The UK Met Office – provider of meteorological forecasting services to global aviation
The UK Met Office's World Area Forecast Centre (WAFC) is one of only two international centres approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to deliver upper-air aviation forecasting services across the globe. Airports, air navigation service providers, local meteorological centres and many others use the forecasts to optimise their operations whilst providing a safe, efficient and cost-effective service to consumers.
The Met Office was considering a range of possible upgrades to the WAF service (WAFS) that could further enhance airline operations and commissioned Helios to explore and quantify the future anticipated socio-economic benefits of these upgrades.
Role of Helios
The focus of Helios' work was on the global en-route benefits generated as a result of Met Office's WAFC forecasts with a regional breakdown of where these are concentrated. This had not been considered before in a systematic and detailed manner.
The primary aim was to compare the potential value to end users of four different upgrade scenarios envisioned by the Met Office. The scenarios set out various improvements to forecast lead time, spatial resolution and temporal resolution of the gridded simulations along with the impact of moving to probabilistic forecasts.
The study began with a detailed literature review to understand the status quo, past methodologies and valuations. Current forecasting performance was also analysed with respect to the variables that influence the quality of data; things like winds, temperature, turbulence and cumulonimbus (Cb) verification. The team also analysed global routes used by airlines to determine the localities of benefit generation, creating a database of flight route data for the busiest 200 airports in the world.
Prior to developing a concrete methodology for the benefit valuation, the team interviewed leading airlines and flight planning software vendors to validate the anticipated benefits against each upgrade scenario and understand how the forecasts are used in operations control rooms around the world. They then proceeded to develop a clear methodology for the assessment of each scenario, and a unique model for quantification of benefits.
A suitable methodology was devised that provided a benefits appraisal using real global flight data and years of Met Office verification data. Uniquely, the study provided a regional breakdown of the anticipated benefits along with a forecast until 2030 as well as accounting for uncertainties through a sensitivity analysis.
Outputs included: calculated yearly monetary benefits leverageable by airlines until 2030 and calculated environmental impacts in terms of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions savings, which accounted for nitrous oxides, carbon oxides and sulphur emissions.
The team were able to address the client's uncertainty regarding their strategy for the WAFS and able to put together a compelling argument, backed by industry experts, for which upgrade scenario should be pursued
For further information on this project please contact Mike Shorthose.