Editor’s comment: Greatest forecast ever

Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

This week’s comment marks a departure from our usual focus on cabin interior developments, as the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landings was marked on 6 June.

Aviation played a key role in the unfolding events. That day in 1944, Allied Forces were able to call upon some 14,700 aircraft, including 4,350 gliders. As the UK’s NATS highlighted, these flights were managed with flare guns, signal lamps, blackboards and chalk. A stark contrast to the 24 May, which saw NATS handle 8,742 flights on the busiest day of the year so far, aided by highly trained staff and cutting-edge technology. The average is around 7,000+ per day.

But none of this would have been possible, had it not been for the pivotal role of meteorologists, and one, James Stagg, in particular. Stagg and his teams relied on the synoptic charts to provide the information they needed. These charts identified both the bad weather which resulted in the postponement of the invasion on the 5th and predicted the weather window which enabled it to go ahead on the 6th. As Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the allied forces, later acknowledged: “Thank the Gods of war we went when we did.”

Today, meteorologists use powerful supercomputers to do more than 1,000 trillion calculations a second, to help produce forecasts. The UK’s Met Office is one of only two World Area Forecast Centres (WAFC) and is known as WAFC London – the other is WAFC Washington (NOAA), and supplies global forecasts of upper winds and temperatures for flights throughout the world, helping to optimise safety and fuel consumption and significant weather data (SIGWX) charts.

In April this year, Aireon, the first ever real-time, global air traffic surveillance system, became fully operational and in trial use over the North Atlantic.

Aireon’s space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) system provides real-time air traffic surveillance and tracking to 100% of ADS-B-equipped aircraft on the planet.

“For the first time in history, we can surveil all ADS-B-equipped aircraft anywhere on Earth,” said Don Thoma, Aireon CEO, adding: “The aviation industry has now joined the rest of the 21st century where real-time connectivity is relied upon for doing business.”

New technology is enabling better management of our congested skies and a greater understanding of weather and its potential impact on flights, all the while maintaining safety in the skies.

Some of these advancements and observations can be traced back to World War II and the hard work and diligence of hundreds of unknown men and women.

#DDay75 – We remember their courageous sacrifices.


The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Inflight e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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