IATA and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have signed an agreement to increase and improve the automated reporting of meteorological data by commercial aircraft.

The new initiative, called the WMO and IATA Collaborative AMDAR Programme (WICAP), aims to expand the existing WMO Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) system to ensure coverage over data-sparse areas. It is expected to bring many additional and new partner airlines into the program, which is already supported by approximately 40 airlines and covers several thousand passenger and cargo aircraft. 

“One of the many unfortunate aspects of the COVID-19 crisis has been the severe loss—of up to 90%—of aircraft-derived meteorological data as a result of the steep decline in airline operations and passenger flights since March 2020,” said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas. 

“Meteorological services and other data providers have tried to offset this loss, but there has been a measurable negative impact on the accuracy of weather forecasts as a result of AMDAR data reductions,” said Professor Taalas. 

The AMDAR observing system produces over 800 000 high-quality observations per day of air temperature and wind speed and direction, together with the required positional and temporal information, and with an increasing number of humidity and turbulence measurements being made. 

This information is provided to meteorological agencies and computerized weather prediction systems. These in turn support the generation of forecast and weather service products for aviation. 

Under the new WICAP collaboration, the WMO community will take on the role of establishing a regionally based operational framework for reception and processing of the data. IATA will be responsible for promoting airline participation in the program and help coordinate technical solutions for data relay, while protecting the airlines’ ownership of the data.

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