WICAP Summary Concept of Operations

WMO-IATA Collaborative AMDAR Programme (WICAP)

 Summary Concept of Operations

(Version: Draft 2, 4 April 2019)



WMO and IATA propose to enter into a collaboration for the purposes of managing and evolving the global AMDAR Programme (the Programme),  expanding it to provide coverage in areas of the globe where data voids currently exist. This collaboration will also lower overall combined costs to WMO members and leverage the reach of IATA into the global aviation industry to recruit new airlines. Furthermore, IATA will serve as a focal point for commercialization of AMDAR data to private sector weather entities, thereby providing a source of revenue for Programme operations and expansion.

The proposed collaboration will leverage the regional structure of WMO and the WIGOS concept to coordinate Programme operations and development on a regional level, further reducing costs to individual, participating WMO members.

This document provides a summary of the full and detailed “Concept of Operations” and describes the principles and proposed operational, financial and governance framework under which the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will collaborate on the future operation of the WMO Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) Programme.

More detail and information on all aspects of the proposed operation of WICAP can be found in the full WICAP Concept of Operations, available as an Information Document in English only at the following location:


All terms and acronyms not otherwise defined in this document have the meaning set out under the full WICAP Concept of Operations.


AMDAR is based on the automated measurement and transmission of meteorological data from an aircraft platform. These data make an important contribution to the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS) and are of high value to the global meteorological community, in particular for their contribution to increased accuracy of numerical weather prediction, with downstream benefits to all users of weather forecasts, including aviation.

Whilst the Programme has been successfully growing and functioning in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania, there remain significant areas, such as Northern and Central Africa, Eastern Europe, Western and Central Asia, the Southwest Pacific and the Middle East, where coverage is limited. One of the reasons for this is limited funding available in these regions for Programme expansion.

Although results from individual NWP centres vary, on average the combination of wind and temperature observations included in AMDAR reports now constitute one of the most important observational data sources for global NWP, comparable to radiosondes in their impact, and overall contribute an average reduction in the 24 hour forecast error of the order of 10 per cent. AMDAR data also have a very high level of utility across a range of different forecast and warning systems.

Acknowledging the benefits of AMDAR data, IATA and WMO propose to jointly work on expanding the Programme to new geographical areas whilst giving participating airlines better control over, and access to the data they provide to the Programme. The WMO-IATA Collaborative AMDAR Programme (WICAP) will develop and establish the cooperation intended to achieve these objectives.

Issues to be Addressed

Acknowledging that AMDAR makes a very significant contribution to the global observations programme, it is also recognised that the existing programme has a number of limitations which, if addressed, could significantly increase its value.

While national AMDAR programmes have been operating in various parts of the world for more than 20 years, they have generally operated independently of each other, with their own differing requirements and methods of recruiting participating airlines. Although lack of funding is recognised as one of the primary reasons for a lack of expansion of the Programme and the existence of large, data-sparse areas, there are a number of other issues that, if addressed, would be expected to greatly improve the efficiency of the Programme and facilitate a more rapid and better-planned expansion and enhancement of the Programme globally.

In summary, the key issues that WICAP would aim to improve or resolve are:

     Significant variation in costs across data providers;

     Difficulties convincing airlines of the benefits of the Programme, and the requirements for their participation;

     Barriers to integrating AMDAR data use into airline operations;

     Difficulties in coordinating and securing sustainable funding to support AMDAR development in data-sparse areas and in developing and least developed countries;

     A fragmented, national approach to the coordination of requirements for AMDAR data by NMHSs;

     Inconsistency and lack of awareness of data policy arrangements, and data management and security procedures;

     Low visibility of AMDAR and its requirements for operation among IATA partners, suppliers and application developers; and

     Slow progress towards the wider implementation of water vapour and turbulence measurement to meet user requirements.

