The Best Aviation Weather Services for Safe Airport Operations

Few things are more critical to safe flight operations than accurate information about the weather. If you receive weather data from several sources, you may wind up with a fragmented picture of current and upcoming meteorological conditions. Aviation weather services can help you remove this confusion.

Adverse weather conditions can develop quickly and unexpectedly. If you don’t have enough notice, your entire airport operation can suffer from severe disruptions. Fortunately, technology now allows hyper-local meteorological data to keep you operating safely.

Consider upgrading your operations to include a weather observation service that streamlines and clarifies critical weather data. Contact DTN for a demonstration today of our robust solutions.

What Makes for Excellent Weather Aviation Services? 

The best weather services for airports and airlines are customizable. Depending on your specific operation, you may choose some or all of these features:

Low-Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS)

LLWAS is a ground-based detection system. It detects wind shear, microbursts, and other weather phenomena that can impact air travel. 

The LLWAS uses anemometers to gather data in strategic locations throughout the airport region. Older systems use a minimum of six anemometers, while newer arrangements may have thirty or more. Land access and obstructions such as buildings, trees, or hills may compromise optimal placement. 

Typically, the LLWAS detects information on a single, horizontal plane because all of the anemometers sit at roughly the same height. Some airports have access to an advantageous placement position, though, such as a nearby cellular tower. In those instances, vertical measurements are available by analyzing data from different altitudes. 

The sensors send readings to a system processor. This device analyzes and compares perimeter and central anemometer data and notes significant differences in wind speed. 

Some systems will also note differences from one perimeter sensor to the next. Significant differences will trigger a wind shear or, in some instances, a microburst alert.  

Wind shear presents a significant threat to flights on both takeoff and landing. A high-level LLWAS can inform pilots and air traffic controllers of sudden changes in weather conditions in real-time. 

LiDAR Wind Shear Alerting System (LiWAS)

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) works in a similar way to sonar or radar. But instead of sound waves, LiDAR relies on light waves. 

When technology uses LiDAR in its wind shear alerting system, you get LiWAS capabilities. LiWAS provides augmented coverage in conjunction with LLWAS. 

In addition to measuring horizontal wind shear, LiDAR detects inversions and low-level jet streams. This technology also flags wind shear along the glide path.

A LiWAS system provides a coverage area of up to 10 km. This range may circumvent the need to replace or add anemometers to your operation.

LiDAR has some significant benefits for your operation. It does not produce electromagnetic radiation, is safe for eyes, and requires almost no maintenance. 

Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS)

ATIS provider continually broadcasts vital aeronautical information to airline crews. It provides data directly to the cockpit so that pilots can make decisions without requiring air traffic control communication. Automating output of this data frees ATC to perform essential takeoff and landing duties.

ATIS gathers data and uses it to calculate reports and observations. Both pilots and ATC staff will appreciate individualized information that can even include broadcasts in several languages.

ATIS also stores historical data for long-term trend analysis and review. This information is an essential component of an airport’s aviation weather services.

Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS)

AWOS is an airport weather system that provides a continuous report on current weather conditions. It enables safer and more efficient operations for airlines and airports.

AWOS generally provides details that ATIS doesn’t offer. Coverage may include:

  • Visibility
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Precipitation- Covers precipitation type and accumulation, including freezing rain
  • Thunderstorm Detection
  • Ceiling and Sky Conditions
  • Dew Point
  • Temperature

AWOS messages arrive via radiofrequency and include updates each minute. Weather issues cause more than 70% of flight delays, so up-to-the-minute meteorological data is crucial.

Get the Coverage You Need

The best aviation weather services have a variety of options available to you. The selections that are most advantageous to your airport operations should work together seamlessly. 

Consider investing in a system that allows you to make upgrades as necessary. Software-based equipment tends to be easier to program and troubleshoot than is older technology. Current technology is also simple to upgrade as new advances become available. 

 Before choosing a weather service package, ask these questions:

  • Does this system compile weather data from field instruments and airport systems?
  • Are calculations performed automatically for observations and reports?
  • Is quality control integrated into the programming? The provider should be able to provide you with details and statistics of quality control analysis.
  • What is the process of modifying the service as your needs change? An excellent service plan should be adaptable to scale with your operation.
  • Does the program provide information in a variety of languages? Which languages are accessible?
  • Will you have access to a historical record of prior weather data?
  • What schedule options are available for automated observations and reports? One great reason to install a weather system is the fact that it frees your employees to focus on more technical duties. Make sure your service provider has the technology to meet your needs. 
  • What delivery options are available for reports and observations? A variety of choices will make information more accessible to all of your users.

Look for a system that puts all of your relevant data together. It should analyze the whole picture to deliver the most useful observations and reports.

commercial airport aerial view shadow of a cloud

Choose the Best Coverage Available

When doing your research, make sure to check a service provider’s status with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This international forum focuses on upholding the highest safety standards throughout the civil aviation world. Before choosing a weather services provider, make sure their products are ICAO-compliant. 

Precise weather data delivered in real-time will reduce flight delays and runway accidents. Keep your airport operations safe and efficient with fast and accurate weather information. Contact DTN for a demonstration today.