Part 3: Listening comprehension

Part 3: Listening comprehension

Listen to part 1 of this recording about weather and aviation, then answer these questions:

  1. According to the report, apart from pilots, which other aviation professionals need up to date and accurate weather reports?
  2. What are the two main reasons why they need this information?
  3. The dispatcher will use wind data to do three different things. What are they?
  4. According to the report, what conditions are you unlikely to encounter
    • In Delhi?
    • When departing Heathrow?
  5. When did the ICAO develop a standard format for METARs?
  6. What does METAR stand for?
  7. When was the current form of the METAR adopted?
  8. What three methods of making surface weather observations are used to compile METARs?

Transcript – Part 1

Accurate and up to date weather information is important for pilots, air traffic controllers and dispatchers for two primary reasons: safety and economy. Your pilots must ensure that conditions are safe for flying.

The air traffic controllers assist in navigating around potentially hazardous weather. And the dispatcher who planned your flight used wind data to plan the route, decide how much fuel to load and how high you should fly. These are some of the most significant condition that could affect your flight, depending on where you’re flying to or from, of course – you’re unlikely to run into a blizzard landing in Dubai. Volcanic ash is not a concern when departing Heathrow. There are limitless different manifestations and combinations of these weather elements.

Due to the complex nature of weather systems, ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, developed a standardised format in January 1968, so that weather conditions could be concisely communicated and understood worldwide. This format is called METAR, the Meteorological Terminal Aviation Routine weather report – you can see why an acronym is required. They are usually issued every hour from stations around the globe, primarily at airports.

In 1996, the METAR format was updated to its current form, as laid out in the World Meteorological Organization handbook called Aerodrome Reports and Forecasts. METARs are based on surface weather observations, which can be recorded manually by an observer, by computer through the use of automated weather stations or in a hybrid scheme, using weather observers to augment the otherwise automated weather station.

Part 2 will talk you through the different parts of a METAR, based on one specific example. Listen to the recording and then complete with the relevant data:

Part A

  1. Station identifier:
    Where is this?
  2. Day of the month:
    Which month was it?
  3. Time stamp:
    Why is it called Zulu time so called?
  4. Wind speed:
  5. Wind direction:
  6. Gusts:
  7. Visibility:
  8. First layer of cloud:
  9. Height above ground level:
  10. Second layer of cloud:
  11. Height above ground level:
  12. Temperature:
  13. Dew point:
  14. QNH:

Part B
Use your answers, above (or listen again) to fill in the gaps and complete the METAR

YS_ _ 24_ _ _ _ _ 15010_ _ _ _ _ 8SM -TSRA SCT100_ _ OVC250 _ _ / _ _ Q_ _ _ _

Transcript – Part 2

Here is an example METAR string. YSSY is the station identifier for the airport that the METAR applies to in this case, Sydney airport. The next section gives us information about when this METAR was published. The 24 tells us which day of the month it was published, in this case the 24th October. 0700Z is a time stamp in co-ordinated universal time. In aviation Zulu time is the universal standard, the Z standing for Zero hours, the time zone designator for UTC. The next section tells us the wind on the ground at Sydney airport.

In this case the wind is blowing at 10kts from 150 degrees of azimuth. There are also wind gusts of up to 15kts. 8SM indicates a visibility of 8 statute miles. TSRA stands for thunderstorms and rain. The minus modifier “minus” indicates that the rain is light. The next two parts denote the two observable cloud layers. The first layer is a scattered layer with bases at 10000ft above ground level. The CB suffix indicates that it is a cumulonimbus or thunderstorm cloud. The second layer is an overcast layer at 25000ft. 18 and 06 refer to the temperature and dew point, respectively. And Q1016 is the atmospheric pressure, adjusted to sea level, in this case, 1016 millibars.

Full METAR: YSSY 240700Z 15010G15KT 8SM -TSRA SCT100CB OVC250 18/06 Q1016

Radiotelephony exercise

Listen to the following exchange between a Danish pilot and French ATS and then answer the following questions:

  1. What is the aircraft type and registration?
  2. What is its position relative to Arras?
  3. What is the QNH at this point?
  4. What transponder / squawk code does the ATS give the pilot?
  5. The ATS tells the pilot that there is, “an advancing squall line”. What does this mean?
  6. Where is the squall line relative to Paris?
  7. What other weather problem have pilots reported?
  8. What frequency is the pilot given for Amiens?
  9. When the pilot contacts Amiens, what altitude and QNH does he give?
  10. What is the pilot told about runway 30?
  11. What is the first wind direction that the pilot is given?
  12. And the wind strength (including gusts)?
  13. What is the second wind direction (surface wind) that the pilot is given?
  14. What is the wind strength this time (including gusts)?

PIL: Lille information from OY-DUD, Mooney M20, from Calais to Pontoise, currently abeam Arras at 2500ft QNH 1002

ATS: OY-DUD squawk 4215

PIL: Squawk 4215 OY-DUD

ATS: O-UD radar identified. Are you aware of the deteriorating weather conditions to the north of Paris?

PIL: I took the latest weather when leaving Calais O-UD

ATS: O-UD be advised there is an advancing squall line to the north of Paris, pilots reporting severe localized thunderstorms

PIL: Roger, I will divert to Amiens O-UD

ATS: O-UD roger, contact Amiens on 123.4

PIL: Amiens on 123.4, thanks, O-UD

PIL: Amiens from OY-DUD, Mooney M20 from Calais diverting to your field due to weather. Currently at 2000ft QNH 1002 to the north of your field.

ATS: OY-DUD runway 30 in service, latest wind 170 degrees 15 knots gusting 20 knots

PIL: Runway 30 in use, will report final runway 30, OY-DUD

PIL: OY-DUD final runway 30 for a full stop

ATS: Surface wind 180 degrees 15 knots gusting 22 knots

PIL: Roger O-UD