Aims of WICAP

To address the issues outlined above, and to maximise the benefits of AMDAR to the global community, WICAP has the following aims:

1)   Expanded and enhanced global aircraft-based observation data coverage that will contribute to meeting the national, regional and global requirements for upper-air observations under the WMO Rolling Review of Requirements, including focusing on efforts to extend water vapour and turbulence measurements globally;

2)   Implementation of a more efficient and simplified process for airlines to join and contribute to the Programme;

3)   Improved processes for the establishment and provision of requirements for AMDAR data by NMHSs and data users, based primarily on the WMO Rolling Review of Requirements and as a component system contributing to the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS);

4)   Implementation of a sustainable funding mechanism and proposed regional structure to support AMDAR operations and expansion that will also facilitate participation by least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS);

5)   Introduction of a simplified, equitable and centralized costing and remuneration system for AMDAR operations and development, based on more efficient and economic solutions for infrastructure and operational services;

6)   Establishing a more efficient business relationship between AMDAR Programme operators (NMHSs), data users, data providers and other stakeholders;

7)   More secure, consistent and better defined AMDAR data ownership and management practices;

8)   Increased efficiency of the global AMDAR Programme derived from improved recognition and better integration of AMDAR with the aviation industry; and

9)   More extensive and improved use of AMDAR data in support of meteorology, aviation and the wider community.

In meeting these aims, the implementation of WICAP will address the issues identified with the current Programme, while at the same time efficiently increasing and extending the benefits to both meteorology and aviation.

WICAP Description

WICAP is underpinned by a partnership between WMO and IATA, with each partner playing complementary roles based on their organisational capabilities and responsibilities.

Under WICAP, the operation of a number of aspects of the AMDAR Programme will become more centralised, including the establishment of requirements for data, the establishment of agreements, the processing of AMDAR data and the sharing of programmatic costs and infrastructure by the WMO Members choosing to participate in the Programme. Requirements will be gathered and analysed by WMO Regional Associations, with airline partnerships and data processing functions to be coordinated at the Regional level also. This programmatic structure is depicted in Figure 3 and is described in more detail below in the section on Roles and Responsibilities.

While requirements for AMDAR data will remain primarily focused on national needs, WICAP will put in place a more formalized process for ensuring that they will also be consolidated at the regional and global levels through the WMO Rolling Review of Requirements and under the Regional Basic Observing Networks (RBON) and the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON).

The implementation and maintenance of the Global AMDAR Data Optimisation System (G-ADOS) will ensure that national, regional and global requirements for AMDAR data are optimally and efficiently met through the automated, ground-based control of data production. The G-ADOS will be maintained as a WIGOS Centre and resourced under WICAP, supported by Regional contributions.

The regional operational structure is depicted below in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1 - Overview of WICAP operations. Arrows either indicate data flow (right panel)
or process flow (left panel).

Through a formalised process coordinated by WICAP and implemented through the establishment of RA working groups and WICAP Operator Centres established by WMO Members under the authority of Regional Associations, the requirements will be addressed through a regional planning and resource mobilisation process and the shared resourcing of regional data processing centres. Plans will be implemented with participating and newly recruited airlines in collaboration with IATA.

The proposed future Regional WIGOS Centre structure, designed to be flexible and extensible to accommodate the varying operational requirements across WMO Regions, is depicted in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Figure 2 – Proposed Regional and Global WIGOS Centre structure to support WICAP.
Arrows indicate assistance, oversight, agreement and/or resource flow.

WICAP will establish the principles to support secure data management and a consistent data policy that will clearly establish the original data ownership by the airlines, while ensuring that products derived from the use of AMDAR data would be owned by the NMHSs, in accordance with their national policies and regulations. Data would continue to be available to all WMO Members on the WMO Information System in accordance with WMO Resolutions and Technical Regulations and, as such, the proposed policy is fully in accordance with Resolution 40 and other relevant technical regulations.

The proposed data policy further defines limited data rights as they pertain to authorized third parties such as research entities, and to licensed third parties in the commercial sector.  IATA is designated as the non-exclusive entity for the commercialization of AMDAR data to licensed third parties. 

The data policy and other necessary and agreed legal aspects of the Programme will be established under an agreement framework, based primarily on an updated Working Arrangement between IATA and WMO that initially establishes WICAP. Standardized agreement templates would be developed by WICAP in order to facilitate the legal arrangements between WMO Operators and partner airlines in the Programme, and between WMO Operators and participating NMHSs for its resourcing.

