Airbus expands the availability of its “nowcasting” system of thunderstorm detection and prediction data for aviation

Of all weather phenomena, thunderstorms have the most significant impact on safety because of their risk potential. Avoiding them leads to significant delays for airlines, resulting in higher operating costs and increased CO2 emissions.

An Airbus Defence and Space Cb-Global solution applies sophisticated algorithms to global weather satellite data feeds, thereby detecting with high precision every single thunderstorm cell around the planet for more efficient and safer aviation operations.

This data will become even more widely available following the new Airbus sales and distribution agreement with Meteomatics AG, a Swiss-based company with an around-the-clock weather data platform. Signed in June, this pact is in addition to Airbus’ sale of Cb-Global information to various end-customers – either directly or via resellers.

Pinpointing thunderstorm cells in real time

Cb-Global is a thunderstorm detection and “nowcasting” system that calculates moving directions, speeds and future positions of all thunderstorm cells detected in real time and for the next 60 minutes into the future. The product name’s “Cb” reference is to “cumulonimbus,” the highly active cloud formations associated with thunderstorms.

The system provides precise outlines or polygons for every individual thunderstorm cell instead of more general probabilities for thunderstorm activities for larger areas, which are typically provided by numerical weather models. This precision has a significant value for the aviation domain – especially for pilots to circumnavigate these no-go zones.

More safety, lower operational costs

Such information is more important than ever today, as climate change has led to an increased severity of extreme weather, with thunderstorms becoming more static, larger and higher. This makes them increasingly difficult to avoid. 

Severe weather phenomena like thunderstorms already cost operators millions of dollars every year. However, with Cb-global, these costs could be reduced significantly.

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