.

In 1942, radar entered the forecasting picture. How? The United States Navy gave the Weather Bureau several surplus aircraft radars. These aircraft radars were then modified for ground meteorological use, marking the start of a weather radar system in the U.S.

Aviation meteorology is a growing career on its own. Commercial weather forecasting is growing in popularity. Big data makes it easier for information to be processed. Forecasts are becoming more accurate. Weather products and services are providing real business insights and improving decision making. That means airlines run closer to schedule. Less fuel is necessary, and, occasionally, with prompt warnings, lives are saved.

Airplane flying by lightning

Working With An Aviation Meteorologist

Professional aviation meteorologists are at your service when you need them to help ensure your flight can be as safe and smooth as humanly possible. Get advance notice of severe weather along flight paths. Proprietary forecasts and predictive models provide the most precise and reliable weather information you will find in the aviation industry.

DTN aviation meteorologists are available online or over the phone to answer your weather-related questions any time, day or night. When you need a professional’s weather insights and aviation decision support, DTN is here for you.

When you work with an aviation meteorologist, you can:

  • Plan flight routes more efficiently, using less fuel, and staying on schedule.
  • Avoid costly delays and cancellations.
  • Provide a smoother ride for your passengers and your personnel by minimizing turbulence.
  • Optimize programs by using long-range forecasts.
  • Monitor atmospheric conditions in real-time.
  • View weather and atmospheric conditions at multiple altitudes, including upper-air flight support.
  • Evaluate runway visibility.
  • Predict specific weather conditions along your flight path, not just at take-off or landing.
  • Reroute or replan using up-to-date weather information.
  • Maximize revenue by keeping your flights operating, your schedule efficient, and your planes where they should be.
  • Receive personalized consultations for your specific needs.
  • Make both major and minor decisions quickly after consulting with an expert.

Weather makes a significant impact on flight operations and planning. With DTN Meteorology Consulting, you can speak with an expert 24/7. Your expert aviation meteorologist will help you understand current forecasts, troubleshoot problems, obtain advice, and support critical decision-making.