WICAP Benefits and Justification

One of the key benefits of IATA’s participation will be an expected increase in the number of participating airlines and NMHSs. It is anticipated that through advocacy on behalf of the programme, IATA will make it easier for additional airlines to be recruited and, clearly, increasing airline participation is fundamental to expanding global AMDAR Programme data coverage. IATA can facilitate the provision of a much better and more widely understood business case and justification for participation of airlines in AMDAR, leaving WMO to concentrate its efforts and resources on data management and the provision of data to users,  weather applications and service providers.

The global and regional approach of WICAP will allow the Programme to grow much more rapidly and efficiently than under the current, largely national approach while at the same time enabling a significant reduction in overall operating costs. Improved visibility and understanding of the Programme, its operation and benefits is expected to lead to a greater willingness of both NMHSs and airline partners to contribute and participate in it. 

The benefits of such an approach have been demonstrated through the European E-AMDAR Programme (operated by EUMETNET) which, since 2000, has taken a regional, international approach to meeting requirements for AMDAR data - with just one management team and one data processing centre to serve the sub-region. This has meant that specific airlines can be targeted to best meet the regional requirements and, with funding shared, the cost to individual NMHSs is much less than it would cost to maintain an individual national AMDAR programme.

The WICAP data policy will provide airlines with the necessary assurances that their data rights will be protected and used in their best interests. A formalised and agreed data policy, coupled with improved data management and security under the WICAP framework, will benefit all stakeholders in the Programme.

Improved and better coordinated data management and better quality assured data will also lead to improved access to AMDAR data, including to airlines and third party data users, meaning a greater positive impact on meteorological forecasting applications, improved forecast products and services and ultimately more efficient and safer flight operations.

A financial analysis of the difference in costs of operating WICAP compared to continuing with individual national programmes, clearly demonstrates the reduced overall costs and efficiencies that are possible based on a collaborative, regional approach. In summary, by doubling the participation in AMDAR from the current 40 airlines to the anticipated expanded Programme with around 80 airlines, the regional approach to AMDAR operations under WICAP would be expected to reduce both the overall operating and developmental costs to WMO Members by  over 50%. A significant component of this saving derives from taking advantage of the opportunity to significantly reduce data communication costs through international data optimisation and centralised contracting with data service providers.

Additional specific advantages include:

     Sharing of centralized (regional and global) infrastructure and other operational costs;

     Optimising the number of airlines and aircraft required at the regional and global levels to most efficiently meet requirements for AMDAR observations;

     A smaller number of regional data processing centres, making it simpler and easier to secure access to data;

     AMDAR data coverage can be optimised nationally, regionally and globally, readily allowing data to be produced for specific purposes and applications,

A structured approach to engagement with airline partners through IATA will allow a much better and more widely understood business case and justification for participation of airlines in AMDAR, leaving WMO to concentrate its efforts and resources on data management and provision of data to users, weather applications and service providers. This centralised approach to agreements between Programme partners would have the following advantages and benefits:

The WICAP data policy would provide airline partners with confidence to join the Programme, knowing that their interests are protected and assured:

     Whenever possible, agreements between WICAP Operators and participating airlines would allow the direct transfer of data from the aircraft to the operator, reducing inefficiencies and accounting overheads and allowing negotiated agreements with Data Service Providers (DSPs) to reduce overall communications costs;

     Agreements between WMO Members and Regional WIGOS Centre operators would ensure collaborative resources provided by Member NMHSs are used for their intended purpose;

     A single data policy would uniformly establish the right of all WMO Members to reliably access AMDAR data from the GTS and use it for mandated meteorological purposes without the complication of complying with national programme variations.

WICAP Roles and Responsibilities

Under WICAP and as shown in Figure 3, the various programmatic entities and participants have clearly defined roles and responsibilities in order to establish and maintain the operational, governance and financial frameworks on which the Programme would rely.

Figure 3

Figure 3 - Overview of the WICAP programmatic structure

WMO Member NMHSs

As is the case in the current AMDAR Programme, WMO Member NMHSs would continue to be responsible for the operational elements of the Programme, which primarily focus on the ground-based aspects of data management, including reception, quality control, transmission on the WMO Information System, longer-term archival and provision of data to users.

