In this exclusive Aviation Turkey Interview, Meterology General Manager – Volkan Mutlu Coşkun discusses the network composed of 1,867 observation systems and the 74 that are located at all airports in Turkey providing critical observation insight to the aviation sector.
Volkan Mutlu Coşkun: I would like to start with a metaphor; if we look at the Turkish Aviation Sector as a table with four legs, the first leg should be meteorological services and therefore the Turkish State Meteorological Service due to the fact that we provide necessary data for each plane for take-off and landing. The second leg is, of course, Turkish Airlines, Pegasus, Atlas Jet, Sun Express etc. These airlines need airports to operate so the third leg is the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMİ). The last but not the least leg is the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (SHGM) to regulate the sector. But now as I consider this interview with Aviation Turkey, I need to add something to my comparison. Every table needs a vase full of nice flowers. I think Aviation Turkey will become the flowers on the table for Turkey’s aviation sector.
Now I can explain our services to the aviation sector in detail. We have witnessed rapid technological improvement in the last decades. The Turkish State Meteorological Service is one of the best institutions which has adapted itself to this rapid improvement.
We currently operate a network that is composed of 1,867 observing systems. 1,636 of these networks are Automated Weather Stations (AWS), 83 of them are marine AWS, 41 of them are lightning detection stations, 18 of them are weather radars, 10 of them are radiosonde observations stations, 2 of them are dust observing stations, 2 of them are high-frequency marine radars located at the Bosporus coast. 74 of them are located at all airports in Turkey and are devoted to providing observation to the aviation sector.
Last February we launched one of the most up to date instruments for air safety in Antalya, the Low-Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS). Let me underline again my gratitude to H.E. Fuat OKTAY, Vice President of Turkey, H.E. Bekir PAKDEMİRLİ, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, H.E. Mevlüt ÇAVUŞOĞLU, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and H.E. Mehmet Cahit TURHAN Minister of Transport and Infrastructure for their presence in the opening ceremony of the LLWAS System at the Antalya Airport on 9 February 2019. We provide necessary meteorological support for each and every single flight in Turkey. Our offices and our services are differentiated according to the type of aerodromes but this has never changed. All flights in Turkey take off or land with meteorological support provided by the Turkish State Meteorological Service. There are two Flight Information Areas(FIR) in our country. They are located at Esenboğa Airport and Istanbul Airport. These meteorological offices monitor adverse weather activity 24/7 and produce SIGMETs for flight safety. Aviation stakeholders and users reach the MET information in the form of coded METAR and SPECI reports of weather conditions, and TAF and TREND messages for forecasting purposes.
This information is broadcast via the VOLMET system which is installed in 8 stations. When necessary, our meteorology office issue weather warnings for parked aircraft and aerodrome operators. It is crucial to mitigate the effects of hazardous weather. The meteorological emergency committee convenes according to severity of weather phenomena and its expected impact. Also our expert teams provide en-route information and related forecasts at each airport. The Turkish State Meteorological Service has a regional training center which are accredited by the WMO. In this training center our expert teams provide courses to teach forecasting methods and other subjects related to meteorology and climate change to friendly country. Lots of meteorological resources related to aviation is free and all stakeholders may access them through the Hezarfen web page (www.hezarfen.mgm.gov.tr). Users can reach METARs, TAFs, SIGMET, GAMET and airport warnings, the web page also has numeric weather prediction outputs.
Also, our service provides UAVs and AUAVs flights with specifically developed numerical model products during cross-border operations and the fight against terrorism. Pilots are trained to use these products. In addition to that, the HELIMET application was developed for the planning and safe travel of VFR flights.
Volkan Mutlu Coşkun: The Turkish State Meteorological Service was founded on 19 February 1937 with a law signed personally by Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK, the founder of the Turkish Republic. But the cooperation with the international meteorological community in Turkey goes far beyond 1937. As you may know, the First International Meteorological Congress was held in 1873 in Vienna, Austria and was accepted as the institutional beginning point of international cooperation in meteorology. Turkey was represented in that Congress. After this Congress, the International Meteorological Organization was established. Ever since then, Turkey has been a solid participant, cooperating in international meteorology. Since 1937 this responsibility has been carried out by the Turkish State Meteorological Service. The Turkish State Meteorological Service is the founding member of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which was officially founded on 23 March 1951, and as such, each year World Meteorological Day is celebrated on the 23rd of March. The Turkish State Meteorological Service has been hosting the Regional Training Center of the WMO since 2000. We hosted more than 1,500 experts from at least 136 different countries in our training activities. Our calibration laboratories are also recognized as a Regional Instrument Center of the WMO. This means that we can provide calibration services not only to our domestic customers but also to our customers from all over the world. Because of our active participation in WMO programs, I was unanimously elected to the Executive Council of the WMO. I will represent Europe in the Executive Council for the next 4 years.
