Up in the Air

FLYHT Aerospace Solutions is set to help the Canadian government predict the future.

Or, more specifically, the Calgary-based software provider to the aerospace sector is set to help Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) create more accurate weather forecasts.

FLYHT’s enterprise-based solutions to deliver real-time, flight-deck, satellite connectivity for tracking, monitoring, and streaming of operational, maintenance and weather data have been used by airlines, leasing companies and original equipment manufacturers around the globe for more than 20 years.

Recently, ECCC contracted FLYHT to use its innovative software and collect upper air meteorological data from Canadian commercial aircraft for quality testing purposes.

“Because commercial aircraft fly all over – both vertically through the atmosphere and long distances at altitudes where rain, snow, and other events occur – this type of data gathering is superior, and the better the data and the greater the sampling area of that data, the more accurate Environment Canada’s weather forecasts will be,” says Jeff Rex, vice-president of sales and marketing with FLYHT.

Typically, ECCC uses several inputs to build its weather models. One of the more common inputs comes from weather balloons, but the practice is expensive and, by nature, limited to the areas from which the balloons are launched. The project with FLYHT is attempting to overcome that challenge.

The first phase of the $166,000 project was undertaken in the summer of 2019 and saw specialized aircraft meteorological data relay (AMDAR) software tied into FLYHT’s Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) satellite communication system.

The AMDAR data is collected from sensors such as air speed indicators and temperature probes, which are part of the aircraft when it is manufactured. FLYHT’s AFIRS system accessed information from the aircraft data bus and prepared specially encoded AMDAR messages for transmission to the ECCC-Meteorological Service of Canada.

“The data is currently being analyzed and assessed, and Environment Canada will likely make a decision by year-end how many aircraft will be involved in this project moving forward and for how long,” Rex says.

Additional service options for the AMDAR data – and potentially introduction of FLYHT’s Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) – would be to use sensors installed on aircraft to capture additional data such as relative humidity, icing, and turbulence.

“FLYHT’s unique ability to capture, process, and transmit weather data in real-time should be very useful, and we hope to ultimately augment our services with the TAMDAR reporting system,” noted Thomas Schmutz, CEO of FLYHT. “This could supplement the overall weather balloon program, increase forecast accuracy, and reduce overall program costs in the long term.”