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9.30 Weather Services


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Meteorological Authority

Meteorological services for civil aviation in Australia and its territories are provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Area of Responsibility

The area of responsibility of the Australian BoM covers the Australian FIRs and Australian external territories in other FIRs. Meteorological watch for an area or a route is carried out by officers of the BoM by surveillance of all reports for an area or route, with the object of amendment of forecasts and/or the issue of SIGMET and AIRMET advices. Meteorological watch service is provided to the pilot in command through ATS units.

Meteorological Services

Meteorological services are provided by officers of the BoM within the types of meteorological offices listed below:

  1. Aviation Weather Centre (AWC). AWC is located within the National Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre (NMOC) at Melbourne and originates forecasts and warnings for operations above FL100 on domestic air routes and for international operations within the Australian region.
  2. Regional Forecasting Centre (RFC). RFCs are located at State Capital cities. For aviation requirements, RFCs originate and obtain warnings, forecasts and other relevant information for flights with which they are concerned and maintain a meteorological watch over the aerodromes for which they are responsible.
  3. Defence Weather Service Office (DWSO). DWSOs provide forecasts and warnings for at least the local aerodrome. They also supply and display meteorological information and provide briefing and documentation for military aircrew.
  4. Meteorological Watch Office (MWO). MWOs are located within all RFCs and at Canberra and Townsville MOs. They maintain watch over meteorological conditions affecting flight operations in assigned areas and prepare and disseminate SIGMET information relating to these areas.
  5. Meteorological Office (MO). MOs provide a range of observing and forecasting functions. In particular, local aviation forecasting services are offered at Alice Springs, Cairns, Canberra, Rockhampton, Port Hedland, Launceston and Townsville. The primary role of other Meteorological offices is the taking, recording and transmission of surface and upper air observations. They do not provide meteorological briefing services to pilots, but may assist, if required, in explaining the meaning of terms used in forecasts. With prior notice, some of these offices may be able to assist in arranging to have documentation available.
  6. Airport Meteorological Unit (AMU). Currently, the only AMU in Australia is located at Sydney Airport. Its main function is to provide meteorological services for Sydney Airport and support for air traffic services, and users of Sydney Airport. It provides a telephone briefing service only.

Meteorological information is available by telephone and electronic briefing systems from the Brisbane Briefing Office. Documentation is also available by facsimile (see ERSA GEN for details).

METAR, SPECI, TTF and TAF will generally be encoded using the international weather code listed at Section 13. When these messages are passed to pilots verbally, limited plain language will be used. See Section 12 for other details relating to the decoding of aerodrome weather forecasts.

ATS Meteorological Information Service The ATS meteorological information service is contained within the Flight Information Service (FIS) described in GEN 3.3 Section 2.

Aviation Forecasts

These domestic forecasts are issued in narrative form for aircraft operations at or below FL200. They comprise a statement of the general synoptic situation and the meteorological conditions expected to prevail in the designated area. They are prepared and issued for the area as detailed on AUS PCA, at times covering periods set out in para 18.2, using abbreviations detailed in para 18.3.

A route forecast is issued for any part of a planned flight for which a routine area forecast is not prepared.

These forecasts are available from the ATS automated briefing systems and briefing offices listed in ERSA GEN.

Pre-Flight Information Services

The pre-flight information service offers a range of services which are supported by NAIPS. NAIPS contains a database of NOTAM and meteorological information.

The service delivery options for Pre-flight information and flight notification are in, order of preference:

  1. Airservices' web site http://www.airservicesaustralia.com
  2. Direct dial-in pilot access to NAIPS - 0198 304 767
  3. AVFAX (weather and NOTAM only) - 1800 805 150
  4. DECTALK (weather only) - 1800 805 150
  5. Personal Briefing - 1800 805 150 (Military users see ERSA page INTRO 1.)
  6. By radio, where telephone facilities are not available

For meteorological information only:

  1. Civil aviation - Bureau of Meteorology web site http://www.bom.gov.au
  2. Military users - meteorological information can also be obtained from the BoM, Defence Meteorological Support Unit (DMSU) Phone (08) 8920 3860 or 1800 203 860, or web site http://www.bom.gov.au/defence (access details available from DMSU)

National Help Desk

A National Help Desk is available H24 on 1800 801 960.

Airservices' website and direct dial-in pilot access to NAIPS Internet Pre-flight information and flight notification services are available via the Internet. The service is available via the Airservices' home page - http://www.airservicesaustralia.com.

Users are required to be registered. Instruction about obtaining registration, user ID, and passwords are available from the pilot briefing welcome page. User documentation is also available from the pilot briefing welcome page.

Information available via the Internet includes:

  1. Specific Pre-flight Information Briefing (SPFIB)
  2. Full Text NOTAM
  3. Location Briefing
  4. Area Briefing
  5. Special MET Briefing
  6. General MET Forecasts
  7. First light / last light calculations
  8. Wind / Temperature Profile
  9. Retrieve Previous SPFIB
  10. Update SPFIB
  11. Update AVFAX Briefing
  12. GPS RAIM Availability
  13. AVFAX Charts
  14. NAIPS Charts
  15. UTC Time Check
  16. Flight notification using:
    1. Stored Flight File
    2. SPFIB
    3. Flight Notification Form
    4. Domestic / ICAO
    5. SARTIME
    6. NOTE: The Internet does not form part of the ATS operational system. Access to these services is dependent on the normal availability and reliability of the Internet.

