2.4 How Collaborative Working Led to the Development of Probabilistic Forecasting Informing Binary Operational Decisions at Europe's Busiest Airport, London Heathrow

Monday, 8 January 2018: 11:15 AM
Room 16AB (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Jason Louis Kelly, Met Office, Exeter, UK

2010 saw the second coldest December on record in England. There were frequent snow events, as well as persistent frost. This posed a particular challenge to an aviation community which had become used to largely benign and mild winters over the preceding decade. It also brought into focus how the Met Office as regulated supplier of aviation forecasts advised its customers during high impact weather events.
On the morning of December 18th an active cold front brought heavy snow to southeast England. This led to the closure of Heathrow Airport and the cancellation of thousands of flights. Due to the high impact of this, both socially (it was the weekend before Christmas and one of the busiest weekends of the year) as well as economically (the cost to airlines as well as the airport was significant), a commission was set up to see how meteorological provision for the airport could be improved. One of the outcomes was that the Met Office would provide a team of forecasters to Heathrow to work there 24/7 and advise operations and ATC directly.
In this presentation we will look at:
How being onsite allowed the development of new and more relevant forecast services for various aviation customers.
How probabilistic forecasting can inform binary decision-making by the airport and airlines.
How the ability to reach back to Met Office HQ for operational guidance and science collaboration has led to the development of an even better working relationship with the aviation customer.
How the success of this has led to additional demand for onsite forecasters and targeted forecasts at other airports, airlines and air traffic services.
How helping promote efficient operations and flag up high impact weather which would adversely impact this key piece of UK infrastructure is going some way to realising the Met Office’s vision of providing £2billion of socio-economic benefits to the country.

Each of these points will address the development of creative and collaborative ways to work with the aviation customer in a meaningful and fully collaborative manner

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