"Gatwick Airport Airfield Operations Department can anticipate weather situations that may affect its ability to handle up to 900 aircraft movements in a day by using WeatherWindows." Gary Smith, Airfield Duty Manager at Gatwick Airport
Gatwick airport is the world's busiest single runway airport, with over 242,000 aircraft movements and 34 million passengers travelling through it every year. Any delay can cause extensive knock on effects to the smooth running of the airport.
With only a single runway it is important for Gatwick to plan ahead for any maintenance and resurfacing work to make sure the airport operates at maximum efficiency at all times.
The Met Office has provided Gatwick with the OpenRunway service for some time, but in 2011 we went to Gatwick with the concept of a new service called WeatherWindows. WeatherWindows is an innovative planning tool enabling decision makers to plan weather dependent tasks up to 15 days ahead.
Over the winter of 2011, Gatwick trialled the prototype providing feedback for improvements. In 2012 Gatwick took the complete service in conjunction with OpenRunway providing them with a seamless weather forecasting system.
Gatwick has set up several tasks and alerts within the system. These enable them to monitor the weather conditions for specific activities at the airport, from surface friction runs to operating their visual Northern Runway, or alerting them of severe weather such as snow that would cause major disruption to their operations.
By using the tasks and alerts set up in WeatherWindows, Gatwick has been able to make decisions quickly and with confidence, which was particularly beneficial over the 2012/13 winter. During a typical winter of five snow events, where snow is falling and accumulating at the airport, Gatwick is able to place staff on call only when the risk of disruption is possible. This enables Gatwick to control costs.
WeatherWindows also makes it possible for Gatwick to anticipate large snowfalls and major disruption and place contractors with tippers and loaders on call or bring them to the airport in advance of any disruption. Frost and ice warnings enable the airfield duty manager to anticipate conditions that could lead to freezing conditions and ensure that there is sufficient stock of anti-icing fluid.
Last updated: 6 May 2014