'Airport Live' - Behind the scenes at Heathrow Airport

Airport Live

17 June 2013 - A series of live programmes on BBC 2 this week will discover what it takes to keep the world's busiest international airport running, including how weather affects operations every day.

The weather can have a massive impact on airport operations, from a small change in wind direction to a heavy fall of snow, which means that making correct and timely decisions are important to keeping schedules and maintaining safety.  Airport Live will look at how weather affects the day to day operations of the airport and what happens when extreme weather hits.

The Met Office has provided services to Heathrow for some time. Heathrow invited us to work on site, side by side with their operational staff - around the clock, every day of the year. This meant that we quickly gained an understanding of their operations and thresholds that would not have been possible from a different location.

Jon Proudlove, General Manager ATS, Heathrow, said: "The weather can impact significantly on the Heathrow operation. Having the Met Office forecaster embedded within the Operational Efficiency Cell at the Control Tower is without doubt bringing benefit to the ATC operational decision making process.

Our learning around the timely sharing of information continues to develop and I can only see the benefit of the collocated forecaster increasing. For example the decision making around Runway Changes, low visibility operations and the prediction of snow events have all been enhanced."

Ricky Oakes, Winter Resilience Manager at Heathrow, said in an interview for the Radio Times: "We work very closely with the Met Office so we know exactly to the hour when snow or sleet is about to fall, how long for, and the temperatures after the event.

"People will be in their bays one hour before snow is due, so they'll be ready to respond."

The Met Office helps the aviation industry to make vital safety-critical decisions. Our worldwide coverage and accurate, up-to-the-minute advice promotes safety and efficiencies across the entire aviation industry.

As the National Met Service for the UK we provide expert advice and guidance services for the CAA and NATS. The Met Office is one of only two World Area Forecast Centres (WAFC) - the other is WAFC Washington (NOAA). Since 1984, The Met Office WAFC London has provided international forecasting services to meet Annex 3 to the ICAO Convention on Civil Aviation. Our training enables meteorological observers to meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements and can help the aviation industry to better understand and interpret meteorological information, and the impacts of weather on its activities.

The Met Office provides critical weather information in one place so airport operators are alerted of changing conditions, helping them to plan ahead and reduce disruption all year round. We help flight operators and dispatchers optimise operations through efficient planning and anticipation of weather-related delays at airports anywhere in the world.

You can watch Airport Live on BBC 2 8pm to 9pm Monday 17 June to Thursday 20 June 2013 and catch up on BBC iPlayer

Last updated: 17 June 2013