eGAFOR (enhanced, electronic and European GAFOR) is a new graphical colour-coded forecast for general aviation (GA). It was developed by CCL (Croatia – the initiator and leading partner), ARSO (Slovenia), BHANSA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), OMSZ (Hungary), ROMATSA (Romania), SHMU (Slovakia) and SMATSA (Serbia and Montenegro) with Slovakian IBL as an industrial partner within the framework of an EU-funded project that was carried out between 2017 and 2021. Towards the end of the project, partners looked at how best to operationally issue eGAFOR once the project was over. This was difficult as there were multiple problems ranging from the procurement to the recognition of this new type of forecast by the aviation and meteorological community. The solution was found under the umbrella of EUMETNET and it was decided that the operational production and further development of eGAFOR products should continue as part of EUMETNET’s Aviation Support Programme (ASP). The participation in the ASP will also facilitate new members joining eGAFOR as there has already been interest from other aviation service providers.
General aviation is the most vulnerable part of aviation because it operates in the lower part of the atmosphere where the most hazardous meteorological phenomena occur. Although many GA pilots are experienced, there is a large number of less experienced pilots flying light aircraft without sufficient meteorological awareness. In addition to this, meteorological products for GA in Europe differ between the areas covered, timeframes, visualization and forecasting methods. However, the biggest issue is that they are not harmonized between neighbouring countries. Due to this lack of coordination in forecasts, meteorological phenomena can seem to end at political borders, and this incongruity can reduce users´ confidence.
All of the above-mentioned reasons contributed to weather-related GA accidents with 392 fatalities over the past 10 years in Europe ( https://www.easa.europa.eu/newsroom-and-events/events/general-aviation-and-low-level-weather-seminar, the introductory presentation)
eGAFOR is roughly based on traditional GAFOR (General Aviation FORecast), but with several improvements. Firstly, it is produced simultaneously and collaboratively in multiple countries, so users can see the forecast for a wider area on a single platform. Before eGAFOR, when users were preparing a cross-border flight, they had to visit multiple web pages to collect meteorological data.
In addition, whilst traditional GAFOR is a deterministic forecast based on two meteorological elements, low clouds and visibility, eGAFOR is a probabilistic forecast of five elements (clouds, visibility, cumulonimbus clouds, turbulence and freezing precipitation). On top of this, eGAFOR is an interactive webpage accessible via www.egafor.eu, whilst traditional GAFOR is intended for printing.
Figure 1 eGAFOR forecast on www.egafor.eu webpage
SkyDemon is one of the best VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flight-planning and navigation software in the world, made by Divelements Limited, an independent software company based in the UK. SkyDemon was launched in 2009 and has been developing and advancing ever since.
The SkyDemon team recognized the problem of obtaining meteorological data for cross-border flights and therefore one of the features SkyDemon offers is meteorological data integrated into VFR planning charts. For that reason, SkyDemon integrated traditional GAFOR over the countries that provided the forecasts. Since the traditional GAFORs are produced per country, a lot of effort had to be invested in order to integrate different forecasts into a single one.
With the introduction of eGAFOR, SkyDemon took the opportunity to widen its network and to provide more meteorological data to end-users, general aviation pilots, to make their flight planning safer. However, since eGAFOR is in many aspects different from the traditional GAFOR, further development was required. There were various problems, different times of issuing, more forecasted phenomena, different visualization, to name a few. Once these problems were solved, eGAFOR was successfully integrated into SkyDemon:
Figure 2: Integration of eGAFOR into SkyDemon
Figure 3: An example of the integration of eGAFOR into SkyDemon: Austria is producing the traditional GAFOR, while Hungary is producing eGAFOR. Two different products are successfully harmonized.
This integration will help general aviation users in their cross-border flight planning between countries where eGAFOR is issued and countries where the traditional GAFOR remains
We hope this will benefit our end-users and make their flight planning easier, thus increasing their safety.
Making of eGAFOR on YouTube