NZ MET work

New MET expert capacity at CAA

In early August, Paula Acethorp joined the CAA as Chief Meteorological officer (Designate). Paula came from the Aviation Weather Services Manager position at MetService and is an experienced meteorologist, familiar with both New Zealand aviation meteorological systems and the global ICAO systems. At the end of May 2019, Paula will assume the full CMO responsibilities when Peter Lechner leaves the position after many years’ service.

In the meantime the CAA MET dream team consists of Peter Lechner (CMO) and Paula Acethorp (CMO(D)) full-time, supported part-time by Keith Mackersy (Senior Meteorological Specialist).

NZ MET Symposium/2

The second NZ MET Symposium was successfully held on 3 October 2018 at CAA. 43 participants from across the industry in NZ, Australia and the South pacific were presented with development update perspectives from:

  • International (ICAO) meteorological systems development (CAA),
  • International and local meteorological systems development (MetService)
  • Australian meteorological systems development (Bureau of Meteorology)
  • Air traffic management in NZ (Airways)
  • Pacific airlines perspectives (Fiji Airways)
  • NSS meteorological focus (CAA)

Meeting outcomes included the closure of many previous actions showing good progress overall, new actions identified in optimising MET information for GA and looking for a better remedial strategy for South Pacific MET systems capacity and capability deficits (this having concomitant significant safety risk).

Refer to the meeting report
New Zealand Aviation Meteorology Symposium [PDF 777 KB]

Refer here for all background material and presentations to the MET Symposiums.

Graphical Aviation Forecast Product (GRAFOR)

MetService and CAA work in the development of a graphical low level significant weather product was completed with the launch of the product in mid-year.

It consolidates the previous text ARFOR information into a graphical low level significant weather forecast over the whole country up to 10,000ft, and is accompanied by the Aviation Area Winds (AAW) that lists the traditional winds up to FL100 for each of the old ARFOR areas.

GRAFOR User Guide [PDF 4.6 MB]

The GRAFOR is complemented by the Graphical NZ SIG Weather (GNZSIGWX)(external link) – depicting expected areas of moderate icing, CB, turbulence etc. at various flight level bands. (Operators should continue to monitor SIGMET and Graphical SIGMET for expected severe phenomena).

Refer to Full GA MET(external link) and Single GA Portal(external link) for further information.

Longer International Aerodrome Forecasts

A decision has been taken reflecting demand from various airlines, to move from the current 24-hour aerodrome forecasts to 30-hour forecasts (T+30 TAF) for the international aerodromes, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch

This decision reflects the global move to ultra-long-haul (ULH) operations. Working with MetService, the CAA is looking to implement the longer TAF by mid-2019, ensuring it is as robust as possible, and with an ongoing verification scheme to identify performance and improvement opportunities over time.

QNH Issues

Work continues on the correction of use and supply of QNH at a number of secondary unattended aerodromes.


Global MET Work


The full ICAO MET Panel met formally in Montreal over 10-15 September, with Peter Lechner continuing as Chair, Paula Acethorp and Norm Henry (GM Science Strategy) in support as advisers. Around 80 papers were covered at the meeting resulting in a number of recommendations and decisions on approach to ongoing work in the various working groups.

The MET Panel completed its work on the development and standards for the Global Space Weather information system with recommendations to the ICAO Air Navigation Council:

There should be two global centres supported by four regional centres.

All nine of the volunteering States audited by specialists from the WMO were found capable of providing the defined services.

The ICAO guidance developed is mature and was ratified at METP/4.

Full MET Panel/4 Report(external link)

Global (ICAO) Space Weather Systems

As noted above, the MET Panel completed its work on the development of standards for the Global Space Weather information system, recommending to the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC) two global centres supported by four regional centres. Despite the MET Panel and Air Navigation Commission recommendations, the ICAO Council made a decision that effectively set the scene for three global centres to be joined later by a fourth:

  • United States
  • PECASUS consortium (European consortium lead by Finland and with UK as back-up)
  • ACFJ consortium (Australia, Canada, France (lead) and Japan)
  • Potentially in the future; a Russia/ China consortium

Under Peter Lechner’s guidance, the MET Panel is currently working on the operational schema for the conjoint provision of space weather information. The group working on this matter consists of various MET Panel experts and representatives of the organisations and consortiums chosen by ICAO. The provision of the Space Weather Advisory information now specified in Annex 3 is expected to begin in the first half of 2019.

