The Bureau of Meteorology is keen to see more aviation organisations use their own automatic weather stations (AWS). Currently, three organisations hold authorisation to provide meteorological reporting services at 23 locations. However, the bureau says authorisations would be particularly useful for offshore aviation services.
An authorised AWS on an offshore production facility could provide greater flexibility and a wider margin of safety for helicopters visiting the facility. Accurate measurement of air temperature, for example, can allow helicopters flying offshore to use the aircraft design specifications for loading. When general forecasts are used, flight planning has to be based on worst-case scenarios.
CHC Helicopter pilot Michael Lobb has experience in flying to the Phillips Petroleum Bayu Undan platform, in the Timor Sea, which has its own AWS. ‘Considering the unpredictability of weather in the tropics, the importance of accurate weather prediction and reporting for commercial and above all safety reasons cannot be understated,’ he says. ‘The reports from an authorised helideck weather station allow us to optimise capacity on each flight whilst maintaining the highest possible safety standards.’
Use of meteorological information and equipment is authorised under Civil Aviation Regulations, 1988, Regulation 120 (CAR120). The bureau says a CAR120 authorised AWS System has the potential to support safer and more efficient fuel planning and flight operations for helicopters operating to offshore locations. Providers also have the opportunity to add services such as METAR/SPECI observations and TAF.
Who to contact?
The bureau’s Meteorological Authority Office processes applications for authorisation of automatic weather stations (AWS). The Meteorological Authority Office (email@example.com) is also happy to assist providers in the appropriate siting of meteorological equipment.