New reliable meteorological equipment for flight safety

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Installment of new automated meteorological monitoring equipment has been completed at the Šiauliai Aviation Base of the Air Force of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The new system will replace the equipment used at the Aviation Base since its establishment. The modern meteorological sensors and devices will offer more possibilities to meteorologists, providing more precise data to aircraft crews, which is of utmost importance not only to the Air Force and NATO air-policing missions, but also to civilian flights. The equipment estimated at LTL 1.8 million was supplied and set up by the electronic engineering solutions company Fima, which had won a tender called by the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

“The newly installed solutions will allow very precise calculations of the meteorological conditions at the airport and its surroundings and rapid compilation of factual weather forecasts, which are vital for pilots of fighter airplanes, cargo or passenger aircrafts,” says Lieutenant Colonel Audronis Navickas, commander of the Aviation Base.

In the framework of the project, two meteorological fields with special equipment were fitted out, meteorological devices and sensors were mounted in several locations along the runway and a few on the runway. The equipment will gather data about air temperature and humidity, wind direction and speed, visibility on the runway, meteorological (horizontal) visibility, cloud altitude, atmospheric pressure, amount and type of precipitation, intensity of meteorological trends, lightning, runway surface conditions, etc. A total of 23 various sensors and devices were set up next to and on the runway.

The equipment was purchased from the leading manufacturer of meteorological observation equipment. Users of analogous equipment include the majority of airports around the globe including military airports in Italy, Germany and Poland, as well as Egypt, Cuba, Ireland, Iceland, Indonesia, etc.

Fima Project Manager Marius Babachinas says some of the sensors are designed for functions that the earlier equipment was not capable of. For instance, the new devices allow determining with precision of a few hundred metres the location of lightning and thunder or the direction of movement of the elements. Meter of solar radiation is another new item that collects data of importance to the Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service, which monitors the radiation on a regular basis. The sensors on the runways registering the condition of the surface are also significant. Such data was not registered by the earlier devices.

The new equipment is more precise due to its technical characteristics – for instance, up until now, the speed and direction of wind were measured by scoop anemometers similar to windmills. From now on, meteorologists will use equipment operating on ultrasound sensors.

The central computer was mounted in the flight control tower to collect data from sensors and devices installed outside. Workplaces for operators were also equipped, along with workstations for weather forecasting staff and service personnel.

The new automated meteorological monitoring equipment can be connected to the terminal of automated airport information service. This is planned for the future in cooperation with specialists of the State Enterprise Oro Navigacija. This will allow automated transmission of information about meteorological conditions at the airport and its surroundings to aircraft crews.

The automated meteorological equipment has been connected to the signal light system of the runway earlier mounted by Fima – the data of the light system are used for calculation of meteorological visibility indicators.

The information provided by the automated meteorological equipment of the Šiauliai military airport about meteorological conditions at the airport and surrounding territories will be forwarded to global banks of meteorological data, other airports in Lithuania and the Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service, which operates meteorological stations across the country to observe and register weather conditions in Lithuania and make national weather forecasts.