For further information:
Manual on Space Weather Information in Support of International Air Navigation(external link).

ICAO/WMO Volcanic Ash Advisory System Meetings

CAA and MetService hosted a number of international meetings on the management and development of the ICAO airways volcano watch operations (IAVW) from 5 – 14 November 2018. The work of these meetings is critical to the ongoing utility of the IAVW:

Best Practices meeting for the nine volcanic ash advisory centres – VAACs (WMO science and forecasting perspective) – MetService as host.

Meeting of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Group (VASAG) – to further determine the path for ongoing scientific developments, especially now with regard to the probabilistic forecast of ash densities and trajectories – CAA as host. GNS scientists will also participate.

Meeting of the ICAO MET Panel Operations Groups work stream on the management of and development of the IAVWCAA as host.

Meeting of the ICAO MET Information and Standards Development work stream on the management of and development of SO2 advisory products – CAA as host.

The most progressive outcome of the meetings was the acceptance that work can now start on the development of density/dose based forecasts of volcanic ash contamination to replace the current deterministic forecast. This will greatly assist aircraft operators to plan and manage flights in less-contaminated areas.

Refer to ICAO meetings(external link) and WMO Meetings(external link) for more information.

ICAO Air Navigation Conference

Peter Lechner participated at the ANC Conference (Montreal 9 – 19 October) along with the Director and Deputy Director, and Principal Policy Adviser CAA). On behalf of New Zealand, Peter presented a critical paper on the need for better support of the global meteorological effort:

AN-Conf/13-WP/183 Support of Ongoing Collaboration, Management, and Development of the Global Aeronautical Meteorological System:

In order to cope with current and future demands, States, international organisations, and ICAO will need to provide greater capability and capacity in order to effectively support and implement the aeronautical meteorological programme.

This paper observed the critical diminution of expert capacity in the MET field that will affect the GANP implementation if not addressed, especially within ICAO. Other States also presented papers in support of the situation and suitable recommendations from the Committee were accepted into the overall meeting report.

Refer to the report - (Agenda Item 2.3 and recommendation 2.3/1-4(external link))  for further information.

MET Panel Information Exchange and Requirements Implementations conjoint workshop

Over 26-28 November 2018, Humphrey Elton from MetService participated in a special workshop in Brussels covering the nature, direction and technical challenges facing the global MET community in the shift from traditional alphanumeric codes (TAC) to the ICAO mandated IWXXM format (extensible mark-up language). This workshop looked at issues relating to the production, transmission and use of the IWXXM formatted MET data within the context of technical governance in the ICAO mandated System Wide Information Management (SWIM) concept - also under development in the wider ICAO community of States.

It is not unreasonable to expect very significant challenges from the move from TAC to IWXXM over the next decade.

Regional MET work

Asian Meteorological Centre

An Asian Aviation Meteorological Centre (AAMC), jointly established by the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), commenced operation in July 2018.

The three agencies work closely with meteorological organisations in the region to co-ordinate Significant Weather Information (SIGMET) with a view to improving the level of aviation meteorological services in the region.

The AAMC provides a weather monitoring platform for issuing forecasts and alerts on hazardous weather such as thunderstorms, turbulence, icing and is intended to assist meteorological organisations of neighbouring countries. The AAMC also provides a platform for forecasters from different areas to coordinate SIGMET information, with a view to improving the overall forecast quality in the region..


The ICAO Asia Pacific Volcanic Ash Exercises Steering Group (VOLCEX) meets annually to develop and implement exercises for the exchange of and response to volcanic ash information for aviation. VOLCEX typically organises two exercises each year on a rotational basis in the Asia Pacific Region. Exercises over the past few years have involved selecting particular volcanoes in the region and arranging for specific States to issue and monitor volcanic information based on simulated volcanic eruptions. New Zealand, Australia and Fiji are planning to conduct an exercise in May 2019, which will simulate a volcanic ash event affecting the FIRs of the three countries.

Pacific Aviation Weather Services

At the recent Aviation Meteorology Symposium (Wellington, October 2018) a number of issues concerning the provision of aviation weather services in the Pacific were discussed. It was agreed that New Zealand and Australia would consider developing a joint Pacific Island assistance strategy to improve the provision of aviation weather products in the region.

Posted 2 years ago