I was intrigued by the assertion that COVID-19 depressing commercial aviation has lead to lower quality weather forecasting

The aircraft observations are a key piece in the jigsaw of national and global weather data that is fed into computer models through a process called data assimilation. Multiple studies have found that aircraft are among the most important data sources for reducing the error in forecast models.

After some poking around, I found out the system is called AMDAR

The AMDAR system predominantly utilises existing aircraft onboard sensors, computers and communications systems to collect, process, format and transmit meteorological data to ground stations via satellite or radio links. Once on the ground, the data is relayed to National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS), where it is processed, quality controlled and transmitted on the WMO Global Telecommunications System (GTS).

Is this system required by aviation authorities anywhere? Or is there merely some incentive system to encourage participation?

  • $\begingroup$ Airlines directly benefit from participating by getting better weather forecasts back. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Apr 14, 2020 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


AMDAR (Aircraft Meteorological DAta Relay) is a program established by the World Meteorological Organisation to gather weather data from around the world. It's run through a number of local and regional AMDAR organisations who negotiate with partner airlines arrangements to use existing aircraft sensors to gather and report weather data on each flight.

The gathered data is relayed by satellite or radio to ground stations and then forwarded on for processing and distribution.

(I've paraphrased from this source)

So, there is no specific AMDAR equipment. The AMDAR system is implemented by arrangement with partner airlines, and may be installed on some or all of the airline's aircraft that already carry suitable sensors.

There is no mention of a requirement that an airline partner with a regional AMDAR organisation, and thus no requirement for their aircraft to carry the system.

It's not clear from the pages at the WMO what the nature of the collaboration between the local AMDAR organisation and the airline is, so there may be some payment to the airline, or there may be some benefit in kind: free or reduced cost access to meteorological reports, perhaps.


Short answer: No. It depends on the type certification of the aircraft. For example, helicopters don't even have radars! Also, many old planes (e.g., DC-3, DC-8, MD-80) aren't equipped with AMDAR. So no, not ALL planes have to be equipped with AMDAR, but AMDAR is quite useful.

Usually the rule on AMDAR is the higher and faster your aircraft goes, the more an aircraft weather monitoring system is required. F.e, fighter jets and modern long range jets have to be equipped with some kind of weather monitoring system. Basically, sometimes weather radars in general are required.

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    $\begingroup$ If you're going to contribute here, please try to include relevant sources. Much of what you have written here appears to be your personal opinion, and of rather doubtful quality. For example, AMDAR is not a company, although you seem to think it is. $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2020 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ Please do contribute here, just make sure that you're quoting reputable sources to back up your assertions. Taking the tour and browsing through the help center (particularly the sections about answering), will help make your questions and answers better. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Apr 13, 2020 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @CatchAsCatchCan: I'm sorry, I'll edit that out. But I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that AMDAR was a company. Personally, I doubted it, but I decided to put on here anyway. And I'll also make sure to put more sources in my answer next time $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2020 at 18:04

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