844 Development of Regional Hazardous Weather Advisory Centers

Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Steven Albersheim, FAA, Washington, DC; and T. J. Helms Jr., L. Burch, and M. K. Peterson

The responsibility to provide in-flight weather advisories resides with the State-recognized Meteorological Watch Office (MWO). Airlines depend on the MWOs for the provision of SIGMETs for both tactical and strategic planning, as well as Air Traffic Management. The skill level and resources of the MWOs vary greatly across the globe. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) provides oversight of the capability of States to meet agreed upon international standards for the provision of meteorological information for international air navigation. ICAO works with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to ensure forecasters are qualified to provide this essential service. ICAO has observed that there are deficiencies in the provision of SIGMETs in certain ICAO Regions and States. The continuation of these deficiencies is deemed unacceptable.

The 2014 ICAO/WMO Meteorological (MET) Divisional Meeting recognized the work of the ICAO Meteorological Warnings Study Group to resolve the longstanding issue of SIGMET information deficiencies by some ICAO States, mainly in Africa and Southeast Asia. The meeting reviewed the proposed Concept of Operations (ConOps), as well as cost recovery plans, and endorsed the proposal to pursue a new regional advisory system for select hazardous weather conditions in selected regions of the world. Subsequently, the ICAO Air Navigation Commission established the Meteorology (MET) Panel (METP) and tasked it with addressing the recommendation of the MET Divisional meeting regarding the development of Regional Hazardous Weather Advisory Centers (RHWACs). As an ICAO expert group, the METP, in collaboration with WMO, will develop provisions supporting the implementation of a phenomenon-based regional advisory system that is consistent with the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP).

The METP faces a number of challenges in developing the provisions for the formation of Regional Hazardous Weather Advisory Centers (RHWACs). Currently, there is no clear guidance on how to choose the location and areas of responsibility for the RHWACs. Under the current system of providing meteorological information for global air navigation, States receive compensation for issuing SIGMETs; with the regionalization of centers, States may lose this revenue stream. The METP must develop the performance requirements and guidance documents necessary to establish RHWACs and work with the ICAO Air Transport Bureau, which governs rates and charges, to determine the best cost recovery mechanism for the designated centers. The work plan for the METP in support of RHWAC concept includes the possible extension of the 2011 SIGMET trial to address current deficiencies in service, drafting the ConOps and performance requirements for RHWACs for inclusion in Amendment 78 to ICAO Annex 3, as well as developing the selection criteria for RHWACs.

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