The UK's role in supporting the World Area Forecast System
The UK has accepted responsibility for providing data and products that support the World Area Forecast System (WAFS), operating the World Area Forecast Centre (WAFC) London
There are two WAFCs, one located at the Met Office in Exeter (but officially known as WAFC London) and the US National Weather Service at Kansas City (but officially known as WAFC Washington) which both produce global forecasts for en-route weather flight planning and in-flight re-planning. Each centre provides backup to the other WAFC to ensure continuity of service provision, and regular end to end tests of backup capability are carried out.
WAFC forecasts comprise a description of winds, temperatures, relative humidity, tropopause levels, maximum wind at tropopause on a 1.25 deg by 1.25 deg grid, giving a resolution of 140km at mid-latitudes, at 3-hourly intervals out to 36 hours after the time of the synoptic data on which the forecasts were based.
Although some significant weather charts are produced that describe items such as where jet streams are forecast to be located, predicted areas of turbulence, icing and cumulonimbus clouds, in industry standard graphics format, for backup purposes, the primary means of dissemination of this information is digital data, allowing users, operators and service providers to generate their own specific documentation or, alternatively, feed the data directly into Flight Management Systems, Electronic Flight Bags or Optimised Route Calculators.
The Met Authority ensures that all aspects of the service meets all required standards, including timeliness and data quality, as well as seeking equitable cost recovery for the service.