The mass cancellations of commercial flight operations across the world may have impacted travellers, but with most of the country’s aircraft grounded on account of the lockdown, there’s an unexpected casualty.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has been left deprived of crucial weather data that it used to receive from flying airplanes. India’s largest airline IndiGo said Tuesday that it had been collaborating with IMD to provide aircraft data on wind, humidity and temperature relayed by various aircraft sensors and this relay of data has been impacted due to the grounding of the fleet.
IMD’s head of climate research and services DS Pai told The Indian Express that the more data that the organisation has, the more accurate is its initial prediction. “There are private flights which voluntarily put their sensors to measure the wind and temperature. There are internationally so many flights. So all of them have take off, cruising and landing data, during which they keep on measuring all the parameters and send it to a central system, which can receive all the data…The more data we have, the more accurate the initial prediction is. So these data includes aircraft data, balloon data, ship data, radar and special observations systems data, together create a better model,” Pai said.
IndiGo has also incorporated a plan for its pilots to report high-level wind and temperature data at different stages of a flight as desired by IMD across all flight operations. The reports by the pilots will capture and share observations at cruising altitude, at midway of the destination, at cruising altitude just before start of descent, at near 10,000 feet, and at near 5,000 feet.
“The data, which is imperative for accurate predictions of weather, has been unavailable to the Indian Meteorological Department since a majority of flights are out of operations due to the nationwide lockdown, coupled with staff constraints,” IndiGo said in a statement. The airline is currently operating cargo flights across the country.
Relying on radars, satellites
Given data from aircraft sensors make a part of the information needed by weathermen, the flight cancellations have forced meteorological departments to rely more on data from radars and satellites.
However, Pai said the problem that hit on account of the flight groundings is now being addressed. “It is a temporary phenomenon. Flights have started from some places internationally. Flights which are voluntarily taking observations are still doing that,” he said. The government announced a lockdown on March 24, along with which scheduled commercial flight operations have been suspended. Since then, however, various private airlines and Air India have been conducting cargo operations across the country and to foreign destinations.
Air India has also started operating passenger flights under the Vande Bharat repatriation mission.
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