Weather: How Matching Flight Plans To Real-Time Weather Can Deliver Safer And More Sustainable Air Travel

Adverse and significant weather events are becoming the norm as global weather patterns change in response to climate change. It follows that planning flight operations along safe and predictable routes has become more complex and demanding. So how can pilots keep up with such variability?

Historically pilots relied on weather charts printed a few hours before the flight. Deep data analysis was needed to understand what weather might be anticipated. Charts improved, with more detailed wind information. Still on paper. METAR and TAF was added – with coded text that forecasts the weather along the route from start to finish.

Pilots needed to assimilate and visualize a wide range of information to predict with any accuracy what lay ahead. In a world of rapidly changing weather patterns, and particularly with mid-haul to long-haul flights, information can rapidly become outdated. The validity of forecasts is compromised further if flights are delayed or disrupted.

Today a number of digital solutions help pilots visualize in four dimensions – that is three dimensional spatial information across time. This enables pilots to understand, for example, where they will be two hours in the future, together with a certainty of the weather they will experience.


These digital solution help pilots build extensive situational awareness of what lies ahead. However, without a standardized approach, there are two potential flaws in this process.

First, some pilots use public weather sources. Many of these are very good. However, for very sound safety reasons, every flight must follow regulations on what weather sources can be used officially for a flight – and some of the public weather sources do not come up the required standard. If pilots rely too heavily on unofficial sources, airlines are unable to have certainty about the information pilots use to keep flights safe.

Second, stakeholders in the flight operational process may use differing sources – risking compromised safety for the flight and operational sustainability.


SITA's eWAS Pilot is designed to help pilots ensure a safe and sustainable flight. eWAS Pilot uses a range of official weather sources – adding additional resource as the reach of the solution grows.

eWAS Pilot is an iPad application that brings those weather sources together and displays them to pilots in one single view. The data can be continuously updated in real time on an iPad using any source of connectivity.

But more than that, eWAS Pilot carries the flight plan and overlays real-time weather information. Linked to eWAS Dispatch, the same information and a very similar display also provides flight dispatchers with the flight tracking and situational awareness tools they need. So pilots and dispatchers in the operations control centre can collaborate more effectively, simply because they are looking at the same information.


The potential benefits from the simple notion of providing real-time weather information overlaid onto flight plans and linking all operational parties together extend to the critical issue of addressing climate change and reducing aviation carbon emissions.

Air transport has set itself the target of decarbonizing by 2050. Operational improvements are expected to deliver up to 10% of that target, through route and flight operations optimization – and eWAS Pilot is delivering towards that objective.

eWAS Pilot now also provides information about potential directs, climb speed and level flight recommendations. Optimization information is provided through SITA OptiFlight® – the world’s first machine-learning based suite of solutions to optimize the efficiency of an aircraft during all flight phases. Using these new data-driven, innovative, and straightforward inflight guidance solutions, SITA can save airlines up to US$1m net a year for a fleet of 20 mixed jet aircraft, while cutting CO2 emissions by thousands of tons.


In a relatively short time, we’ve moved a long way from the days of paper weather forecast maps printed a couple of hours before a flight with limited options for avoiding unexpected weather changes during the journey.

Today pilots can have all the information they need to ensure a predictable, operationally efficient, smooth and safe journey – optimized according to real-time information and tail-specific. A boon for airlines, passengers – and the search for greater sustainability.

Join more than 40,000 pilots actively using eWAS Pilot to gain the ultimate confidence in the air on weather. Contact SITA today to find out how you can plan, predict and perfect your flight operations.

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