In summary WMO Member NMHSs would be expected to:

     Determine and provide their requirements for AMDAR ABO in accordance with WICAP and Regional Association processes and procedures;

     Ensure a timely payment of the agreed contribution to regional operational expenses and data provision costs and services to support the regional AMDAR Programme;

     Comply with agreed data policy provisions and requirements established under WICAP;

     Provide resources to the Regional Association to support the expert membership and activities of regional WG-ABOs; and

     Promote the Programme at the national level with the aviation industry and national civil aviation authorities to help ensure an understanding of the benefits and the business case for participation in it.

Regional Associations

WMO Regional Associations will be responsible for agreeing on, developing and establishing the required operational and financial structures to be established in their region and for overseeing the performance of the Programme. In summary, they would:

     Develop and maintain regional-level annual and medium-term planning processes and procedures for the establishment and maintenance of national and regional requirements for aircraft-based observations and AMDAR data as a contribution to the Regional Basic Observing Network (RBON) and the Global Basic Observing Network (GBON);

     Develop, maintain and oversee a regional funding framework to fund the operation of the regional AMDAR Programme by WICAP Operators and associated regional and global centres;

     On an annual basis and as required, undertake the necessary planning and budgetary processes to support the operation of the regional AMDAR Programme under WICAP;

     Oversee the regional operations and outputs of the WICAP Operators;

     Under the coordination of the OPCT and operation of WICAP Operators, interface with operational airlines and DSPs for generating and obtaining data and ensuring optimal data communications and data coverage;

     Establish regional work groups on Aircraft-Based Observations (WG-ABO) to:

·        coordinate the development and maintenance of regional plans, requirements and budgets for AMDAR observations and regional AMDAR Programme operations in accordance with WICAP and in the context of the Regional Basic Observations Network;

·        assist in the establishment of regional AMDAR data processing and monitoring centres as required, and provide technical support for their maintenance and operation; and

·        oversee the operation of associated WICAP Centres and the regional component of the AMDAR Data Quality Management System (DQMS).


Under WICAP, it is expected that the role of partner airlines in entering and participating in the Programme will be simplified and more streamlined. They would be expected to fulfill the following roles and responsibilities:

     Implement required AMDAR avionics software to support the collection and transmission of AMDAR data;

     Enter into a standardised agreement with a WMO NMHS WICAP Operator to provide AMDAR data under the WICAP Data Policy;

     Endeavour to correct notified faults and issues with AMDAR data quality as notified by WICAP Operators;

     Work with WMO and Members to widen the implementation of water vapour sensors and the measurement of turbulence; and

     Facilitate the provision of AMDAR data to the WICAP Operator data processing centre via agreed communication channels.


IATA, through its understanding of the aviation industry and connection with the key partners and stakeholders in the aviation industry can facilitate the provision of a much better and more widely understood business case and justification for the participation of airlines in the Programme, thus increasing the participation of airlines in the Programme

Additionally, IATA can work through its regional structures and aviation technical working groups to develop more efficient solutions and processes for AMDAR development, implementation and operation, including the wider utilisation of water vapour sensors and the measurement of turbulence. IATA also has the capacity to facilitate improved and wider use of the data by airlines themselves, to provide further direct benefits to the aviation industry.

IATA can efficiently commercialize the data to third party commercial entities, allowing them access to the data based on a level-playing-field approach, while generating a source of revenue to defray costs for Programme operations to the airlines and NMHSs, and to support additional AMDAR Programme development in data-sparse areas.

The role of IATA under the collaboration is summarised in the Purpose and Principles of WICAP.


WMO and its Members will concentrate their efforts and resources on the meteorological operational aspects of the Programme, which are focused on data management and the provision of data to users, weather applications and service providers. Through its Regional Associations and Technical Commissions, WMO can facilitate regional cooperation between its members in undertaking these key activities of the Programme, which will lead to significant efficiencies and cost saving through better resource management, infrastructure sharing and cost savings as described in more detail below.

Together with IATA, WMO has the capability under their respective operational frameworks and regulations to establish coordination, legal and governance frameworks for the Programme. These frameworks will facilitate the implementation of WICAP and allow its international, collaborative operation by their respective members in partnership.

