Flybe and AirDat combine to improve European weather forecasts

Flybe and AirDat, a private US-based weather forecaster, have announced a partnership to provide real-time meteorological data for Europe directly from Flybe’s fleet of 83 aircraft.

Flybe aeroplanes will be the first in Europe to carry AirDat’s proprietary Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) sensor. This airborne weather sensor streams atmospheric data in real time from the aircraft to AirDat’s data centre, at which the information is quality checked, processed, and assimilated into TAMDAR-optimised, high-resolution forecast models for European weather customers.

The two companies note that Flybe’s high-frequency business model will enable AirDat to collect more than 1,000 unique weather observations each day. The initial phase of the installation will result in 20 aircraft being equipped by May 2012.

The TAMDAR system will, in turn, provide weather data and operational benefits to Flybe, including enhanced Iridium-based satellite voice and data communications capability, automated weather reports and real-time flight and departure information for passengers.

Commenting on the partnership, Andrew Strong managing director of Flybe UK, remarked, “It’s a testament to our high-frequency business model and extensive European reach that AirDat has chosen Flybe as its first European partner airline. What’s more, it’s a real win–win deal, with Flybe gaining ground-to-air communication throughout the UK and Europe which will provide many benefits for both our customers and our flight operations.”

Jay Ladd, AirDat’s CEO, added, “We are pleased to be working with Flybe to deploy our TAMDAR advanced weather technology throughout Europe. TAMDAR will stream richer, real-time atmospheric data from Flybe aircraft that will help accelerate SESAR weather programmes while significantly improving forecasts to better protect public and economic interests throughout the region.”

The partnership will ultimately equip up to 100 Flybe aircraft with TAMDAR, generating nearly 20,000 daily weather observations (up to 1,200 vertical ‘soundings’ when equated to the weather balloon system) throughout the UK and Western Europe. The system will provide Flybe with expansion opportunities in the areas of volcanic ash sensing and data transmission, as well as on-board Wi-Fi, credit card processing and aircraft data management and communications. This will be possible via the concurrent integration of US-based Avionica’s satLINK integrated communications module.

Andrew Strong noted that the airline would endeavour to make WiFi capabilities available to passengers, but service would be limited to text messages and attachment-free smartphone, tablet or laptop e-mails.

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