Applied International Aviation Meteorology


Influence of Weather on Fuel Efficiency and Safety

Fuel prices have sky rocketed in recent with airlines and militaries around the world rigorously seeking ways to minimise fuel consummation in efforts to save money.  In addition to innovative ways to reduce weight, a skilful exploitation of weather (i.e., utilising the jetstream, minimising diversions) will also provide significant savings in fuel.  In addition to fuel savings, improved knowledge of weather will also lead to other financial savings.  As an example, NASA’s Aviation Safety program estimates the cost to the airlines from encounters with turbulence runs more than $100 million (USD) a year,* with one airline estimating that each encounter of severe turbulence costs an average of $750,000 (USD).  In addition to the direct costs, an encounter with adverse weather may result in flight deviations, fuel wastage, passenger inconvenience, and possible passenger accommodations and expenses.  Besides financial considerations, an improved knowledge of weather can also improve safety.  In addition to accidents and fatalities, there are numerous injuries to flight crews and passengers due to weather occurrences (e.g. turbulence) each year.  For example, NASA’s Aviation Safety programme estimates that airlines encounter severe turbulence nine times a month, resulting in an average of 24 injuries per month.* 


Weather is not just important to pilots and cabin crews; it is of utmost importance to the safety of ramp workers, baggage handlers, and others - particularly in regards to high winds, severe weather, and lightning.  Weather is also a major consideration for airport operators, and air traffic services with it impacting traffic capacity in the airspace system during all phases of flight, and placing increased workload on controllers to manage the safety of aircraft and traffic flow through the airspace system.  As an example of the impact of weather on the air traffic system, some studies (including one by the US National Research Council in 1995) showed 40 to 65 percent of delays experienced by US domestic airlines were attributable to adverse weather, at an annual cost estimated in the range of $4 to 5 billion (USD).  Recent figures cited by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in 2005 showed weather accounted for 76 per cent of all air traffic delays in 2004.  With current projections, the impact will only increase with commercial air traffic predicted to increase three to four times over the next 10 to 20 years.  


Course Objectives


Calls for improved meteorology training and weather interpretation skills, at all levels and areas of the aviation industry, have become more frequent as the result of the numerous studies and investigations of weather occurrences.  With the rapid development of technologies, improved scientific understanding, advancements in weather forecasting processes, dissemination and presentation of weather related data in the last 20 years, there is an increasing need to improve training programmes beyond that of the 1960s to take into account these recent changes.  This course will improve knowledge of meteorology and develop practical interpretation skills of traditional and modern technologies, including numerical weather prediction models, with an international focus.  The course is aimed to encourage participants to develop a systematic method of assessment of weather trends and forecasting; a method that has a scientific basis but one which can also be applied to real-time situations where there are heavy workloads and severe time constraints.

Who should attend?

Pilots and dispatchers, supervisors, and training personnel of airlines, air charter, freight and cargo services, military, corporate, and government flight operations.

Participant Prerequisites

It is assumed that all participants have a satisfactory knowledge of material set out in their country’s ATPL meteorology syllabus (i.e., FAA, Transport Canada, JAA, Australian CASA, South African CAA) or its equivalent for military personnel.


Course Outline

This is an operational course and will embed interpretation of satellite, ground radar, analysis charts (i.e., surface, 500 hPa), METARs, TAFs, TTFs, Numerical Weather Prediction models, and Aerological diagrams (i.e., Skew-T) for greater understanding and application in flight operations. Real examples from accidents and incident, and significant weather events will also be used.

Day One:


  Cost of Weather in Aviation

 Weather Hazards

 Weather Risk Control Systems (Wx-RCS)

  Decision Making and Human Factors Considerations in Long-Haul Operations

 Introduction to Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP)

 Weather Analysis and Self-briefing Procedure and Checklist

 Conducting Weather Briefings

 Low Ceilings and Obstructions Visibility


Day Two:


  Thunderstorm Primer



Severe thunderstorms (including Case Studies)


Air mass Thunderstorms


Multicell Thunderstorms


Supercell Thunderstorms


Gust Fronts, Microbursts and Marcobursts


Lightning and Hail


Prediction of Convective Winds


Operational Application of Aerological Diagrams


Operational Application of Stability Indices

Day Three:

  Turbulence (Low-Level, Turbulence In and Near Thunderstorms, Mountain Waves)

  Low Level Wind Shear



Day Four:


  High Altitude Meteorology



Upper Level Winds and Temperatures


Jet streams - Northern Hemisphere


Jet streams - Southern Hemisphere


Clear Air Turbulence


  Group Weather Flight Planning Exercise - International Flight using live data (including giving a Weather Briefing)


Day Five:


  Participants’ analysis of the accuracy of the pervious day’s Wx exercise (including giving a Weather Briefing)

 Analysis of Weather Events using archived data (including giving a Weather Briefing)

Take Home



Comprehensive course notebook


Operational examples and solutions


Flight Planning checklists and algorithms


Certification of completion


Course Duration, Location and Tuition

Course Duration: 5 days.

Fee: $2100.00 USD

Location: Various locations – In-house available.


All Dutcher SMS courses can be delivered to your offices and tailored to your organisation's needs. If you have a group of 5 or more individuals for this course, please contact us and we will provide you with information about bringing this course to your offices at a time convenient for you and your staff. For courses delivered in the United Kingdom, all prices are in UK Pounds (GBP).  For courses delivered in all other European countries, all prices are in Euros. For delivery in other countries, please contact us.


Regular Facilitators: John Dutcher and Martin Babakhan


For More Information

Download Course Brochure:

Short Course in Applied International Aviation Meteorology (114 kb)

Related Courses:

Weather Risk Management

Forensic Aviation Meteorology


* Adams, C (2001, Aug). Tackling Turbulence.  Defense Daily Network. Retrieved March 24, 2005 from URL:

  Collaborative Decision Making (CDM). (unknown date). Severe Turbulence and Severe Icing. NAS Status Information Subgroup Memo. Unknown, United States of America: CDM. Retrieved March 24, 2005 from URL:

© Dutcher Safety & Meteorology Services (2003-2008)
Last Updated: 10 Apr 08