The role of WMO under the collaboration is summarised in the Purpose and Principles of WICAP.

Financial Arrangements

Each RA should determine the operational and funding structure that best suits its needs and the preferences of their respective collective membership, while ensuring that they adopt and adhere to the Data Policy principles.

The Principles under which the WICAP costing and funding structure are proposed to be implemented are:

     Each RA will make a decision on whether or not to develop a regional AMDAR Programme under WICAP. If they do so they can either choose to use the WICAP recommended financial framework as described in the Concept of Operations, or they can develop their own based on agreement among RA members;

     The financial system and its operation will be documented and routinely reported and transparent to RA members and the WICAP Governing Board;

     Costs for shared components to be divided between participating Members based on the WICAP proposed financial structure or that developed and agreed by the Region;

     Payments to data providers and for other operational costs will be handled by the WICAP Operator or individual Members depending on regional arrangements.

Funding arrangements in each region will need to consider:

     Funding for provision of AMDAR observations, including the expansion of observations into data-sparse areas;

     Developmental costs including AMDAR onboard software or sensor deployment for humidity measurement, if required;

     Funding for the Regional Processing Centre(s);

     Funding for global components (e.g. optimisation and data quality management); and

     Administrative support and capacity development.

WICAP Governance

By creating a formal partnership between the airlines (represented by IATA) and WMO (representing its member NMHSs), WICAP will seek to improve AMDAR Programme management and the overall efficiency of the observing system. This includes the formation of a governing board and some additional coordinating and supporting elements that are depicted in green in Figure 3, along with the operational (orange) and organisational elements (WMO in blue and IATA in yellow) that will contribute to the Programme.

The governing board, comprising managerial and technical expert representatives from both organizations, will be established by IATA and WMO to monitor and oversee the achievement of WICAP aims and ensure that participation is authorized, balanced, mutually beneficial and sustainable. The governing board will have the key responsibilities to develop and oversee the implementation of high-level policies, receive and approve routine, consolidated WICAP planning and budgetary documentation, resolve critical issues, report on programme outcomes and promote the programme both within and outside the collaborating organizations.

The WICAP Oversight Planning and Coordination Team (OPCT), comprised of at least one designated officer from each of IATA and WMO and resourced either directly by the respective organizations or by WICAP, would be responsible primarily for overseeing the developmental and operational functions and processes of WICAP. The OPCT would provide both a meteorological and technical coordination support function according to the needs of the Programme, assisting in the coordination of WICAP WMO Regional activities and the consolidation of planning and budgetary processes at the regional and global levels and also coordinating the processes within IATA for responding to requirements for AMDAR data though the participation of airline partners. The OPCT would form the crucial conduit between the Programme operational functions and the Governing Board and would also oversee and coordinate the activities of Ad hoc Task Teams (ATTs).

Although not formally apart of the governance structure, ATTs would be formed by the OPCT at the direction of the Governing Board to fulfill well-defined, temporary or ongoing programmatic activities in support of WICAP operation, development and/or implementation.  ATTs would be comprised of designated, voluntary or funded experts or consultants from either the meteorological and/or aviation areas and would be derived chiefly from IATA and WMO entities and subsidiary bodies, such as secretariat staff, technical commissions, expert teams or other working groups. ATTs could be formed to assist in activities such as, resolving Programme operational or developmental issues or problems, overseeing the implementation of a particular developmental aspect of the Programme, developing specifications or requirements, and/or interacting or engaging with third-party entities on Programme-related matters or objectives.


While WICAP has clear financial benefits and programmatic advantages, there are a number of risks to delivery that will have to be managed as part of the WICAP Implementation Plan. These fall into three main categories, which could potentially impact costs and timelines to implement and operate WICAP:

     Acceptance by members to join WICAP and agree adequate, equitable funding to support the programme;

     Willingness of airlines, Data Service Providers (and 3rd parties) to participate and reduce overall cost of AMDAR data; and

     Reduced operational redundancy as a result of less infrastructure systems under a regional collaborative operations model.

The full Risk Management Register, along with proposed mitigation strategies, can be found in the WICAP Implementation Plan. [see PART III]