Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Royal Meteorological Society


  The following text contains the Society's input to the inquiry by the Parliamentary All Party committee on Transport into the work of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).


2.1  The Society

  The Royal Meteorological Society was founded in 1850 and since that time has been the UK learned society for meteorology, and closely related sciences. The Society received its Royal Charter in 1866 and is a registered charity. HRH the Prince of Wales is currently the Patron of the Society.

  The Society has an international membership with currently around 3,000 members, who include both professional and interested enthusiasts. Our mission is the advancement of meteorological and related sciences and we provide support and advice to a wide range of interested groups and bodies, including Government.

  In delivering this mission, the Society has a very wide portfolio of activities which include:

    —  An Education programme supporting primary and secondary schools both in the UK and overseas. The Society also runs a popular on-line schools forum for making weather observations and exchanging weather information across the globe (MetLink International,

    —  An Accreditation programme that awards chartered status (Chartered Meteorologist, CMet),endorses courses on meteorology and related subjects and administers, on behalf of the Sector, National Vocational Qualifications NVQ/SVQs level 3 and 4.

    —  An active Meetings and conferences programme on topics of current scientific and popular interest within its disciplines. This programme ranges from detailed and advanced research material to the popular understanding of science and regularly includes joint meetings with other learned societies and organisations.

    —  The funding of full time MSc scholarships in meteorology and part-time undergraduate vacation employment in the subject.

    —  The award of prizes for academic excellence.

    —  Funding of grants to (mainly young) scientists to attend meetings and conferences and to undertake small research projects (often these are school projects for which no other funding sources are available).

    —  An internationally recognised Publications portfolio that serves the academics, applied meteorology/climatology professionals, and weather enthusiasts. Like many learned societies, the Royal Meteorological Society relies heavily on the income from its publications (some 65% of Society revenue) to fund this wide range of charitable works.

  Further information on the Society can be found at

2.2  Meteorological responsibilities of the CAA

  The CAA is the Meteorological Authority for Civil Aviation in the UK but has historically obtained most if not all of its operational meteorological support and services under contract from the UK Met Office. It has also in the past sought advice and guidance on specific areas such as instrumentation and observations from relevant parts of industry. It has not, however, sought independent advice or guidance, at least in recent years, on meteorological issues from or through the Royal Meteorological Society. This is slightly strange since the Society represents the whole range of meteorological science and the profession, including the academic and the growing private sector service providers.

2.3  Regulation of the Meteorological Profession

  The profession of meteorology within the UK is not regulated in any way. It is possible for any person without any training or qualifications to set up as a meteorological service provider and to deliver what appear at first sight to be well founded and appropriate services (including weather forecasts) to any customer. The advent of the internet as a simple, fast and attractive delivery mechanism accessible from any point of origin and by any point of delivery facilitates this market. In many cases, this may be of little consequence, the principle of caveat emptor being sufficient. But in safety related areas such as aviation, particularly General Aviation, there is a clear danger that such a market could lead to serious consequences including, even, life threatening consequences.

  Notwithstanding this lack of formal regulation, the Royal Meteorological Society is designated by Government21[4], [5], [6] as the Regulating Authority for the profession because, under the provisions of our Royal Charter, we own and administer the professional qualification of Chartered Meteorologist (CMet). We also administer on behalf of the Sector, the NVQ 4 in weather forecasting and NVQ 3 in weather observing and their SVQ equivalents. All of these qualifications are formally recognised throughout the EU. However, it is nowhere required that those providing meteorological services to aviation should demonstrate knowledge, skill or competence through the attainment of any of these qualifications.

2.4  Single European Skies

  We understand that under the EC Single European Skies legislation, it will be necessary in future for the national Civil Aviation Authority to certify providers of meteorological services before those providers will be permitted to deliver products to aviation users within Authority's national jurisdiction. It is not yet clear to us whether this certification will be applied to all civil aviation activities or to subsets of the market, perhaps delineated in terms of operating scale.

  The CAA has not yet announced how, where certification is required, suitability for it will be assessed. However, we understand that self assessment by meteorological service providers will not be permitted under the EC Directives. It would therefore seem both wise and efficient for the attainment of the existing, EU-recognized professional qualifications of CMet and N/SVQ to be a requirement, at appropriate levels within the production process, for the certification of those who desire to deliver meteorological services and products to any part of the civil aviation sector.

  Because of the otherwise complete lack of regulation in the industry, there is a case, in our view, for this qualification requirement to become mandatory for meteorological product and service suppliers to the aviation sector whether or not the particular operating circumstances fall within the formal requirements for certification under the SES rules.

2.5  Closing Comments

  In a safety related activity such as the provision of meteorological forecasts and other products to civil aviation, it appears anomalous that there is no requirement for providers of such forecasts and products to provide independent evidence of their professional competence to produce them.

  Given that some form of regulation should be required, we submit that it would be the most effective and efficient use of national resources for the CAA to utilize the existing, independently established, maintained and managed professional qualifications, adapted if necessary to the specific purpose, rather than establishing any alternative structure under a registration authority that does not currently operate within the profession.

November 2005

4   Statutory Instrument 2002 No 2934 Professional Qualifications (implementation of 92/51/EEC). Back

5   Statutory Instrument 2005 No 18 Professional Qualifications (implementation 89/48/EEC). Back

6   DfES Consultation for Implementation of 2005/36/EC. Back

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