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Saint Lucia airports fitted with new wind-measuring systems for safer operations; staff trained

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Staff of the Meteorological Services practice downloading archived data from the data logger of the wind measuring system at the Hewanorra International Airport during training.

(PRESS RELEASE) – Newly installed wind-measuring systems were commissioned at the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) and George F.L. Charles Airport Wednesday following training of the Meteorological Services staff in operation and maintenance of the systems.

The wind-measuring systems, funded under Saint Lucia’s Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), are critical for the safe taking off and landing of aircraft at both airports.

Additionally, the new systems enhance Saint Lucia’s capacity for long-term climate-monitoring and will increase the efficiency and accuracy with which the Meteorological Services can prepare its local and international reports on wind parameters, by automating many of the calculations previously done manually.

The wind-measuring systems installed meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and each consists of a support tower; sensors that measure wind speed and direction; a data logger where data from the system is archived; a radio for transmission of the data; and digital display screens housed at the Meteorological Services office and Air Traffic Control (ATC) room.

The digital display screens show readings of average wind speed and wind direction at two-minute intervals, and minimum and maximum wind speed at 10-minute intervals, in keeping with standard international reporting requirements.

Head, tail, and crosswinds are automatically calculated by the system and displayed on the screens. The system is complete with alarms that give alerts when wind speeds may be high or other readings of concern occur. The screens also have the capability to display other weather parameters important for airport operations.

Christian Staelens, project manager at MORCOM, the firm contracted to supply and install the systems, explained that “the systems will support air navigation at the airports by ensuring quality and accurate data”.

The installation of the wind-measuring system was particularly welcomed at the Hewanorra International Airport (HIA) where the old system had been in operation for more than 40 years and was nearing the end of its service life.

In reaction to the installation Mr. Venantius Descartes, senior meteorologist at the Meteorological Services, echoed the sentiments on the importance of the investment, saying: “The old system that we had has served its time. It worked for a very long time and it needed replacement. Having this new system, making use of the latest technology is a very important achievement.”

He also confirmed that in anticipation and support of these technological improvements, the Meteorological Services has invested over the past three years in the training of its staff at the regional level in meteorology at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH).

The Meteorological Services staff, who will be directly involved in operating and using the wind measuring systems, were also very pleased with the installations.

Meteorological Officer Mr. Ruven Pologne said: “I am very satisfied with it; it is more accurate than the old system, it has more features, a clearer display and is more user-friendly.”

His colleague, Mr. Govinda Augustin, added that he feels comfortable in operating the systems following the training.

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