At Qantas there’s only one thing we love to talk about more than aircraft – and that’s the weather.
When you fly to six different continents and more than 55 destinations across Australia, there’s a world of weather to keep an eye on.
That’s why we have our own in-house team of meteorologists in our operations centre.
Whether it’s a blizzard in New York, a volcano eruption in Indonesia or a cyclone nearing Cairns, the Qantas weather team provide up-to-the-minute data for our pilots and airport teams.
Every time our pilots sit down in the cockpit, they can access their ‘weather brief’ – a custom-made forecast especially for their flight, which gets constantly updated based on weather data and the pilots’ own observations (for example, turbulence at particular altitudes – read more about that here).
Modern aircraft are also fitted with radars located in their nose cone, and these keep pilots informed about weather events like thunderstorms about 200 miles ahead of the aircraft.
Making sure we’re across the weather obviously ensures a smooth and safe flight but also helps keep our schedule on track.
Not only are our meteorologists looking at weather conditions in real time all over the world, they also check forecasted weather up to 72 hours before a flight departs.
Dave Berry is one of the five meteorologists who collectively make up the Qantas Metrological (or QMet for short) team.
This means Dave will assess forecasted weather conditions in London and work with the operations and flight teams to decide whether extra fuel is required, in case the aircraft needs to hold over Heathrow or divert to another airport due to anticipated fog (for instance).
Dave constantly scans the globe, making sure every Qantas flight arrives safely and on time.
“We come under the safety umbrella,” Dave says, “whether it’s volcanoes in South America, tsunamis in Asia, thunderstorms at JFK – we need this information on hand, 24/7.”
The monitors on his desk display thunderstorm activity at our most storm-prone ports (think tropical), as well as wind conditions across the Pacific Ocean that can significantly impact flight times and fuel burn.
Dave learned his weather skills during stints with the New Zealand and the Australian Navy, while it’s his main passion, he also has an interest in volcanology.
When he tells people what he does for a living, he’s always asked about forecasts. And, are they always accurate?