We are also a member of the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) which provides necessary operational support on numerical weather prediction to members. The Turkish State Meteorological Service is also the founder member of The European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). We are a member of ECOMET (Economic Interest Grouping of the National Meteorological Services in Europe) and ALADIN (European Limited Area Numerical Weather Prediction Consortium). Nowadays we are discussing cooperation possibilities with EUMETNET executive officers. As you may know, EUMETNET is composed of different programs on observation, forecasting and climate services. We are trying to define the programs which will be beneficial for us and of course for other members of EUMETNET.
Volkan Mutlu Coşkun: As you may know, our government is implementing a program on industrial cooperation. We have taken important role in his program with X-band weather radars and radiosonde observing systems. We are providing our companies with relevant support on their activities to develop X-band weather radars and radiosonde systems. We are also engaging in some cooperation initiatives with our universities to develop up to date observing systems. Our recent studies focus on developing domestic automated pollen observing systems. We are developing a pollen forecasting system in cooperation with Ege University. The project was implemented in İzmir as a Pilot Phase. The prototype of the automated pollen observation systems has already been developed and is being tested on our premises. We believe that in a couple of years we will buy domestically produced observation systems. On this point I would like to draw attention to the producer or the investor who would like to invest in meteorological observing systems. The market is not limited within the borders of Turkey. For instance, African meteorological services are in need of modern observation systems, and if we test and use domestically produced observation systems we can promote these systems among other friendly countries as well.
Volkan Mutlu Coşkun: We have a very good observation network. Of course, we would like to expand the density of our network. However, if you cannot make use of the data produced by the observation network, then the density of it is not the real issue. That is why we are investing in both observational network and human resources. This year we receive a permit to employ 100 technical staff. First of all I have to underline that personal use of all our forecast is completely free. We have a mobile application, Meteoroloji Hava Durumu. You can find it both on the Appstore and Google Play. Our application is among the top 2 applications in both platforms. You can reach real-time data of all our meteorological stations. Temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, amount of precipitation, pressure, seawater temperature, snow depth, and all the parameters we measure as well as radar and satellite images. We charge value-added or personalized forecasts and a big amount of data from our archive. The free data issue has always been discussed in the council meetings of the European meteorological organizations, as well. Some countries advocate free access for all types of data but we have to accept that data is one of the very important sources for our investments. In all airports we have meteorological offices and we have permanent contact with air traffic control towers. So, at the airports all of the necessary services are provided by our staff. Additionally, almost all of the observation systems could be displayed on air traffic control towers. We also support all kind of sportive activities. We deploy our technical staff with our mobile observing systems to various sportive activities.
Volkan Mutlu Coşkun: We witnessed a medicane (Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone) last year. Almost at the end of the summer. Last winter and this summer, we also witnessed many severe weather phenomena in Turkey. We developed an action plan on cyclone forecasting. Our disadvantage is the fact that this type of meteorological phenomena is not common in our region. But the climate is changing and now we have to adapt ourselves and we also have to help the public to understand and to adapt to this new type of severe weather phenomena. That is why an important part of the action plan is to raise the awareness of severe weather phenomena and the importance of early warnings. Our staff will participate in the European Conference on Severe Storms this year. Also we are also striving to nurture our cooperation with different countries. For instance, currently we are working on cooperation possibilities with the Japan Meteorological Service on weather radars. On one hand we are providing training activities to developing countries and on the other hand we are developing our own capacity.
Volkan Mutlu Coşkun: The Aviation sector has been one of the top performing sectors with many developments over the last decades. As the Turkish State Meteorological Service, we took part in this development by supporting every single flight in Turkey. And we are proud of this and we are proud of being a part of this brilliant development. Moreover, th eTurkish State Meteorological Service is ready to provide the necessary support to the Turkish Aviation Sector. We are investing in our observation network, in our infrastructure and in our human resource capacity. Please keep following us, we are doing great things for our country and the safety of humanity.