Direct Dial-In Pilot Access to NAIPS

Pre-flight information and flight notification services provided by NAIPS include the following:

  1. Pre-flight information:
    1. the use of stored personal flight files, AD HOC briefings, or using Airservices' stored routes for tailored, standard briefings;
    2. update of Pre-flight briefings;
    3. display of original briefings
    4. location, area or route briefings;
    5. general forecasts;
    6. the use of Grid Point data for high level operations;
    7. first and last light calculations.
    8. GPS RAIM (Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring)
  2. Flight notification using:
    1. Stored Flight File
    2. SPFIB
    3. Flight Notification Form
    4. Domestic / ICAO
    5. SARTIME

The above services are available as a menu choice, and on-line help is available for those unfamiliar with the service, by inserting the character "?" in the relevant field. User documentation is available when the software is acquired.

The NAIPS database recognises aerodrome abbreviations, waypoints or common names, when providing SPFIB or for flight notifications. Common names are stored in the NAIPS database in accordance with ERSA conventions.

Retrieval of locations from NAIPS using the common name function requires a correct match with the name. Special cases are as follows:

  1. In the case of two names separated by an oblique stroke, eg. Maroochydore /Sunshine Coast, the location is retrieved by the first common name only.
  2. For locations associated with a capital city aerodrome (eg PERTH/Jandakot, BRISBANE/Archerfield) the location is retrieved by use of the second common name (i.e. Jandakot, Archerfield).
  3. Common names for airspace groups are retrieved by the use of the name plus the word "airspace".
  4. If the common name for a location is in doubt, a search directory is available.


Using an SPFIB, either by request through the briefing offices or via the pilot access facility, will allow retrieval of MET and NOTAM information relevant to the departure, destination and en route locations of a flight, relevant to the planned flight altitude. The SPFIB includes Head Office (Australia General) NOTAM, and for flights above 10000FT, a wind and temperature profile.

An SPFIB briefing, using either a description of the route with turning points (called `ad hoc'), or a stored route of up to ten stages of a flight, can be stored and retrieved as a flight file. The default data from an SPFIB can also be transferred to a flight notification, obviating the need to re-enter the default information.

An SPFIB using a stored route still requires a pilot to ensure that off-track NAVAID information relevant to the flight is included in the briefing, if required. This additional information is provided by requesting "additional locations" as required, once the stored route data is requested.

Pre-flight Briefing - Stored Routes

What is Received When a Low Level Stored Route is used:

  1. Low level stored routes are for briefings up to FL200. Low routes are prefixed with ` L' followed by a number. A list of stored routes can be retrieved when using pilot access by inserting a question mark in the route field prompt and pressing the `enter' key.
  2. SPFIBs generated from low level stored routes will contain:
    1. Head Office NOTAM;
    2. AIP SUP summary;
    3. FIR NOTAM relevant to the route;
    4. MET and NOTAM for departure and destination;
    5. NOTAM on PRD areas within 50NM radius of departure and destination;
    6. NOTAM for all locations within 50NM either side of track, except surface NOTAM;
    7. Area forecasts, Area QNH, AIRMET, SIGMET, AIREP special, relevant to the route;
    8. MET warning messages; and
    9. Wind and Temperature profile defined from processed meteorological data in the form of grid point values expressed in binary form (GRIB) (for flights above 10000FT).

When an Ad Hoc SPFIB is requested by describing the route:

  1. Where a stored route is not available or not required, an SPFIB can be obtained by entering the departure, destination, and by describing the route as being direct (DCT), or by entering the turning points up to a maximum of 30.
  2. Using this method, SPFIB will automatically contain:
    1. Head Office NOTAM;
    2. AIP SUP summary;
    3. MET and NOTAM for the departure and destination;
    4. NOTAM on nominated turning points;
    5. NOTAM on PRD areas within 50NM radius of departure and destination, except where the departure and/or destination is entered as a Latitude and Longitude, in which case no PRD areas are included;
    6. AIREP Special relating to nominated turning points; and
    7. Area forecasts, Area QNH, AIRMET, SIGMET, AIREP special, relevant to the route;
    8. Wind and Temperature profile based on GRIB data for flights above 10000FT.
  3. Note that FIR NOTAM, PRD NOTAM and ARFOR relating to the route are not automatically included using this method. These must be specified as additional information requirements.
  4. Area FIR NOTAM. Sub-FIR codes are coincident with the ARFOR boundaries and are made up of the prefix "7" followed by a 2 digit ARFOR code and a trailing "0". For example, to obtain FIR NOTAM for Area 40 ARFOR area, enter 7400.


(Meteorological and NOTAM Facsimile Service)

AVFAX is a self help system which delivers meteorological and NOTAM information, including charts, from NAIPS, to a nominated facsimile number, in response to a tone generated telephone request. Each AVFAX briefing contains a reference number which can be quoted to the briefing office or in-flight to obtain an update on the original briefing. Additional information and user instructions follow later in this FIS Pre-flight Section of ERSA.


(Automated Meteorological Telephone Briefing)

DECTALK is a self help system which delivers meteorological information on the telephone, using a computer generated voice, in response to a tone generated telephone request. Additional information and user instructions follow later in this FIS Pre-flight Section of ERSA.