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PECASUS Global Space Weather Center for aviation started its 24/7 operations

PECASUS Global Space Weather Center for aviation started its 24/7 operations today 7-Nov, 2019 at noon UTC. PECASUS led by FMI comprises ICAO member states Finland, Belgium, UK, Austria, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Cyprus, South Africa.

The ICAO space weather service is implemented by joint operation of three global SWX centers (PECASUS. SWPC, ACFJ), with each center providing the service for 2 weeks in turn. One center is always on duty while the two other centers are providing back-up service. The ICAO space weather service was started by PECASUS to be followed by NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) and thereafter by the consortium of Australia, Canada, France and Japan (ACFJ).

The ICAO space weather service starts at the time of solar activity minimum and hence calm space weather conditions prevail. Intensive solar storms may still take place during the years of solar activity minimum, so the SWX centers are on alert all the time. During the next few years the solar activity is expected to increase substantially with the approaching sunspot maximum.


First global space weather service center meeting hosted by FMI

The first ever Council of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) MET panel meeting was hosted by FMI (10 – 12 Sep, 2019) to coordinate the ICAO designated global space weather service centers.

The three ICAO global Space weather Centers PECASUS Consortium, NOAA/SWPC and ACFJ had a coordination meeting at FMI in Helsinki. The meeting was attended by scientists from Australia, Canada, Belgium, U.K., South Africa and France, as well as from ICAO regional centers Russia and China.  Brent Gordon (SWPC/USA) and Ari-Matti Harri (FMI) acted as chairmen, with the success of the meeting being also strongly contributed by Kari Österberg (FMI) and Kirsti Kauristie (FMI). During the event, FMI 24/7 weather and security services were introduced by Anssi Vähämäki, Tiera Laitinen and Antti Kokko.

ICAO designated three global space weather service centers to provide civil aviation with information on space weather that has the potential to affect communications, navigation and the health of passengers and crew.

In November 2018, the PECASUS (Pan-European Consortium for Aviation Space weather User Service) consortium led by FMI was selected to become one of the centers due to its high quality performance and successful and strong international work. The headquarters of the center is placed in FMI.

The countries forming the PECASUS consortium are Finland (Lead), Belgium, UK, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Poland, South Africa and Cyprus. Two other global centers are SWPC by the United States and ACFJ –consortium of Australia, Canada, France and Japan. The global centers will start their official operations in November 2019.

PECASUS panel session on new Space Weather Service Provision for Aviation

The PECASUS team introduced the new space weather services by ICAO in the World ATM Congress in Madrid, Spain, in mid-March 2019. Interested congress participants were briefed at the PECASUS stand with discussions, leaflets and slides. In addition, a panel discussion was arranged On 12th March at the FABEC OPS Theatre in the Congress Exhibition area. Approximately 50 persons attended the 50 minute session.

Aim of the panel was:

  • to introduce the concept of space weather hazards to the wider audience;
  • to collect ideas and feedback on how the airspace users view the new services and what operational impact they may have; and
  • to increase awareness of space weather – the phenomena, observation and forecast methods, products for aviation, producing centres and impacts for airspace users.

The session was moderated by Mr. Jan Sondij, of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). The panellists were Dr Kirsti Kauristie (FMI), Mr. Dennis Hart (EUROCONTROL) and Mr. Klaus Sievers (IFALPA). I her presentation Dr Kauristie told what space weather is, and what the space weather advisories look like. Mr. Hart informed the audience on the history and current status of the service provision within ICAO, in his capacity as ICAO MET Panel Member. Mr. Sievers provided the pilot’s view on space weather. The panel discussions were opened by Mr. Gavin Dixon (NATS), who informed the audience on the experience of the Shanwick Oceanic centre with space weather.

The outcome of the panel session is summarized below:

  • A need was expressed:
    • to raise more awareness of space weather information service provision;
    • to provide basic education for pilots, dispatchers, and ATC staff on space weather effects and space weather advisories;
    • to provide guidance for users on how to act upon space weather advisories and include into the operations manuals for pilots, dispatch and controllers.
  • To advise the ICAO MET Panel to continue to interact with other ICAO panels in order to develop provisions and guidance further; and,
  • To provide user feedback e.g. via the PECASUS website.

 Text by: Jan Sondij and Kirsti Kauristie

PECASUS has been selected to become one of the three global space weather service providers for ICAO

In its 215th Session (29 Oct – 16 Nov, 2018) the Council of International Civil Aviation Organization has designated three global space weather service centers to be operated by the PECASUS consortium, by United States and by the consortium of Australia, Canada, France and Japan. In addition the Council agreed that two regional centers, comprising South Africa and the China/Russian Federation consortium, will be established no later than November 2022.

More (in Finnish):

PECASUS leaflet and factcheets published

PECASUS factsheets and leaflet have been published and are available in our Dissemination website. 

The page contains three files, one two page overall PECASUS leaflet and two editions of the factsheet. First factsheet is one page and the second one is similar including the introductions of all consortium members All files are in PDF-format and you can copy, print and share them freely.