Alerting function of special weather reports (SPECI) is not met by the automatic broadcast services
Date issue released
Safety Issue Description

The automatic broadcast services did not have the capacity to recognise and actively disseminate special weather reports (SPECI) to pilots, thus not meeting the intent of the SPECI alerting function provided by controller-initiated flight information service.

Issue number
Issue Status
Closed – Adequately addressed
Transport Function
Aviation: Air transport
Issue Owner
Airservices Australia in consultation with the Bureau of Meteorology
Mode of Transport
Issue Status Justification

The ATSB welcomes the introduction of a system‑based solution to provide pilots with special weather reports, for all non‑towered locations, that are useful for the safe conduct of the flight. This significant safety action addresses safety issue AO‑2013‑100‑SI‑02.

Safety recommendation
Action number
Airservices Australia
Action date
Action Status
Action description

The ATSB recommends that Airservices Australia as the safety issue owner works in collaboration with the Bureau of Meteorology to instigate a system change to reinstate the alerting function of SPECI reports currently not available through an automatic broadcast service.

Organisation Response
Date Received
Airservices Australia
Response Status
Response Text

Airservices agrees with the safety issue AO‑2013‑100‑SI‑02 and accepts the associated recommendation. Consistent with our response dated 6 May 2016 and related discussions with the ATSB and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Airservices would like to reiterate our commitment to resolving this safety issue.

Review of the safety issue to date indicates that a meteorological system‑based solution is likely to be needed to improve the useability of weather information and enable a practical means of alerting to pilots of rapidly deteriorating weather. Airservices notes that the identification of such a system change to resolve the safety issue will depend on cross‑agency collaboration with the BOM and possibly joint investment.

A meeting between Airservices and the BOM on 10 June 2016 confirmed that the existing joint BOM/Airservices technical sub‑group (TSG) will progress the work to identify a feasible system based solution. This work commenced on 23-24 June 2016 as a priority under the TSG.

Airservices will continue to lead the work with the BOM via this existing cooperative forum to examine the following areas in determining the required scope of work:

  • the system architecture of and interfaces between the meteorological systems providing ABS and the ATC automation system (Eurocat)
  • the dissemination and interpretation of SPECI data in the context of supporting effective in-flight decision making
  • the criteria to be used to filter SPECI data to delineate that which is operationally significant to a flight, and the technical feasibility of providing such a filtering mechanism as part of the existing ATC automation system
  • the human factors issues and other safety risk factors associated with implementing the filtering mechanism and requiring ATC to pass on the relevant SPECI data.

Airservices will also consult with airlines to ensure that any proposed solution is consistent with the role of the airline operational controller in ensuring pilots have all relevant information required for a flight. The consultation will also take into account the in‑flight responsibilities of controllers and pilots.

Date Received
Airservices Australia
Response Status
Response Text

On 29 June 2016, our CEO wrote to the former ATSB Chief Commissioner advising that Airservices agreed with the safety issue A‑2013‑100‑SR‑02 and accepted the associated safety recommendation. Our commitment included a review of the safety issue to identify a suitable meteorological system‑based solution that would improve the useability of weather information and enable a practical means of alerting pilots to rapidly deteriorating weather.

I am pleased to announce that on 8 November 2018, Airservices successfully implemented a SPECI alerting filter. The system filters SPECI information that is useful for the safe conduct of flight. The assessment and distribution of pertinent SPECI to ATC is done automatically by a computerised filter which ATC then disseminates to affected pilots. Further information on this change, including the parametes used to trigger the dissemination of SPECI is provided in AIC H34/18 (attached).

Given that the change has been successfully implemented, we would like to request that the ATSB close the safety recommendation on Airservices.